As the dust settles on an interesting past couple of days, the picture for the Cowboys becomes a little bit clearer...we think. With Steve Spagnoulo taking the St. Louis Rams job, the obvious conclusion is that Jason Garrett will return to the Cowboys as their offensive coordinator. While we haven't had any "official word" out of the Ranch, since he was already the OC it stands to reason that's still going to be the case.
Unless Jerry Jones makes some radical move, the question around Garrett is no longer whether he will be here or not, but rather who will be here with him. We don't know how much of a rift there is between Garrett and Terrell Owens, is the reported ultimatum of "him or me" from Garrett about the mercurial wide receiver true? Now that he no longer has any outside leverage to force such a move it appears that the decision ultimately goes back to Jerry. Where Stephen Jones stands on the issue could be an important piece of the puzzle but further speculation is just that, speculation - until the brass at the Ranch makes a statement.
More after the jump including defensive coordinator speculation.
On the other side of the football the Cowboys still have a big decision to make. We know that we don't have a defensive coordinator after the firing of Brian Stewart, the question is will the Cowboys stay in-house to fill the position or will they reach for someone outside of the organization? This is an important decision, obviously, but it goes further than just filling the position. Wade Phillips is still the head coach, but over the last half of the season he was the de facto defensive coordinator. That situation is untenable if the Cowboys want to be major players in 2009. A head coach already has too much on his plate to split his duties between managing a team and managing a specific unit on a team. You can find exceptions, head coaches who are their own offensive coordinators comes to mind, but betting on that working is stacking the odds against you. With the unique personalities on this team, it raises the stakes even higher. A head coach for this roster needs to have his full attention on managing the team and needs strong lieutenants that can be trusted to manage their own units.
The Cowboys have two defensive coaches in-house that have been coordinators before but each has their own perceived deficiencies. Dave Campo was a coordinator with Dallas before with some degree of success but his history suggests a comfort with the 4-3 defense. Coaching the secondary of a 3-4 team like he did in 2008 is not the same thing as 3-4 experience. The secondary unit is the one least affected by the formation, the front-seven are the true difference between the two defenses. Defensive line coach Todd Grantham does have experience coordinating a 3-4 defense but his previous tenure wasn't exactly successful. Personally, I'm not excited about either guy being elevated to the position.
The name that immediately came to mind for most Cowboys fans was that of Dom Capers. Everybody knows that we tried to hire him last year as a defensive consultant until the idea was nixed by Brian Stewart who wouldn't have felt comfortable having his old boss looking over his shoulder. Capers has a reputation for being a quality defensive coordinator and has plenty of experience running a 3-4 defense. Hiring someone like Capers would make it clear that the Cowboys are freeing Phillips up to concentrate on being a head coach instead of managing the defense. But the Cowboys would have competition for Capers' services; he's already interviewed for the Packers open defensive coordinator position, and there is speculation that the Giants might also want him to replace Spagnoulo since he and Tom Coughlin have history together. Capers' agent has said that neither the Giants nor Cowboys have contacted his client as of yet.
Another guy who is an interesting potential DC is recently fired Browns coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel was a very successful 3-4 guy in his days with the Patriots and is available - sort of. He has said he won't make a decision on his future until after he has hip-surgery next month. New Browns head coach Eric Mangini has asked him to remain with the team in an unspecified role, but the lure of a DC job and the money Jerry could spend might be enough to overcome any of that - if the Cowboys really wanted him.
Finally, there's the obligatory mention of Gary Gibbs who was recently fired by the Saints as the DC. He was with the Cowboys for a few years as a linebackers coach and knows the 3-4. I don't put much stock though in that tenuous connection. Of course, other candidates could emerge unless the Cowboys just stay in-house.
For me, I would like to see Capers or Crennel brought in. Both would command respect from the defensive players, both have had success as defensive coordinators and both would send the signal that Wade will not have to manage the defense again this year and could concentrate on the duties of a head coach full-time.
Who you guys got?