Coming into this week, I thought the storyline would go something like this: Parcells announces his return, the focus shifts to filling out the rest of the staff, and we're talking a lot about the Senior Bowl. Obviously, that didn't happen. Bill Parcells' departure has opened up Pandora's Box, and the Cowboys are now dealing with a multitude of issues. Surprisingly, I think Jerry Jones is doing a pretty good job of dealing with a messy situation. Let's face it, on Monday morning of this week, everybody, including Jones, had to be thinking Parcells was returning. The mere fact that they were planning to fly to the Senior Bowl that day illustrates were the mind-set was at that time. Here we are, five days later, and Jerry looks like he had a plan in place, and is following it through. It might not be the right plan, only time will tell, but at least there's a semblance of order when there could've been total chaos.
Priority one was to get Jason Garrett into the fold. The scuttlebutt is that this was going to happen even if Parcells returned. I'm not sure about that, unless Parcells actually wanted it to happen. It's hard to believe that Jerry could've forced a new offensive coordinator on the Tuna - if Parcells was opposed - and we probably would've had the first major rupture in the relationship between the two men. But we'll never really know what would've transpired, because Parcells never got to the point of deciding that issue. It's clear, though, that Jones was ready to move on Jason Garrett quickly, so he must've had that in mind for a while.
As for the head coaching position - which Garrett is still in the mix for - Jones had narrowed down the candidates with alacrity. Unless a new candidate pops up soon, it's a six-horse race with three candidates the betting favorites. Jason Garrett is the X-factor, who knows how he would react as head coach. Dallas might find itself with the next hot "boy genius", or might find itself with a guy who got overwhelmed because he was thrust into the top spot too early.
Wade Phillips and Norv Turner each have certain qualities that appeal to Jones at this moment in time. Phillips is a 3-4 defensive expert, who turned a sorry Chargers defense into one of the better units in the league. There's no doubt that the Dallas defense could use a tune-up like that. Add in the fact that he's been a head coach before, and that makes for an interesting combination that fits the Cowboys agenda. He's someone who won't be learning on the job and who can maximize the potential on defense. Turner is also a former head coach who has a history with Dallas and Jerry Jones, and is highly thought of as a developer of QB's. Dallas just happens to have a young QB that could use some further development. Jones knows Turner, knows what he'd be getting, and knows that he'd be good for Tony Romo.
The downside of hiring either Phillips or Turner is that they've never won big as head coaches. There are always factors to consider when a coach doesn't succeed with a particular team, but the other teams in the NFL basically took a pass on both of them when searching for head coaches earlier this month. They might not have been right for every team, but there is some nice logic to back up their potential hiring in Dallas.
Gary Gibbs, Tony Sparano and Todd Bowles are still candidates, but I calculate them as long-shots. If Jones is going with a defensive-minded coach, I think Phillips beats out Gibbs and Bowles. If he's going with and offensive-minded coach, I think Turner beats out Tony Sparano.
And if they're going with the risk, if they want to go with the big gamble that might have big payoffs down the road, then they should go with Jason Garrett. The Cowboys have a team that's built to win next year, so bringing in a young and inexperienced head coach is a gamble. It might take him a few years to hit his stride. Then again, there are always guys like Eric Mangini who step right in take a team to a higher level.
As it stands right now, given the possibilities that are being presented as the most likely options, I would like to see Dallas bring in Wade Phillips. That's assuming Jones can hang onto Tony Sparano. We need some continuity between last year's offense - which was very good - and this year's offense, which will be under the direction of Jason Garrett in one way or another. Since Garrett is an ex-QB who has also coached QB's, he should also be good for Romo. That leaves Phillips to create a defense that dominates, and he should be able to do that because he has a lot of good material to work with.
It wouldn't be the sexiest of hires, and if you'd ask me about that possibility a few weeks ago, I probably would've been fairly pessimistic. But after hearing what so many players and coaches are saying about Jason Garrett, I think he could be a very good asset for the Cowboys, and pairing him up with an experienced 3-4 guy who has done an excellent job in creating disruptive defenses, just might be the winning combination.
Update [2007-1-26 14:35:8 by Grizz]: The DMN blog reports that Phillips is at Valley Ranch for his interview.