If it wasn't already painfully obvious the Dallas Cowboys need to replace Jason Garrett as their Head Coach, it should be now after his poor coaching decision to not to go for the win against the Houston Texans in overtime Sunday night. It was just one of many coaching blunders in Garrett's tenure since replacing Wade Phillips nearly a decade ago. It's time for a change!
With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of a few candidates with varying coaching experience who would be on my short list to replace Jason Garrett as he Dallas Cowboys next head coach. I included everything from a few who have won the Super Bowl as a HC to collegiate coaches who have no NFL coaching experience.
I know my list of potential head-coaching candidates for the Dallas Cowboys won't match up exactly as yours, but I believe everyone I included here would be an upgrade over Jason Garrett. Continue reading below to see who I would like to see become the next Head Coach for America's Team.
Super Bowl Winning HC Candidates
Sean Payton would definitely be at the top of my list to replace Jason Garrett as the Dallas Cowboys next head coach. He not only won the Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2009, but is arguably one of the best/most creative play callers in the entire NFL. Plus, he already has a good relationship with Jerry Jones and the rest of the Jones family.
Now, Payton is still technically under contract with the Saints until 2020, but they have a kind of hot and cold relationship. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he is somehow looking for a new coaching gig after the season, and I don't think Jerry Jones would hesitate to bring him aboard. I think he would absolutely be able to get the most out of the Cowboys talented, yet poorly coached offense.
Although Sean Payton would be my first choice to replace Jason Garrett, Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy would be my close second. He is another Super Bowl winning HC (2010) who I believe would be an upgrade over Garrett. And as luck would have it, there is a high possibility he could be looking for a new job after the season.
If you believe the scuttlebutt, McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers aren't quite seeing eye to eye nowadays. Their rocky relationship could end up costing McCarthy his job, which could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. He seems to always have the Packers making a strong push for the Super Bowl each and every year and has a proven track record, which should be welcomed with open arms in Dallas. It would be a little weird at first to see him sporting Cowboys gear, but that would fade quickly once he got the organization back on track.
First Time HC Candidates
The highest job title Kris Richard has held so far in his young coaching career in the NFL is as the Defensive Coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. He hasn't received the opportunity to show what he can do as a head coach yet in the league, but I don't think it will be much longer until that happens. In fact, he could end up replacing Jason Garrett.
We are still in the early portions of the 2018 season, but we have already seen the impact Richard has made with the Dallas Cowboys. We have seen a much improved defense so far this season. They are much more aggressive and playing with a different kind of attitude than we have seen in the past. It's that attitude that could endear Richard to Jerry Jones. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Dallas already has their next head coach in Kris Richard.
Matt LaFleur probably isn't a name that the majority of you are very familiar with, but that doesn't mean he's not known in NFL circles. I believe he is an up-and-coming head coach candidate, although he hasn't held a job title higher than offensive coordinator so far in the league.
You could say that LaFleur is a product of the Shanahan coaching tree. He developed a good relationship with Kyle Shanahan and has followed him from the Texans, to the Redskins, and then to the Falcons. From there he joined Sean McVay, who he worked with in Washington, as the offensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, although McVay still handle the majority of the playcalling duties. In order to get out from McVay's shadow, LaFleur joined the Tennessee Titans to become their OC in 2018.
He is still a little unproven, but I think he is going to make a really good head coach in the NFL someday. If Jerry Jones wants to take a chance on someone like that, I would absolutely be on board with Matt LaFleur as the next Dallas Cowboys head coach.
John DeFilippo is also a name that many of you probably have never heard of. But, I guarantee that he is well known around the NFL and would be on a lot of short lists for teams looking for their next head coach. And yes, that includes the Dallas Cowboys.
DeFilippo is someone who is already well-versed in the NFC East division. He spent the last two years (2016-17) as the quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, but is currently serving as the offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. I believe the next step in his coaching career will be as a head coach, and that could possibly be with the Cowboys.
I really like the way DeFilippo handles himself and I think he is going to make a really good head coach when he receives the opportunity. He is doing a masterful job as the Vikings OC right now, especially considering how porous their offensive line is. I believe that is a testament to his ability as a coach, which is unfortunately something we can't say the same about Jason Garrett.
Collegiate HC Candidates
If Jerry Jones is looking for someone to make the kind of out of nowhere success that Sean McVay had the Los Angeles Rams, he should set his sights on the college ranks and try to lure Lincoln Riley to the NFL to take over for Jason Garrett as the next head coach for the Dallas Cowboys. I believe he has the same kind of likability as McVay and might be just as good as a play caller.
Lincoln Riley has turned the Oklahoma Sooners into a perennial top 10 offensive unit when he first became their offensive coordinator in 2015 and continued that productivity once he took over for Bob Stoops as the HC in 2017 till now. He has taken underrated quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) and developed them into Heisman hopefuls and pro prospects. I think his infectious personality and attitude would be welcomed with open arms in Dallas.
David Shaw does have a little bit of NFL coaching experience as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, and Oakland Raiders, but nothing of real significance as of yet. He also has a pretty impressive track record as the head coach at Stanford, which makes him a pretty intriguing candidate to become the Dallas Cowboys next head coach.
At Stanford, David Shaw runs a program that would help him seamlessly transition into the NFL. He runs a pro system on both offense and defense, which is why Stanford players generally make the transition into the NFL relatively easily. I think he would be on a lot of short lists for NFL teams looking for a head coach, but so far Shaw has made no indication he wants to leave the college ranks. Maybe a job offer from the Dallas Cowboys is what he's waiting for.
