Success comes with a price; for the Dallas Cowboys that means that many of the men involved in building the 12-4 team will start showing up on the radar screens of other franchises hoping to duplicate the success that the Cowboys have experienced this season. Assistant coaches will interview for more influential positions around the league, and for those involved in the business side of the game there will be similar opportunities. In recent weeks there has been much concern that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli might find his was to Florida to join his friend and former boss Lovie Smith. That remains a distinct possibility, but there is a chance the first man to cash in on the team's success will be personnel guru Will McClay.
On Monday the New York Jets fired head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik. Jets owner Woody Johnson has brought in a pair of experienced NFL front-office guys to help him rebuild his team, Ron Wolf and Charlie Casserly. In spite of their experience, it seems that neither man will be tapped to run the New York front office. They are being charged by Johnson with reviewing a plethora of possibilities for both the GM and head coaching vacancies. Will McClay is being touted as a candidate for the GM spot..
McClay has played a significant role in the revitalization that we have seen in Dallas. Most notable in his tenure is the rebuilding of the "Great Wall of Dallas". The past few seasons have witnessed an investment of first-round draft picks in offensive lineman that is unprecedented in Cowboys history. It was that investment that has allowed DeMarco Murray to become the holder of the Cowboys all-time single-season rushing record, and it was that investment that has protected quarterback Tony Romo while he guided the Dallas offense to a very successful season.
With the Jets finding themselves in similar straits to where the Cowboys were the past few seasons, it would be a logical move for them to look toward McClay in the hope that he could work his magic a second time. Reports surfaced on Sunday that McClay was someone the brain-trust in New York hoped to interview for the vacancy. No one in the Jets organization has reached out to Dallas yet to inquire about holding such an interview, but the Cowboys know that even if it is not the Jets, eventually somebody around the league is going to want McClay as their GM.
Having talent move on to bigger and hopefully better things is a fact of life in the National Football League. Teams can ill afford to deny other franchises the opportunity to speak with their coaches and front-office people because that will make it harder, if not impossible, for them to bring in fresh blood themselves. While Jerry Jones would hate to lose Will McClay, he understands the issue.
"...that's what success does, always does, it creates a lot of opportunities in a lot of different ways for a lot of people. [We've] obviously, have been for years, sold on him and appreciate the job he has done and he's doing." - Jerry Jones
Eventually someone around the league is going to give Will McClay a shot at running their front office. In doing so they will get a first-rate personnel man who also is well acquainted with the game as both a player and as a coach (McClay played several seasons in the Arena Football League and also served as the head coach of the Dallas Desperados in that league). Unless Jerry Jones reverses himself dramatically, that chance will not come in Dallas. The best that we can hope for is that the processes he put in place for the Cowboys continue to bear fruit and that McClay goes on to experience success throughout his career, hopefully almost as much as the Cowboys experience.