I maybe the minority here, but I am impressed with the Dallas Cowboys off season thus far. My first post will be on coaching staff changes.
I am not a huge Jason Garrett fan. The Green Bay game was a horrible coaching decision. This game and the Detroit games are examples of two very winnable games that were lost on bad coaching decisions. That is the difference in making the playoffs and not.
I am a huge fan of Scott Linehan hiring. He runs the Coryell offense that Garrett prefers. This will focus on getting the ball to play-makers, instead of a more even distribution. Coryell also focuses on running between the tackles and getting the tight end involved heavily. All playing to the strengths of Dallas and their current offensive personnel. One key point, even with Stafford, Johnson et al in Detroit, Linehan ran 8 times more a game than the Callaghan run Dallas offense.
How Linehan will differ from Callaghan:
Linehan will attack vertically through seams, while Callaghan's offense moves laterally on curls and slates. For all those people who noticed less deep routes in Dallas last year, that is a Callaghan offensive trait. Tony Romo will have a lower completion percentage with Linehan than Callaghan, but the returns will be greater on a successful plays. Linehan will get more production from the most talented players, as they are consistently targeted. In the Callaghan system (West Coast) it was developed out of necessity to operate with less talented players, noted by Bill Walsh, the West Coast offenses creator.
I do not like the West Coast offense, but I do think Bill Callaghan is a great offensive line coach.
Kiffinelli came to Dallas with much fan fare. I do like the transition from 3 - 4 to 4 - 3 base. Dallas unfortunately had the smallest defensive ends in football last season. The coaches tried to paste together a defense with injuries and transition personnel. A complete off season to change personnel will help drastically, as speed and recognition are far more important than brute force in the Tampa 2 system.
I also believe the game has passed Kiffin by. He wasn't amazing at USC and that continued in Dallas. I think that Kiffin is having a difficult time connecting with players. Marinelli has recent success in the NFL and has proven he can tweak his Cover-Two into Cover-One and Cover-Three base defenses.
A year in the system and the return from injuries of key players will improve the defense. Adding players to the system, that are suited to play in the system will also be key. Willie Clay seems to have a strong sense of what the defensive coaches are seeking and seem to be seeking their style of players. A year of film study and off season camps will fix the gaping holes between the linebackers and secondary, which lead to massive gains on crossing routes in 2013.
Marinelli also seems to be intrigued by the Seattle modifications of the Cover 2 system, making the system into more of a man-zone hybrid with one safety high. I do like the Seattle defensive line play, where two defensive linemen play 2 gap and two play 1 gap on obvious running downs, then on passing downs, all three play 1 gap. This puts bigger bodies on guards and tackles and lets faster, smaller linebackers run around and make plays on running downs.
Next time - player decisions thus far