Our Super Bowl Coaching Staff

If you’ve ever subjected yourself to the painful re-watching of the 1982 NFC Championship game featuring, "The Catch" then you have probably heard Dwight Clark recount the details of that play. One thing he mentions is that Ed "Too Tall Jones" and Joe Montana had an exchange of words after Clark caught that memorable TD pass. Apparently (according to Dwight), Too Tall had said something to the effect of "you’ve just beat America’s Team" to Montana, in which Joe wittingly replied, "well, then you can watch the Super Bowl at home like the rest of America." Now I haven’t heard anyone else speak of this exchange so maybe Dwight Clark or Joe Montana is just a lying liar, but nonetheless the Cowboys did have to watch the Super Bowl from home that year.

In the 2002 season, after enduring three straight 5-11 seasons with a Dave Campo coached team, Jerry Jones must’ve seen something he liked when he watched the Super Bowl that season. For the first time ever, the year’s biggest game featured the leagues #1 offense (Oakland Raiders) vs. the #1 defense (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). And while Jon Gruden grabbed all the headlines as he had just left Oakland for Tampa Bay, there were three other coaches that had a big part in their team’s success that season and who are now a part of our coaching staff.

Bill Callahan.

Head coach of the 2002 Raiders, but is our offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He’ll now be calling the plays for us in 2013. So what did Callahan have back then that made their offense so potent? Rich Gannon went to the pro bowl that season. Their receivers were Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Jerry Porter. And they had a great pass catching, shifty running back, Charlie Garner - who had almost just as many yards receiving (941) as he did rushing (962). Looking at all those guys makes me believe we got every shot at being just as explosive. Romo and his slew of receivers coupled with a healthy DeMarco Murray sure seem like a lot of toys for Callahan to work with. Of course, every cloud has a silver-and-black lining and in this case it would be the offensive line. The 2002 Raiders had two pro bowl linemen – Lincoln Kennedy (guard) and Barrett Robbins (center). We don’t have any pro bowl linemen. So that’s a problem, but maybe he can get the guys we do have to perform at a higher level and if that happens, good things are sure to follow.

Monte Kiffin.

He might mostly be remembered for being Teddy Roosevelt’s roommate in college (that’s not true so don’t google it), but he eventually moved on and become the innovator of the Tampa 2 defense. Kiffin’s defensive philosophy is based on speed over size, creating turnovers, and an emphasis on preventing scores over giving up yardage. The 2002 Buccaneers had a plethora of defense playmakers, however not as many piñatas as El Guapo had in the movie Three Amigos. These playmakers included two pro bowl defensive lineman (Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice), two pro bowl linebackers (Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles), and one pro bowl safety (John Lynch). Now we don’t have the same stars on defensive, but it would not be unreasonable to suggest we might be close. Two of our defensive lineman, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, went to the pro bowl last year and Jay Ratliff has been there before. We have two exceptional linebackers in Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. And while we don’t have a pro bowler at safety, we have some pretty strong talent in our secondary with the C + C Interception Factory, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. But the thing I like best about our potential is that the players we have are great for this new system. We have speed guys. There is no reason to think this can’t be a revamped defense that can be quite effective.

Rod Marinelli.

Yeah, he coached the Lions during the 0-16 season in 2008 so it’s safe to say that head coaching may not be his thing. But before that, he did a great job as the assistant head coach/defensive line coach in Tampa. During his ten year stint with the Buccaneers, Marinelli’s defense had more sacks than any other franchise. And while things didn’t work out in Detroit, he regained his awesomeness when he returned as a defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2010. He was very instrumental in helping the Bears showcase a dominate defense and the thing that most impresses me is that they were first in the league with an astounding 44 forced turnovers last season. In contrast, the Cowboys had only 16. And the Bears turnover greatness was never more evident than when they picked off Romo five times last October, returning two of them for scores. In fact, the Bears had nine defensive scores last season. That’s equivalent to the amount of defensive scores Dallas has had in our last four seasons combined. And Dallas has won every single game in that span where they had a defensive score, going 9-0, so it is understandable why creating turnovers is so important.

Marinelli is big on turnovers. He is having everyone go after all loose balls. Players are required to swipe at a ball that is hanging up on a wall at the entrance of the meeting room for the defense. It’s a mentality and Marinelli is embedding that into his players.

Now all these changes in coaching won’t translate into the #1 offense and #1 defense, but certainly it gives us a lot of hope that we can make a big improvement in each department. If Dallas can make a reasonable jump on both sides of the ball, we can take a big step towards contention. Let’s hope our coaching staff can bring some of that 2002 mojo to Big D in 2013.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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