The morning after. We've had around 24 hours to take the whole thing in and in that time the speculation is rampant. It's almost impossible to keep up with all the "news", I call it "news" but really it's just a bunch of people guessing what might come next. So let's take a look at the different directions Jerry Jones could move in hiring a new coach.
Let's take on Jimmy Johnson first, because most of the Cowboy Nation would be thrilled to see Jimmy back on the sidelines. It doesn't look like that's possible. Randy Galloway spoke to Jimmy and reports back.
Then, however, came a pause, like maybe the door was going to be left open just a tad.
"No way," added The Jimster, firmly. "I got no desire to leave this for that grind."
You never say never, but that one seems very unlikely. Along with that are other established coaches that seem to be outside the serious group of candidates. Bill Cowher would probably not be ready to coach again so soon, plus you'd have to work out compensation with the Steelers. Jeff Fisher is working on a long-term extension with the Titans and the Tennessee brass has already said they wouldn't give Dallas permission to talk to him.
Another name that popped up overnight is the Bears' Lovie Smith, who grew up a Dallas fan and is the lowest-paid coach in the league. I'm sure that the Bears will remedy the contract situation with Smith now that he's taken them to a Super Bowl, and he probably likes what he's built in Chicago, so I don't put much stock in that one either.
Next, the college coaches. Pete Carroll would probably want total control, like he wanted for the Miami job, and Jerry Jones is going to do that again. That's my opinion, but I feel pretty strongly that after ceding control to Parcells for four years, he probably wants back in the game again. Bob Stoops might be a guy who will get a call, and is a real possibility, except that Jones is rumored to be disenchanted with moving a college coach straight to the pros again. Even the great Jimmy Johnson took an adjustment period to the NFL game until he started winning.
And that brings up a key, but sometimes overlooked point. Whoever comes in and coaches this year is not likely to get the standard grace period given to a new coach. The new Dallas coach will be expected to win right away. He will be given a talented roster that was able to make the playoffs and it has a young QB who looks like he's the real deal. Jerry Jones is not interested in dismantling a roster and starting anew. Jerry will expect to win next year, and win big. So there will be no on-the-job training, there will be no grace period to re-make the roster in the new coach's image. It will be expected that the new coach will take what we currently have; augment it with free agency and the draft, then go out and win in 2007. In my mind, that precludes most college coaches, and maybe some young NFL assistants that have potential, but no track record.
I've also seen two schools of thought born over the last 24 hours. One leans toward hiring someone who can continue to mentor Tony Romo and help him reach his full potential. This school of thought says that Romo is your most important project and that as he goes so goes the 2007 Cowboys. Students of this school see someone like Norv Turner as the right replacement. Turner has worked and developed quite a few QB's in this league, including our own Troy Aikman, and he has head coaching experience, even though he failed at those stops.
Caldwell has interviewed for head coaching vacancies at Arizona in 2007 and Buffalo in 2006. So he's legit. If in fact the Cowboys believe Tony Romo is the answer at quarterback, it's in their best interest to bring in someone who can accelerate his development.
Caldwell has spent the last five years working with the best quarterback in the NFL - Peyton Manning. So he has plenty of coaching expertise to offer a young quarterback. He also would implement the Indianapolis offense that has ranked in the top three in yards each of the last four seasons.
The other school of thought revolves around the 3-4 defense. Parcells spent his time here rebuilding the Cowboys roster in his image, and that included a big, powerful 3-4 defensive unit. Earlier this year, Jerry Jones said that no matter who replaces Parcells when the time came, the Cowboys were sticking with the 3-4. Given that the whole defense is built around that scheme, and that the Cowboys and Jones aren't looking to take a step back and spend a few years re-tooling the defense to make it work under another scheme, there is some weight to the notion that Dallas wants a 3-4 defense coach in the mix.
Dallas could achieve this by hiring someone like Wade Phillips, who has extensive experience in the 3-4 defense, but also has head coaching experience. But they could also solve it a different way. Say Jerry hired someone like Norv Turner - since we have the defensive coordinator spot open, Jerry could require that they hire a 3-4 defensive coordinator. Usually owners wouldn't meddle with a new coaches assistant hires that much, but Jerry is no ordinary owner.
There is one other factor in the coaching search that must be considered, teams now are required to interview at least one minority candidate. There's a name that's been popping up recently that might fit that requirement and be a serious contender for the crown. San Francisco assistant and former Bears' great Mike Singletary.