Do you like any of these head-coaching candidates for the Dallas Cowboys?
Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Extremely Formidable
Randy Gregory showed flashes last season of the potential he has as a pass rusher. Even though he only managed one start he did see action in 14 games. Had registered 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss and 15 hits on the quarterback. That's very good production with limited opportunities. Now, this sets up the Dallas Cowboys on the edge getting to the quarterback, and here's how.
The Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn via trade from the Dolphins back in March. He is set to start at right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory, who lines up on the right side as well, can potentially make said side a huge problem for offenses on 2019.
Let's just take a typical season from Quinn which is between 8-9 sacks. If Gregory can give at minimum what he did last season, that's around 15 sacks just between the two of them alone. Now, as we all know, Lawrence can be penciled in for double-digit sacks routinely at this point. So given this information that's a potential 25-30 sacks just from these three players. This is without including guys such as Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks (assuming they make the final roster).
Why is Gregory's potential impact so important? For me, it's simply where he lines up at defensive end, on the right side. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means when they drop back to pass they face left side defensive ends, with their backs to defensive ends coming off the right side. If you can consistently pressure a quarterback from his blindside the opportunities for sacks and fumbles increase. Regardless of how skilled a quarterback is you can't avoid what you can't see.
Of course, this all depends on what the NFL does regarding the reinstatement of Gregory. He was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, a situation he is all too familiar with. My guess is Gregory and the Cowboys will ask for a conditional reinstatement like he was given by the NFL in 2018. What this would do is allow Gregory to participate in meetings and condition work until he's a full participant. He is set to apply for that reinstatement within the next few days.
The only thing Randy Gregory can do now is play the waiting game. The league is currently considering the possibility of softening their stance on marijuana use. If they are serious about it I can see Gregory getting reinstated even if it's on a conditional basis. If this is granted the Cowboys will be getting big-time pressure off the edge with Lawrence, Quinn, and Gregory in 2019.
CB Jourdan Lewis Getting Ready For Bounce-Back 2019 Season
For a third round pick, cornerback Jourdan Lewis sure did come to Dallas with his fair share of hype.
In fact, much of Cowboys Nation was more excited about Lewis joining the Cowboys than they were about either of the team's first two selections in that same draft, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie. But while Awuzie has soared to starting cornerback levels with Dallas during his first two seasons, Jourdan Lewis has been forced to take a back seat.
After a promising rookie season, Jourdan Lewis didn't get much playing time at cornerback in 2018. Anthony Brown took over as the starting slot corner, while Byron Jones and Awuzie manned the outside. This left Lewis as the odd man out, despite what many consider to be impressive cover skills.
Lewis is not allowing this down season to eat away at him too much, though. While speaking with the media last week at SportsCon in Dallas, Lewis gave his thoughts on how his year spent behind the other young Cowboys corners is only fueling him for the future.
"As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."
Considered undersized by the standards typically used by Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, some have argued that Lewis was never given a fair shot to earn playing time once Richard took over in 2018. Whether or not this is true can't ever be said for sure, and the level of play Anthony Brown exhibited from the slot in 2018 didn't leave much room for substitutions either.
Still, Jourdan Lewis says he appreciates that time he spent on the bench, and he hopes that it will only drive him towards bigger and better things down the road.
"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly...Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly."
The Cowboys cornerback situation didn't get any less crowded this offseason. Not only is Dallas bringing back all three of the aforementioned starters from a year ago, but they also drafted Miami's Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.
That cornerback room is full of talent. Not only does this create a luxury for the Cowboys at one of the league's most important positions, but it also breeds immense competition between the corners come training camp.
Which, if you didn't know, begins on July 26th.
Jason Witten Is A Future Hall Of Famer, But Is He Now Underrated? Some NFL Execs Say So
It's hard to imagine how a 37 year old tight end who was more recently in the broadcast booth than on the football field could possibly be "underrated," but that's what some NFL Execs seem to believe.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman conducted a survey of executives around the league, asking them who they believed the most underrated player in the NFL was entering the 2019 season. While Steelers running back James Conner was the most common player named, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was also reportedly brought up.
I have to admit, this is shocking.
As mentioned, Witten is well past his prime and saw decline in his play over the last few seasons he played with the Cowboys. His retirement made sense, and his un-retirement was a surprise to most. But I suppose now that seemingly no one nationally expects Witten to do much of anything in 2019, he can be thought of as underrated.
This sentiment echoes statements which former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo made earlier last week. Romo claimed that his favorite target would pick right back up where he left off in Dallas, and would be back to the Witten of old in no-time.
"The reality of it is as long as, if you know the game the way he does, there are certain positions—he plays one of them at tight end—he's always going to have the nuance to get open." - Tony Romo
I'm still very much in "wait and see" mode with this entire Jason Witten situation. It's hard to wrap your head around a player we all thought was old and slow when he was 35 coming back after a year in retirement to be a productive NFL pass catcher.
While Witten's numbers have declined across the board, his touchdown production actually improved in 2017. If, at the very least, Jason Witten can become a secondary red zone option for the Cowboys offense, then his addition would have been well worth it offensively.
Jason Witten will wear a gold jacket in Canton Ohio one day, but will his 2019 contributions give the voters any extra reason to support his candidacy?
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