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The plot thickens at Valley Ranch

Ah, the intrigue is back at Valley Ranch. Not that it ever truly went away but things just got kicked up a notch with the revelations in the latest article from Calvin Watkins. (BTW, kudos to Watkins for breaking this news).

We all know that the Cowboys were talking to defensive-guru Dom Capers about joining the staff in Dallas. The neat-and-tidy version had him coming in as the linebackers coach which was presumably the only spot left open. That never quite washed with me, Capers is a big name with a big-time reputation in NFL circles and it seemed unlikely that he would settle for being a mere position coach.

This is where the intrigue begins. Watkins recounts the sequence of events in his article.

Sources said Capers called Stewart once the Cowboys contacted him about a job.

Capers, who gave Stewart his first NFL job with the Houston Texans in 2002, asked the Cowboys' coordinator if Capers' presence on the staff would bother him.

A day later, sources said, Stewart told Capers he would be uncomfortable if the veteran coach joined the organization. Capers, according to sources, told Stewart he would pass on the opportunity to join the team.

When Capers informed the Cowboys of his decision, the club talked him into coming to Valley Ranch on Tuesday for an interview.

That’s a lot to digest. I guess I’ll start with Brian Stewart. I can’t really blame him for feeling uncomfortable with Capers being off staff if it was in a coordinator/consultant role instead of just the linebackers coach. One year in to the DC job and having a guy of Capers stature looking over your shoulder will make you uncomfortable. But, in the end, I want what’s best for the Cowboys and if you asked me who I would rather have running the defense, Stewart or Capers, well, that’s a no-brainer. Sorry Brian, but Dom Capers wins that argument hands-down.

Now you have to go further up the food-chain to speculate what’s happening there. Brian Stewart was Wade’s handpicked coordinator. So has Wade endorsed this deal to bring Capers in as a consultant/coordinator? Or is he just receiving marching orders from higher up? With the way the staff has been shaping up it’s beginning to look like a Garrett staff, not a Phillips staff. But Wade really doesn’t have a lot of leverage here, with Garrett in the wings and with the Cowboys disappointing exit from the playoffs, Wade is on unstable footing. He doesn’t have the clout to put his foot down and make a stand for Stewart and that’s assuming that he would want to. Does Wade feel that Capers would make this team better and afford it a better chance of winning big in 2008? If he does, then he would probably endorse the move because his own future as head coach is tied up in that scenario.

So that brings us to the big cheese, the guy who makes the rules. This maneuvering has Jerry Jones’ fingerprints all over it. From what I can see Jerry is putting together a staff that could just as easily function without Wade Phillips in the future. If you’re a fan of the Cowboys, this is a good thing for the long-term future of the franchise. But, the question is how this will affect the immediate future, meaning 2008. Is Wade Phillips comfortable with what’s going on around him? Will it influence the way he coaches this year? If things start going sour at any point during the season will there be a power struggle, a breaking of the team into factions?

For all these questions I have no real answer. But to me a few things are obvious, Jerry is calling the shots again in a way he hasn’t since the Tuna arrived on the scene in 2003. He’s preparing for an eventual future with Jason Garrett as head coach and is trying to surround him with quality coaching talent. That’s not to say that Jerry has forsaken 2008, all that all-star coaching talent could payoff in a big way next year. But it’s going to be a delicate balancing act out at Valley Ranch.

And where Brian Stewart fits into the equation if Dom Capers comes on board is anyone’s guess.

DCFanatic has a diary here and Impatient has a diary, here.