Ever since Mike McCarthy took over as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s built an all-star staff of coaches that rivals the cast of Oppenheimer. It looks like the players agree. The NFL Player’s Association released the results of a recent survey taken with over 1,700 player participants. This was the goal of the survey provided by the NFLPA website:
NFL players were asked to rate their offensive, defensive and/or special teams coordinators in conjunction with the second annual NFLPA Player Team Report Card project, an anonymous, comprehensive player survey* conducted among each team during NFLPA visits last fall. These coordinators received the highest average rating from players on their clubs, based on survey results collected from players on each team. The NFLPA is only publishing the Top 5 coordinators in each category to highlight and focus on the positive impact coaches can have on players across the league. We also want to ensure that players’ opinions are heard and accounted for by clubs ahead of the next hiring cycle.
Among the total of 15 coaches named, the Cowboys had three coordinators named in the top three of their positions.
- Top Five Defensive Coordinators – Dan Quinn (3rd)
- Top Five Offensive Coordinators – Brian Schottenheimer (3rd)
- Top Five Special Teams Coordinators – John Fassel (1st)
As the NFLPA states, this survey is to help promote the best coordinators around the NFL regarding the next hiring cycle of head coaches. Quinn has been at the top of head coaching consideration since 2021, taking the Cowboys’ defense to a whole new level and leading the league in takeaways for back-to-back seasons.
To the surprise of many, Quinn pulled out of head coaching positions last offseason to return to Dallas. The veteran coach said his goal was to win a championship with America’s Team. Quinn also mentioned he didn’t want anyone else to coach his guys. With his unit again sitting at the top of many defensive metrics, Quinn could be at the top of the team’s wish lists. The Los Angeles Chargers could already be considering Quinn as one of their desired candidates.
Schottenheimer and Fassel have spent most of their careers as coordinators. Fassel is the only one with head coaching experience becoming the Los Angeles Rams interim coach in 2016.
For Schottenheimer, he’s been with the Cowboys since 2022, starting as an offensive consultant. After Kellen Moore left for the Chargers, it opened the offensive coordinator position. McCarthy named Schottenheimer the new offensive coordinator, and both men have helped develop a blend of a West Coast-style offense. This offense has gotten the best years out of Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Jake Ferguson, probably catching the eyes of higher-ups around the league.
Fassel has always been a coach players seem to love playing for. After speaking with former Cowboys linebacker Justin March-Lillard and current long snapper Trent Sieg, it’s clear Fassel leaves a lasting impact on his players, making them better professionals. Fassel has taken “cast-off” kickers for two years in a row and developed them into absolute weapons for Dallas.
Before last year’s playoff meltdown, Brett Maher was among the leading point scorers in the NFL and was setting records for 50-yard kicks in a season. The Cowboys found themselves looking for another kicker and happened to stumble upon USFL all-star Brandon Aubrey. 35 kicks later, Aubrey has turned into the NFL’s most accurate kicker and has been named to his first Pro Bowl. “Bones” was the highest-ranked Cowboys coach by the NFLPA, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets head coaching consideration as a result of the survey.
If Dallas goes far in the playoffs, they could face turnover in their coaching staff. This is a sign of a consistently good team, but making it to the NFC Championship after 27 years could lead to a situation similar to the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost two coordinators in one offseason, which affected their performance.