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Mike Zimmer, ex-Bengals coordinator and Vikings coach, is Dallas’ defensive coordinator

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Mike Zimmer, ex-Bengals coordinator and Vikings coach, is Dallas’ defensive coordinator


Mike Zimmer is the Dallas’ Cowboys new defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports Monday night.

Zimmer, 67, was the defensive coordinator on Marvin Lewis’ Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff from 2008 to 2013. He was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2014 to 2022.

Zimmer was most recently an analyst and consultant for head coach Deion Sanders at Jackson State in 2022 and for the Colorado Buffaloes in 2023.

Zimmer left the Bengals in January 2014 to become the Vikings’ head coach. His record in eight seasons in Minnesota (including postseason) was 74-59-1.

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Earlier this month, Lewis was named an assistant head coach on Las Vegas Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce’s staff.

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Bengals Beat Podcast: A discussion with Duke Tobin at the 2024 Senior Bowl

On this week’s episode of the Bengals Beat Podcast, Kelsey Conway sits down with Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin at the 2024 Senior Bowl.



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Dallas, TX

Sealy scores late, Dallas opens with 2-1 victory over Earthquakes

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Sealy scores late, Dallas opens with 2-1 victory over Earthquakes


FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dante Sealy scored his second career goal, finding the net in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to rally FC Dallas to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in a season opener on Saturday night.

San Jose jumped out to a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the match on a goal by Benjamin Kikanović, matching his total in 24 appearances last season.

Dallas pulled even in the 25th minute on Asier Illarramendi’s first career goal. Illarramendi notched an assist in seven starts and 11 appearances last year in his first season.

Sealy’s only other goal came during the 2021 season with Dallas. He has made three starts and 22 appearances in parts of five seasons with the club.

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Maarten Paes totaled four saves for Dallas. Daniel De Sousa Britto saved seven shots for the Earthquakes.

San Jose leads the all-time series 29-22-22, but Dallas improved to 14-12-10 at home.

Dallas played without all three of its designated players. Jesús Ferreira is nursing a muscle injury. Alan Velasco is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in the playoffs last season. Newcomer Petar Musa is in Croatia awaiting a work visa.

Dallas will host CF Montreal on March 2. San Jose travels to play the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 2.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport





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Cowboys linebackers roster review: Lots to sort out after 2023’s challenges

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Cowboys linebackers roster review: Lots to sort out after 2023’s challenges


The linebacker position arguably faced the most adversity of any spot on the Dallas Cowboys’ 2023 roster. That means some big questions to answer going forward, with some players’ returns not guaranteed and a new defensive coordinator potentially bringing new philosophies to the group.

The trouble began in the preseason when rookie DeMarvion Overshown was lost for the year with an ACL injury. The third-round pick had been one of the stars of training camp and was already being considered for a key part in the LB rotation, particularly on passing downs. That move led to Markquese Bell’s transition from safety to linebacker, where he picked up the snaps that would’ve likely belonged to Overshown.

Bell performed admirably given the field promotion, being undersized for LB work but having that mitigated by playing in the nickel. But then, after just five games, Leighton Vander Esch was lost to a neck injury. Now Dallas’ top linebacker was out, leaving Bell and Damone Clark as the next men up with neither possessing Vander Esch’s experience or size.

The Cowboys’ smallish defense, Clark and Bell included, was able to do plenty of good work in 2023. But their weakness against the run was a key issue in late-season losses and the blowout elimination by the Packers. The group would need work even if Dan Quinn had stayed, but now Mike Zimmer’s arrival could mean even bigger changes.

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LBs Under Contract for 2024

  • Leighton Vander Esch – $4.40m cap hit
  • Damone Clark – $1.05m cap hit
  • Markquese Bell (S) – $990k cap hit
  • DeMarvion Overshown – $1.23m cap hit
  • Buddy Johnson – $915k cap hit

One note; we didn’t include Micah Parsons here but rather in our review of the defensive ends. The rare dropback doesn’t make Parsons a true linebacker on this team; his dominant usage is as a pass-rushing edge so it made more sense to look at him in that context. So while technically a LB on the Cowboys roster, like Bell still technically being listed at safety, we’re focusing on where guys spend the majority of their playing time.

Who’s Buddy Johnson, you may be wondering? A fourth-round pick in 2021 by Pittsburgh, Johnson has bounced around practice squads for three years and landed with the Cowboys last October. He’s nothing more than a camp body at the moment.

While Dallas looks forward to getting Overshown back and hopefully regaining his previous momentum, the future is murky for Vander Esch. While he’d be a bargain at just a $4.4 million cap hit, Vander Esch’s chronic neck issues call his reliability and even his career into question. At the time he went on IR last October, some speculated that he might retire rather than risk more severe consequences.

Even if Vander Esch wants to keep playing the Cowboys may not want to facilitate it. They can release him at about $2.15 million in cap relief, which they would also get if he decides to retire. Right now, our bet is that Vander Esch isn’t coming back either by his own choice or by the team’s.

Even if he did return, Dallas would still be in trouble with both Vander Esch and Overshown coming off major injuries. And if Mike Zimmer isn’t down with Dan Quinn’s approach of using safeties as linebackers, that could mean losing Bell and Jayron Kearse (if he’s even re-signed) from the snap counts. That would mean a thin LB group with two of your top three holding significant red flags.

