Top 5 Defensive Coordinator Candidates for the Dallas Cowboys

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 10, 2013

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30: Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches the action during the game against the  Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Bears defeted the Lions 26-24.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are back in the market for a defensive coordinator, and lots of well-known names are already coming up. Who should Dallas pursue to relieve Rob Ryan? Five guys come to mind.

Here's a list of my preferred potential candidates to take over the Dallas defense in 2013. 


1. Lovie Smith

I'm a firm believer that the Cowboys would be better off finding a coach who dictates the scheme (with personnel in mind) rather than letting a desired scheme dictate the coach they chase. Smith makes sense because he's a defensive mastermind who prefers the 4-3, which would make a lot more sense for Dallas if Anthony Spencer isn't re-signed (something the 'Boys might not have the money to do).

Smith is the kind of man who can work peacefully in a place like Dallas and would even be a quality candidate to replace Jason Garrett if things don't work out for Garrett in 2013. 


2. Ray Horton

As is the case with Smith, Horton has to want to come to Dallas as much as Dallas might want him. Ever since being passed on by the Cowboys two years ago and joining Arizona instead, the 52-year-old has had quite a lot of success running the Cardinals defense. He gets a lot out of his players and seems as though he'd be a nice fit with the Cowboys. 

The problem is that he's up for the head coaching opening in Arizona. If he gets it, he's obviously off the table. But if he doesn't, he might not want to continue to work under whomever the Cards hire and could jump over to Valley Ranch. 


3. Romeo Crennel

Another proven defensive genius, Crennel fared well in New England and did a pretty damn good job under the circumstances as defensive coordinator in Kansas City. It doesn't appear he was ever cut out to be a head coach, but I can see the players on this Dallas D really liking Crennel and the wide array of looks he'd bring to town. 


4. Matt Eberflus

It would be odd to fire Ryan while promoting the linebackers coach that he brought over from Cleveland two years ago, and it isn't a good sign that Eberflus and his peers are reportedly being asked to interview for their jobs again, but what he's done with the linebacking corps in Dallas is awesome. 

This year, Eberflus helped Sean Lee and Bruce Carter begin to turn into stars while getting the most yet out of Anthony Spencer. And when Lee and Carter went down, his unit kept it together nicely, regardless of who stepped in. Plus, he's fairly young and has experience calling defensive plays from his time at Missouri. 


5. Dave Wannstedt

Wannstedt also ran a 4-3 in the early days of the Jerry Jones era in Dallas, helping the Cowboys become a perennial Super Bowl contender in the early 1990s. But that was 20 years ago, and Wannstedt was most recently fired by the Buffalo Bills.

I can't imagine he'd be their top choice, but at least he's someone who's proven he can do it.