It's Black Monday: Will Heads Roll In Dallas?

Jim McIsaac

In the coaching profession there are two types of people: those who got fired and those who will be. After another 8-8 season, it is highly likely that a few in Dallas fall into the "will be" category. Who are they?

There are several men on the Dallas Cowboys sidelines who are potential victims of the team's mediocre season. It is also possible that team owner Jerry Jones will either blow the whole staff up or leave the status quo. My best guess is that he will not lean toward either extreme; some will go and some will stay. Assuming that my hunch is correct, the big question becomes "Which coaches will get their own visit from the Turk?"

First among the possible contenders is obviously head coach Jason Garrett. Never short of critics, Garrett has guided Dallas to three consecutive 8-8 seasons and has failed to win "the big one" that would earn his team a playoff berth in each of those years. While there is much to be said for the fight he has instilled in his squad, they continue to fall short. An oft-mentioned issue is the on-going mismanagement of game situations. From the well-known icing Dan Bailey incident to the recent issues with questionable use of his time outs, there is a strong case that can be made that Jason is not an effective in-game decision maker. Of late, I have come to the conclusion that he leaves a lot to be desired in this area.

My next likely target for Jerry's wrath is strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. In recent seasons, there have been too many issues with hamstring injuries. While this is a problem around the NFL, Dallas has suffered far more than its share. While Woicik has the best resumé in the league, that has not translated into tangible results on the playing field. With the rash of injuries that continue to decimate the Cowboys, it stands to reason that the front office would consider other options in an attempt to keep their key pieces on the field.

Has the game passed Monte Kiffin by? That is another legitimate question that should be asked. The Dallas defense has resembled a "great blue sieve" this season. While they have been handicapped by injuries that forced the Cowboys to use 40 different men on defense this season, it must be remembered that the team was struggling to get off the field even with a fairly intact starting lineup. There have been ongoing issues with guys like Bruce Carter who still do not seem to understand their role in what is considered to be a relatively simple scheme. The responsibility for teaching them the concepts falls squarely on Kiffin and his assistants. So does the blame for not achieving success in teaching those concepts.

A final head that might be on the chopping block belongs to Bill Callahan. Throughout the season, there have been times where the play calling has been simply atrocious. Callahan assuming the mantle of calling the offense was supposed to improve the Dallas offense, yet it seems to have made the situation worse. From inexplicable choices to abandoning a running game that had proven to be highly effective, to a strategy that basically took Dez Bryant out of games during key situations; some of the offensive choices defy all attempts at explanation. This is an area that has regressed from a poor starting point. Perhaps a new offensive coordinator, and even a new scheme, is in order.

Based on what we have been hearing over the past few weeks, I am making an assumption that Jason Garrett will return. Jones likes many of the things that he has brought to the team. So do I, but I am not blind to the coach's shortfalls. I would most likely make the change, but I am not the owner and general manager. Beyond Garrett, I do not consider any of the other three coaches referenced above assured of returning to Valley Ranch next season. I suspect that Kiffin might have a second season to finish installing the 4-3, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. As for the other two; I expect that Woicik and Callahan will most likely be the Cowboys victims on Black Monday.

Now it is your turn; what changes would you make in the Dallas coaching staff if you had the power?

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