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Dallas Cowboys: What Changes Should Be Made On The Coaching Staff?

It's over, folks. The 2011 season is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys are now officially an 8-8 team.

A lot of us wanted more, but in yet another one of his brilliant posts, OCC has pointed out how this may be exactly what the team needs to effectively move ahead. Obviously, there is a need for new talent on the field. But first, the team needs to decide who is going to select, coach and lead that talent.

Rabblerousr, in his post on the tired Dallas memes, had a link to Bob Sturm's excellent breakdown of the talent issue. Sturm points out, quite correctly, that the talent evaluation prior to the draft has been, to put it mildly, disappointing in recent years. Sturm lays the blame at Jerry Jones' feet, which is sort of what most people do.

But in one of his very educational fanposts, CoachGary lays out the argument that the whole draft process is much more of a consensus effort for the Cowboys. And that means that it isn't all at Jerry's feet. Or Jason Garrett's, either. Nor is the performance of the team on the field. While the talent available limits what the players are able to do, there still has to be some responsibility laid on the coaching staff.

So take it all together. There has to be an infusion of talent, both through the draft and free agency. But that is not going to happen right away. There must be some deadwood cut out to make room for new talent, and it looks like there could be a lot of it chopped away, with the contracts for 20 players currently with the team expiring. But that does include some players like Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiammetta who most of us want to see retained. And the team is already making some moves with an eye to the future, signing four practice squad players to new deals today, which indicates that some changes are impending. These are all decisions that need the input of the whole coaching staff.

The team is not going to get a new GM. That is just a given. And the GM who isn't going anywhere has already stated that Head Coach Jason Garrett's job is secure, which is absolutely the best decision this year.

But how many assistant coaches are secure? More importantly, who should be?

A look at possibililtes after the jump.

Let's take a look at the full list of assistant coaches from the mothership.

Offensive Coaches

Defensive Coaches

Specialty Coaches

Jimmy Robinson
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers

Rob Ryan
Defensive Coordinator

Mike Woicik
Strength and Conditioning

John Garrett
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.

Dave Campo

Joe DeCamillis
Special Teams Coordinator

Skip Peete
Running Backs

Matt Eberflus

Chris Boniol
Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers

Wade Wilson

Brian Baker
Defensive Line

Walt Williams
Assistant Strength and Conditioning

Hudson Houck
Offensive Line/Running Game Coord.

Brett Maxie
Secondary / Safeties

Wes Phillips
Assistant Offensive Line

Ben Bloom
Defensive Quality Control/ Linebackers

Keith O'Quinn
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers

The big name, of course, is Rob Ryan. Once upon a time, he was seen as the savior for the defense,

Five blown fourth quarter leads and three embarrassing losses to divsion rivals later, there are some doubts. In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the big Ryan supporters last summer. But after watching game after game where the defense looked confused and ineffective, I have to wonder if he is the solution I thought he was.

This is where I have to go back to that notorious and hated event known formally as the NFL Lockout of 2011, and in my head as the Great Suckitude. It is still causing problems today. We are left with the question of whether Rob's defense is just totally wrong for the team, or whether he just suffered from not having an off season. And we are not going to know unless we give him another year and a defense heavy draft/free agency signing to find out. I think that, like it or not, we are going to see what RR can do with a full off season to work with.

There is still speculation about Rob getting a head coaching offer. I just don't see what about this season would entice a team to make him their head guy.

That gets us down to the most obvious candidate on the list, Dave Campo. The secondary took a lot of heat this year, and Dave was not the most popular guy on the staff to begin with. If the team does make some changes on the staff (and I think they have to), he seems the first one to go.

Who else seems likely to be leaving Valley Ranch? I don't see anyone that is going to get a big offer from some other team (although I thought I did run across something about Joe DeCamillis getting an interview somewhere, but I can't find it again), so this will be a case of moving people out to make room for some new blood.

Where else on the team is there need for improvement? If you answered anything besides "everywhere", then you haven't been paying attention. While some areas, like the wide receivers, look to be in good shape for next year, most parts of the team have issues looming varying from aging stars that will eventually need backup/replacement to gaping voids that may take multiple drafts to fix.

Some other possible candidates for a pink slip:

Hudson Houck. The team took a huge gamble with the youth movement in front of Tony Romo. Did the offensive line perform as well as could be expected, or did they come up short? Dallas spent three draft picks here last year. One of them was a definite success. The others - well, that is part of the question about Coach Houck.

Brett Maxie. His job title is Secondary/Safeties. That in itself would make me nervous if I were him.

Ben Bloom. Defensive Quality Control? I'm not even sure what that means. I am sure it didn't work too well.

Joe DeCamillis. Blocked punts. Blocked field goals. Lackluster return game. Has he just gotten to the end of his usefulness?

Add in the fact that Dave, Brett and Hudson all are without contracts at the moment, along with Wes Phillips, Keith O'Quinn, and Skip Peete, and I bet some people are not sleeping well.

Part of the issue is that no one knows who is going to be available out there. When head coaches get fired, there are often quality assistants that lose their jobs just as part of the general housecleaning. If Jason can make a good upgrade, he needs to do so, even if it means turning someone loose who was doing an adequate job before. And I am not even getting into the whole offensive coordinator debate.

The problem is, of course, justifying any of the coaching jobs this year as all that adequate.

I don't pretend to have good answers here. I am sure some will disagree with my list, and others will propose different names. But I suspect changes are coming. Soon.

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