The Dallas Cowboys are convinced that a coaching contingent of Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli can collectively get the team back on track for 2018. In an effort to shuffle the positional coaches below these three, the Cowboys have seen nothing but well-respected coaches leave The Star so far.
After outlining all of the Dallas coaches on expiring contracts here yesterday, the Cowboys announced quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker will not return.
Even with reports that Wilson was considering retirement after 14 years coaching in the NFL, his departure is a twist of the knife to Cowboys Nation. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will ultimately have a lot of say in who coaches his offense below him, and a candidate to replace the highly praised Wade Wilson is Kellen Moore.
Starting QB Dak Prescott has publicly praised both Wilson and Moore as mentors to his early success in this league. Transitioning from one experienced QB coach to one with no formal coaching experience hardly feels like an upgrade though — nor something that should have been a priority this offseason.
Lots of activity beneath Marinelli and Linehan. Wade Wilson, Steve Loney (retired), Matt Eberflus, Joe Baker, Derek Dooley, and Rich Bisaccia all appear as if they’ll be elsewhere in 2018.
As Staff Writer Jess Haynie covered yesterday, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will rejoin John Gruden’s coaching staff as he reportedly prepares to accept the Oakland Raiders’ coaching vacancy.
This brings us to Joe Baker, who has had his hands on the Cowboys’ secondary since 2012. Likely the most promising position group on the team in 2017, the young players Dallas has invested in here will no longer be led by Baker moving forward.
This season was Baker’s second as the Cowboys’ overall secondary coach, first serving as an assistant before leading the team’s safeties in 2014.
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The Cowboys safeties have been coached by Greg Jackson since Baker’s promotion, and now with Baker out of Dallas, it would make sense for Jackson to take on a larger role in the secondary.
While cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie showed nothing but promise as rookies this season, safeties Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, and Xavier Woods all went through their fair share of struggles. A case could even be made that all three of these safeties were hindered by coaching decisions that forced them to play away from their strengths.
Jones was not given as many chances to play down in the box, while Heath was frequently lost in coverage. A sixth round pick, S Xavier Woods was even asked to play some Nickel CB in his first year with the Cowboys.
Raw talent may still win out in the back-end of this Dallas defense, but no longer being held back by coaching is supposed to be the theme of this organizational retool.
It’s impossible to confidently say that the structure around the Cowboys’ secondary is any better now — potentially worse — than it was during the season.
The Next Dominoes to Fall
Definitively, the Cowboys are in need of new coaches at quarterback, tight end, and on special teams.
Their list of coaching needs is also looking likely to include replacements for linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, and offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
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This may be just one football analyst’s perspective, but I don’t see a ton of room for meaningful “fresh ideas” to find their way inside The Star on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff.
If it was possible for this team to get worse coming off the field with a 6-0 win in Philadelphia four days ago, despite it ending their season, I think they’ve found a way.