Dallas Cowboys fans are very disappointed in the way the team finished the 2012 season. Owner Jerry Jones is flat out angry, if his statements since the season-ending loss are any indication. He claims that changes are going to be made.
This leaves the question open of just what changes are going to be made. As those who follow the Cowboys have seen over the years, Jones talks a lot, but what actually happens is not always easy to predict from what he says. His responses tend to be a bit emotional, and the statement he made during his weekly radio spot on KRLD-FM showed some definite anger.
"We've got to have a way to play football that maximizes what Tony (Romo) does best. I can assure our fans this, that it's going to be very uncomfortable, from my standpoint, it's going to be VERY uncomfortable for the next few weeks and months at Valley Ranch."
The statement, as has been noted several places, supports the belief that the team is going to stick with quarterback Tony Romo. It also includes a bit of a promise to fans that something is going to be done to fix things. That would seem to mean something is going to change in the way of personnel.
There is already rampant speculation about what players might be cut or go on the trading block. Outside of Romo, longtime "core" players such as Jay Ratliff, and Miles Austin have all been mentioned on radio and in the Twitterverse as candidates to be traded, or in Ratliff's case, just cut outright. This is one way for the team to make some major changes, but those changes are more long range. In the shorter term, the real interest is what might happen to shake up the coaching staff with Dallas.
Along with Romo, Jones has also signaled clearly that Jason Garrett will continue as the head coach. But with coaches all over the league losing their jobs or being given permission to interview with other teams, there are a lot of candidates that could be brought in to revamp the coaching staff. The prolific OCC has already taken a look at whether the team might replace quarterback coach Wade Wilson. ESPN's NFC East blogger Dan Graziano has wondered whether Rob Ryan should be nervous about his job.
Meanwhile, there has long been speculation here and elsewhere about whether Jason Garrett should give up the play-calling role and offensive coordinator duties. On Monday, immediately after the game, Garrett stated that he was not looking to give up any of his current responsibilities.
"I would certainly anticipate the status quo from that standpoint," Garrett said Monday,
However, on Wednesday, he seemed far more open to a change in his roles.
"If we think collectively that something can help us in doing something different than we're doing it now -- that's going to make us a better football team -- I'm open to it," Garrett said. "I've made no bones about that from the beginning. I just believe in that from the bottom of my heart."
It is always a bit difficult to decipher Garrettspeak, but this hints at a bit of discussion having already taken place. I suspect that Jerry Jones feels that Garrett is doing some things well, but not necessarily on the sidelines during games. If he is committed to keeping Garrett as his head coach and Tony Romo as his quarterback, then I think the offensive coordinator/play-calling job is likely the most significant change he can make. And it sound like Garrett has already started to signal his readiness to go that direction. It would make sense if he sees this kind of a move coming anyway, because being on board with it would give him more effective input into who gets the job. Jones has already signaled that he is prepared to listen to outside advisers, so perhaps Garrett is taking steps to make sure he retains his influence on how his staff is structured.
This immediately stirred up the Norv Turner rumors, which were pretty active to begin with.
If the Cowboys bring in another offensive coordinator/play-caller, former Chargers coach Norv Turner would seemingly be a primary option. Turner is a former Cowboys offensive coordinator who called plays for the Super Bowl title teams in 1992 and 1993.
There is a certain logic to this, since Turner, unlike Lovie Smith and Andy Reid, does not have a bunch of teams trying to hire him as a head coach. The problem is that Turner has stated he will not be going to Dallas.
If Turner is not interested in the job, and he does look to have other offers that may come his way, then where does that leave the issue for the Cowboys? Well, there is always the possibility of promotion from within, namely giving the play calling duties to current offensive coordinator (although largely in name only) Bill Callahan. But it is still early in the process. Coaching staffs are still being shaken up, and there are twelve playoff teams whose staffs might have attractive prospects that can't openly be approached.
It is likely that a real decision on this would not be made for some weeks. The real question that remains is if Jerry Jones is serious about making meaningful changes. I think he is, and that the moves are coming. We will have to see what actually happens to know if Jones is actually going to make significant changes in his team.