Multiple sources are reporting that the Cowboys hired Brian Baker to be the defensive line coach. The only thing missing is the official announcement from Valley Ranch.
Yesterday, Baker told Darin Gantt from the Rock Hill Herald that part of the reason he decided to accept the Cowboys’ offer was that he felt the Cowboys have all the pieces in place to win.
"They’ve got a quarterback in place, and all the pieces you need to win," Baker said. "I don’t think the world was out of whack saying ‘Whoa, that group should have won last year.’ I think last year was the anomaly, and that we’ll turn it around pretty quick."
Baker's hiring comes not a moment too soon, as the Cowboys have some important decisions to make on the future of the defensive line. Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher are all set to become free agents, and question marks surround Igor Olshansky’s future in Dallas. Baker will help make those decisions as the team prepares for the start of the scouting combine in three weeks - and perhaps the start of free agency sometime thereafter.
Baker had been an assistant at North Carolina for barely a month when the Cowboys job was offered last week. Baker told the Rock Hill Herald on Tuesday that the Cowboys' offer was simply too much to turn down.
"It was a huge difference ... I mean huge."
Strangely enough, Baker never signed a contract with UNC, according to a school spokesman. His predecessor at UNC had a base salary of $240,000 and it’s not hard to imagine that the Cowboys easily topped that.
In a story about Baker’s hire on the Tar Heels website, UNC Head Coach Butch Davis describes Baker as one of the top defensive line coaches in the NFL. Former Tar Heel Julius Peppers, who played for Baker in Carolina, also found some positive words for Baker:
"I learned a lot from him and I believe I improved as a player as a result of being coached by him… I know the players will benefit from his influence and guidance both on and off the football field."
According to the Panthers media department, Baker was extremely popular among Panthers players, who responded well to his enthusiastic and animated style of coaching. The DMN's high-energy assistant".describes him as a "
At the end of the day, though, it was the star that brought Baker to Dallas:
"I mean, it’s Dallas," Baker said. "The thing that made me entertain the offer after such a short time with North Carolina was who it was from. The Cowboys are a special franchise. … I’ve talked to a lot of people who respond like, ‘You’re crazy for thinking about not taking it.’"
Baker has 15 years of NFL coaching experience, with stops in San Diego, Detroit and Minnesota in addition to the last two years on the Panthers staff. Baker made his NFL coaching debut as defensive line coach for the San Diego Chargers in 1996 after working on the college level for 12 years.
If you want a better feel for what Coach Baker is like, here's a video of Baker answering some reporter questions:
Follow this link for a video of Baker discussing X's and O's with Brian Billick.
Brian Baker coaching experience
2009-2010: Carolina Panthers – Defensive Line Coach
2006-2008: St. Louis Rams – Defensive Line Coach
2001-2005: Minnesota Vikings – Defensive Line ('01 & '04-'05), Linebackers ('02-'03)
1997-2000: Detroit Lions – Defensive Line Coach
1996: San Diego Chargers – Defensive Line Coach
1987-1995: Georgia Tech – Outside Linebackers Coach and Defensive Coordinator ('95)
1986: Army - Fullbacks Coach
1984-1985: Maryland – Outside Linebackers Coach