A quarter of all NFL teams are currently without a special teams coordinator. To find a new coordinator, teams may have to look beyond experienced NFL veterans to fill their special teams coaching positions.
The coaching landscape in the NFL is changing rapidly, so this post may already be out of date by the time it is published. Having said that, at the time I'm writing this, there are eight NFL teams without a Special Teams coordinator.
The Cowboys are one of those teams of course after allowing Joe DeCamillis to move to the Chicago Bears. The other teams with a vacancy on special teams are the Colts, Steelers, Titans, Raiders, Chargers, Lions and Panthers.
The first place most of these teams will look to fill their vacancies is among the ranks of NFL ST coaches who've just been released by other NFL teams. One of the guys fired after the 2012 season, and who might be of interest to the Cowboys is Rich Bisaccia, who was the Chargers' ST coach for the last two seasons, where he took over a 32nd ranked team and turned them into an 8th-ranked team in two years. Monte Kiffin knows Bisaccia very well, as Bisaccia was the ST coach in Tampa Bay from 2002 to 2010, so there may be an angle there. Bisaccia joined Auburn as their ST coach on January 3, so there may be delicate negotiations needed there.
Another ST coach currently without a job is Steve Hoffman, who is well known in Dallas. He was with the Cowboys from 1989-2004, so he has quite a pedigree at Valley Ranch, and maybe even more importantly, he has a connection to Jason Garrett. Keep in mind though that Hoffman was let go in Oakland after only one season in which his special teams unit ranked 31st in the league according to Football Outsiders.
Each year, Football Outsiders puts together special teams ratings based on a number of different factors. They have data that goes back to 1991. Here's an overview of how the currently available NFL ST coaches and their units have ranked over the last three years according to Football Outsiders, with Joe DeCamillis thrown in for reference:
|Name||Alan Lowry||Al Everest||Rich Bisaccia||Steve Hoffman||Brian Murphy||Marwan Maalouf||Joe DeCamillis|
Another option for teams looking for a ST coach could be to look at the available in-house candidates. For the Cowboys, this could mean elevating former Cowboys kicker and current Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers coach Chris Boniol to Coordinator. Even current DL coach Brian Baker could be an option if there's anything to the rumors about Rod Marinelli coming in to coach the defensive line.
There might also be other promising ST assistants available across the league that might warrant a closer look, but it's tricky getting someone with a lot of experience. The special teams of the Patriots, Ravens, Browns and Seahawks for example have all ranked near the very top of the league over the last few years, but all four of their respective ST assistants (Joe Judge, Chris Hewitt, Shawn Mennenga, Marquand Manuel) have only one year of coaching experience.
And finally, there are always the college ranks to consider. Garrett and his staff have ties all over the college scene, so a ST coach like Alabama's Bobby Williams might be an interesting candidate, particularly considering that Williams was the RB coach for the Dolphins from 2005-2006, the same time that Garrett was QB coach there.
Who'd be your choice for Cowboys ST coordinator: An experienced NFL veteran, a current NFL assistant or a coach from the college ranks?