As KD reported earlier today, the Cowboys will likely not be renewing the contract of wide receivers coach Ray Sherman. The story was initially broken yesterday by ESPN's Calvin Watkins; in his story, Watkins brought up some interesting tidbits that I found revelatory. Apparently, Sherman was a buffer between Terrell Owens and Jason Garrett when the volatile wideout was upset with the direction of the offense and served as a "sounding board" for both Owens and promising rookie Dez Bryant. Moreover, Sherman created "Keepin' it Real" Thursdays where the wide receivers could vent about what was troubling them.
While these practices might have improved Sherman's relationship with the guys he was assigned to coach, it also sounds like, in his attempt to be a "buffer" between the various WRs and Garrett, Sherman, either knowingly or unknowingly, created a barrier that disrupted the chain of command. More importantly, allowing receivers (already a volatile, self-interested group) to come to him when they had a problem allowed for a mixed message to be sent to the players: if you have a problem with Coach "X," go ahead and complain to Coach "Y."
The principle rule of parenting is that parents must work together to prevent precisely this kind of mixed message (wherein, for example, Mommy says the kiddies can't have snacks after 9:00 PM, but Daddy says its okay) by presenting a united front. To do so requires that both parents communicate constantly and develop a clear rubric to which they can refer when decision-making time comes. If one parent--or one coach--says, in effect, "if you don't get the answer you want, come to me," then a crucial breakdown occurs.
This is why I greet Sherman's dismissal with approval. While he is by all accounts a good coach, "Keepin' it Real" Thursdays have, whether he realizes it or not, created a divided front. Thus far, Garrett has repeatedly stressed accountability, particularly in terms of the players and their various responsibilities. But accountability is a two-way street: it must be modeled by the coaching staff, through clear, transparent communication and shared purpose.Its difficult to ask players to be accountable when the coaching staff is on anything other than the same page.
Moreover, it appears that the footprint on Sherman's butt matches Garrett's shoe perfectly. If this is true, I'm ecstatic, for it means that Jerry Jones' press conference comments that Garrett would have absolute authority over coaching hires and personnel--the words we have all been dying to hear--may have been more than posturing for the assembled media. While it remains to be seen whether Garrett has an eye for either coaching or player talent, the prospect of an intelligent, calm man with a coherent long-term plan overseeing these acquisitions has me in a sunny mood.
From here, therefore, Sherman's dismissal looks like a small step backwards in order to take two big steps forward. Know what they call that? Progress.