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Dallas Cowboys State of the Franchise: Coaches Edition

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Draft Blog - Upon Further Review: Is Jerry Jones Really The "Knucklehead" of the Week? 2

jason-garrett-a-new-head-coach*Will not be focusing on Strength and Conditioning coach at this time until we can get some more feedback from physical therapist and exercise science experts.

The playoffs start this Saturday–one familiar truth resounds and it has the making of a “Groundhog’s Day” movie.   For the third consecutive year the Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8 and lost their week 17 “win and you’re in” game.

Again, the Cowboys were battling unforeseen factors that seem to always haunt this team.  It seemed like players were dropping like flies from the onset and the team struggled to recover, starting 19 defensive lineman who weren’t even thought to be good enough to be on active rosters.

That being said, it’s understandable that frustration is mounting amongst Cowboys Nation.  Cowboys fans are used to a history of winning and the general thought is that this current crop of front office guys and coaches is marring the image of a once legendary franchise.

With the offseason upon us, it’s important to ask the question, “what changes are going to be made to put us in a position to contend?”

For this installment we’ll look at the coaches and what their future holds:

 

The Current Figureheads:

kiffinJason Garrett:  Coach Garrett isn’t going anywhere.  Jerry Jones continues to echo his commitment to Garrett at least through his contract, which expires after 2014.  Garrett is a smart guy who believes in a process but has been haunted by poor game management and a merry-go-round of supporting staff that has threatened any benefit of continuity he brings.  With one more year to prove he’s the guy in Dallas, I expect Garrett to take some control and save face.

Monte Kiffin:  Kiffin is over 70 years old and ran a defense, albeit decimated with injuries, that was historically bad—surrendering over 400 yards a game.  There is a thought that Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme can’t win in this league but I tend believe that this scheme didn’t fit with this group of personnel.  The biggest problem was trying to force fit players into a scheme instead of the opposite.

Bill Callahan: Callahan is a tremendous offensive line coach who can directly be credited the development of Pro-Bowl Left Tackle Tyron Smith.   However, since his promotion to offensive coordinator, Callahan has been under fire.   This offense is one of the most talented in the league and at times looked like they were comparable to that of Jacksonville.   There’s no doubting the benefit of Callahan on this staff but his ineptitude calling an offensive ball game is a real issue.

 

What Lies Ahead?

Earlier this week I reached out to Dallas Cowboys writer Jeff Sullivan to discuss what we can expect coaching wise.  Jeff replied via Direct Message on Twitter saying, “Kiffin is gone, that’s all that is certain right now.  Some position guys will be let go.  If not Marinelli, could start over on (defense).”  Consequently, I asked if Kiffin goes if Marinelli (often known as a loyalty guy) would follow other guys he gets along with, namely Lovie Smith.  Jeff had this to say, “(Marinelli) would leave if Lovie lands a head job.”  So that leaves us with a very real possibility that defensively we’ll clean house.

What about the offense?

The team has been hush on what moves are pending but I would imagine that Bill Callahan is facing the same fate as that of Kiffin.  This team needs a serious change but more importantly, Garrett needs an opportunity to bring in a staff he trusts to execute the “process” he’s trying work out.

The Cowboys will miss Callahan’s ability to develop offensive linemen but they will be happy to have a fresh face at the position that Garrett feels confident in letting run a gameplan.

The Candidates

Offensive Coordinator:

Norv Turner: Turner and Garrett have history together and Turner also has history with this franchise.  Too me, this is an appealing location for Turner, not just because of Garrett but because he knows there will be a possibility of becoming a head coaching candidate again if he has success here.

Gary Kubiak:  Why not?  Kubiak is a brilliant coach who really should be considered for Head Coaching vacancies around the league.  However, there is a hot new trend of either getting successful older coaches (Gruden, Lovie) or big name college coaches (Bill O’Brien, Charlie Strong).  If Kubiak is still looking for a job, why not contact him.

In-House: Why not someone like Wes Phillips? Or Derek Dooley? There is benefit to guys who already know the players and won’t want to implement an entirely different scheme.  Dooley has bred some very good players and has experience competing tough SEC defenses.  Some options there.

 

Defensive Coordinator:

Leslie Frazier: Frazier was recently fired from Minnesota but is essentially a Garrett clone.  He runs a similar style of defense to the Tampa 2 and has been successful in doing so.  Frazier is a straight-faced, tough coach who players have loved everywhere he’s went.

Jim Schwartz: Not a likely candidate here but an option.  Schwartz is fiery but I also think he’s a grade-A jerk.  If this happens, God help us all.

Todd Grantham: Grantham has history with the Cowboys as a defensive line coach and has been making his bucks coaching strong defenses and NFL-caliber talent at the University of Georgia.  Grantham can run any scheme but seems to prefer a 4-3.  From that base he does everything from the 4-3 flex to the bear.  He’s a strong defensive mind that has a good future.

 

The Prediction:

Jason Garrett, as I’ve said before, is going to do everything that he can make sure he puts the best coaching staff together to ensure he achieves his goal and ultimately a contract extension.  It’s early but here is who I think he brings in:

Offensive Coordinator:  Derek Dooley

Defensive Coordinator: Leslie Frazier

Defensive Line Coach: Todd Grantham (though you’d have to give him great incentive to leave the Georgia Program… $$$)

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1 Comment
  • http://gravatar.com/footballmensa football mensa

    Well…we get more of the same with Kiffin. The oc remains the same. JG remains as hc. If they implode or finish 8-8 the staff including JG will change. So then what ? Winning will always be second to being the face of the Cowboys for Jerry.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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Dallas Cowboys

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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