All this sets up a clear priority for the Cowboys this offseason. Replacing Vander Esch is an obvious need if he’s gone, and ensuring against injury if he stays would be nearly as crucial. Dallas needs at least one more run-stopper in the group in either scenario.

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There should be options in free agency. Big-name veterans like Bobby Wagner and Lavonte David are on expiring deals, and though older both are still productive and would bring leadership to the group. A run-focused LB like Tenneesee’s Azeez Al-Shaair or Minnesota’s Jordan Hicks could make sense, being more of an early-down guy who rotates out with Clark and Overshown in nickel.

While the draft is another option, losing Vander Esch would likely push Dallas more toward free agency for a proven guy ready to contribute now. Maybe they have more faith in Damone Clark to lead the pack than we know, but that seems risky for a team with the Cowboys’ aspirations and supposed “all-in” approach to 2024.

Again, we still have to see what’s going to happen with Leighton Vander Esch to really grasp the picture at linebacker. But his staying or leaving doesn’t change the need for attention this offseason. Last year showed the group was not ready to suffer his loss, especially in run defense, and the Cowboys can’t keep letting this weakness linger.



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FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes – lineup prediction and game info – 3rd Degree

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FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes – lineup prediction and game info – 3rd Degree


Here we go!! Season 29 of MLS (and season 27 of 3rd Degree’s coverage) kicks off for FC Dallas on Saturday night (7:30 pm) at Toyota Stadium against Luchi Gonzalez and the Earthquakes.

You can catch all our start-of-season content here:
Season Kickoff Podcast
Six factors that will determine FC Dallas’ fate in 2024
Digging into the FC Dallas 3-4-2-1 depth chart for opening day
Final check on the 2024 FC Dallas roster build
The basics of the FC Dallas 3-4-3

Broadcast Info

TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
Apple TV English: Eric Krakauer and Jalil Anibaba
Apple TV Spanish: Raul Guzman and Carlos Ruiz

English Radio: 1190 am and the FC Dallas App.  Owen Newkirk and Steve Davis are on the call. Pregame at 7 pm.

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Spanish Radio:  FC Dallas app with Carlos Alvarado and Rafa Calderon.

MLS Injury/Player Availability Report

FC Dallas 

OUT: Geovane Jesus (right knee)
OUT: Alan Velasco (left knee)
OUT: Marco Farfan (lower back)
OUT: Amet Korca (left groin)
OUT: Jose Mulato (un-rostered)
OUT: Peter Musa (awaiting P-1 visa)
OUT: Tsiki Ntsabeleng (picking up green card)
Questionable: Enes Sali (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Tarik Scott (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Ale Urzua (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Isaiah Parker (listed in North Texas SC travel squad)
Questionable: Jesus Ferreira (“lower body”)
Questionable: Paxton Pomykal (knee)
Probable: Ema Twumasi (ankle)

Antonio Carrera was loaned to North Carolina FC.

San Jose Earthquakes

OUT: JT Marcinkowski – (Knee Surgery)
OUT: Niko Tsakiris – (Lower Body Injury)

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FCD Lineup Prediction

With Petar Musa not yet in town, the choices at the 9 are Logan Farrington or Eugene Ansah. I’m rolling with Farrington but it could easily be the opposite.

Sebastian Lletget gets the nod over Bernie Kamungo at one of the 10s with Paul Arriola.

Asier Illarramendi and Liam Fraser in MF as Paxton Pomykal is questionable. Dante Sealy at left wingback and Herbert Endeley at right wingback. The three CBs are obvious, as is Maarten Paes in net.

3rd Degree’s XI Prediction for FC Dallas on Opening Day Vs San Jose

Bench Prediction
Jimmy Maurer
Eugene Ansah
Omar Gonzalez
Bernie Kamungo
Nolan Norris
Tomas Pondeca
Ema Twumasi
Patrickson Delgado
Jesus Ferreira or Paxton Pomykal, maybe.

MLS Kit Assignments

MLS Kit assignments for Opening Day 24 FCD vs SJ (Courtesy MLS)
MLS Kit assignments for Opening Day 24 FCD vs SJ (Courtesy MLS)

Green keeper kit? Boo. We like the black one.

Officials

New policy during the lockout, referees will be announced on the day of the game.

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More Game Info

  • FCD vs. SJ all-time: 21-29-22 (87 goals scored, 109 goals conceded)
  • FCD vs. SJ home: 13-12-10 (45 goals scored, 47 goals conceded)

San Jose head coach Luchi Gonzalez was the FC Dallas head coach from 2018-21.

In 2023, FC Dallas Homegrowns (Edwin Cerrillo, Jesús Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, Collin Smith, Nolan Norris, Tarik Scott, Dante Sealy) played a total of 5,978 minutes and made 92 appearances.

Nico Estevez‘s .574 winning percentage is the second-highest among the nine FC Dallas head coaches (No. 1, Oscar Pareja – .585)

FC Dallas has taken on San Jose three times on opening day. Dallas defeated the Earthquakes twice and lost once.

Quakes midfielder Carlos Gruezo played for FC Dallas from 2016 to 2019.

First, game, there aren’t a lot of notes.

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