While the rest of the front page writers are doing a fantastic job of giving us a breakdown of the positional battles that we will see in training camp, I decided to take a more unconventional approach. After following the Cowboys closely during the past few training camps, I have noticed that there has been a rivalry between the offense and defense. Even when Wade Phillips was the head coach, there was a great competition between the offense and defense.
Jason Garrett is still a young head coach who is learning while on the job, but he has the competitive nature in him that you want to see in the head coach of a football team. Even though Garrett doesn't have the title of offensive coordinator anymore, he is still the man who has ultimate control over the offense.
Rob Ryan enters his second season as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator. We all know that Ryan has a completely different personality than Garrett, but the two have put aside their different styles and have come together to form, in my opinion, one of the best coaching staffs in the league.
More after the jump
Ryan Faces Pressure To Field A Better Defense
Rob Ryan will face a lot of pressure from the fans, media and front office this season. He did a lot of talking last year, but his defense failed to live up to the hype that came with Ryan. There are a lot of factors that we can attribute to the defensive failures of last season. Whether it was the shortened offseason due to the lockout, a complicated new scheme or the lack of personnel, the Cowboys' defense fell apart towards the end of the season.
Jerry Jones went out and gave Ryan new weapons, but will Ryan put together a defense that will perform? Throughout the summer, I will be paying close attention to how this defense comes together. The secondary has the potential to be one of the best secondaries in the league, and the inside linebacker position has been upgraded. Tyrone Crawford may be an underrated addition to the roster; the early reports suggest he may be the disruptive five-technique defensive end that Ryan needed.
Ryan may have to dial it back and make his scheme less complicated, but he does appear to have the pieces he needs in order to run the style of defense he wants to run. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are huge additions to this team, and their style of play should allow Ryan to use the blitz more effectively.
The competition between Ryan and Garrett will be at an all-time high this training camp. Ryan will want to show that his defense has finally learned his system, but he will also want to show Jerry Jones that his new players were worth the money and draft picks. Ryan will bring his competitive nature with him to Oxnard, and he will be challenging Jason Garrett and the offense at every practice.
Garrett Needs To Improve In Year Two
Rob Ryan is facing a lot of pressure to improve, but Jason Garrett could be facing even more pressure to perform better. 2011 was the first full season that Garrett has been the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but it was a season full of highs and lows. Garrett enters just his second full season in the NFL as a head coach, but he must produce some results.
With Bill Callahan joining the team as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, we have to wonder how this will affect the offense. Callahan talked about his role with the team back in June.
"Whatever those situations are, I’ve got enough experience in my background to assist where he needs help," Callahan said. "I will say this, though: A lot of that stuff is done during the game plan week. That’s where I see that I can really contribute and help this staff is during the course of the week. Then if you’re well prepared, I think it just unfolds on game days. You’re ready to make those crucial calls."
The defense may have received all of the attention in the headlines this offseason, but there are some significant changes being made to the offense. With the addition of Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, Garrett is probably hoping that the situation at the guard position is solidified. The running game should benefit from the upgrades made to the offensive line and DeMarco Murray is an emerging star who could be a franchise running back. Garrett has a lot of weapons, but he needs to use them correctly.
Garrett loves competition, but so does Rob Ryan. The offense and defense will push each other every single day in training camp. In 2010, the Cowboys just did not have a good training camp. The poor play in the pre-season carried over into the regular season. I never want to see another training camp and pre-season like that again, and I believe that under the watch of Garrett and Ryan, we will see a competitive team that will bring their best every practice.
The competition between Garrett and Ryan should be another storyline to pay close attention to this summer. Each coach has a lot to prove this season after failing to live up to the expectations they faced in 2011, and you know that they want to test and give each other everything they have in order to improve their football team.