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Coaching Staff Decisions Looming For Dallas Cowboys?

There is churn among the position coaches every year on almost every team across the league. But could the churn in Dallas be a little higher than normal this year?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Since 2013, the Cowboys have had a fairly stable coaching staff, the departure of Bill Callahan, erstwhile Offensive Coordinator, notwithstanding. One reason for that is the stellar 2014 season, after which the Cowboys didn't see much need for change. But that may change this year.

Here's an overview of the current coaching staff, with each coach's tenure with the team indicated behind his name.

Offensive Coaches Defensive Coaches Specialty Coaches
Scott Linehan (2)
Offensive Coordinator
Rod Marinelli (3)
Defensive Coordinator
Rich Bisaccia (3)
Special teams
Gary Brown (3)
Running backs
Jerome Henderson (4)
Keith O'Quinn (6)
Assistant Special Teams
Derek Dooley (3)
Wide receivers
Joe Baker (4)
Mike Woicik (5)
Strength and conditioning
Wade Wilson (9)
Matt Eberflus (5)
Brett Bech (5)
Assistant S&C
Frank Pollack (3)
Offensive line
Leon Lett (5)
Defensive Tackles
Kendall Smith (2)
Assistant S&C
Mike Pope (2)
Tight ends
Ben Bloom (5)
Defensive Ends

If you look at the numbers closely, you'll that the Cowboys have updated their coaching staff in waves.

The first wave coaching changes of the Garrett head coaching era came in 2011, when the Cowboys brought in Rob Ryan as their defensive coordinator. Ryan brought LB Coach Matt Eberflus and Ben Bloom (then defensive quality control) with him, and the Cowboys brought in Leon Lett as an assistant defensive line coach. Garrett also changed out the strength and conditioning coaching, bringing in Mike Woicik, a face very familiar to the Cowboys. Secondary coaches Dave Campo and Brett Maxie managed to hang on for another year before being replaced by Jerome Henderson and Joe Baker. Henderson had previously coached wih Ryan in Cleveland, Baker joined the Cowboys from Tampa.

The second wave came in 2013. The Cowboys brought in the Monte Kiffin/Rod Marinelli duo, with Kiffin handing over the defensive coordinator role to Marinelli the following year. On offense, RB coach Gary Brown, WR coach Derek Dooley, and OL-assitant Frank Pollack were brought in. And even special teams got a new coach in Rich Bisaccia.

The Cowboys would follow up those moves by bringing in Scott Linehan, first as the adventurously titled 'passing game coordinator', then as a full-blown offensive coordinator, and would also add Mike Pope from the Giants as the new tight ends coach.

QB coach Wade Wilson and ST assistant Keith O'Quinn are the only coaches left on the staff from before Garrett became the head coach.

The notion of coaching changes coming in waves, as outlined above, may be nothing more than pure coincidence. But it could also mean that the Cowboys are overdue for a shake-up in their coaching staff, at least for some of the position coaching roles, and especially considering the team's record this year. And for a team that likes to use the word accountability a lot, it'll be interesting to see who'll be held accountable for 2015.

However, any type of decision about accountability and the coaching staff will have to be preceded by an assessment of how much injuries (Tony Romo's in particular) have impacted the team.

  • If Romo's absence and Dez Bryant's injury are the reason why the receiver play has been substandard, then Derek Dooley is likely off the hook.
  • If the Cowboys understand that the backup QB plan was crap to begin with, Wade Wilson might be off the hook.
  • If you're coaching a zone blocking scheme and only have power runners, your blocking is going to look suspect to the untrained eye.
  • If your 1-technique is on IR, and your 3-technique is playing with a bum shoulder, can you really lay the responsibility for the absence of an interior pass rush on the defensive line coach?

Lots of questions for the Cowboys to ponder as they head into the offseason. So here's my question to you: Assuming Linehan and Marinelli stay, which 2015 position coaches do you think will have to go?


I polled my fellow front page writers to get their thoughts.

Rabblerousr calls bunk on my entire introduction.

I'm not worried about any of them, to be honest. I think this staff really likes working together, and they managed to get rid of the bad egg last offseason, when they jettisoned Callahan. It's important to remember that these guys spend about 70 hours a week working closely together; they damn well better get along - such that it's more important that they get along than that they all be super great.

And, after the season they just had, it's not like someone is going to come along and hire Eberfluss as a defensive coordinator.

Dawn Macelli points to the Cowboys' long and disappointing history of backup QBs and wonders if that may necessitate some coaching changes.

Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson may find himself on the chopping block. One of the most critical failures on the part of the coaching staff has been the inability to deliver tolerable results from the back-up passers. The last significant contribution made by a Dallas back-up was Jon Kitna in 2010. Since then, Kyle Orton, Brandon Weeden, and now Matt Cassel have proven to be ineffective at running the offense in Romo's absence. Again, no one in their right mind expects the same results as the starter would achieve, but their efforts have fallen far below the expectations of even a back-up. The most immediate thing that all three share is that the responsibility of coaching them up to an acceptable level fell on Wilson.

Danny Phantom is particularly disappointed with the wide receiver performance.

Coming off a game where we just watched our receivers run incomplete routes, I'd have to question the job Derek Dooley is doing. I had big expectations for Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley this season and I know the loss of Tony Romo influences that greatly, but these guys still have to be able to contribute. If losing Romo makes you essentially invisible, then you're no better than Laurent Robinson and I'm not ready to accept that being the case.

Michael Sisemore feels like the offensive line has not played up to its potential.

I'm a little concerned with Frank Pollack. I believe that the offensive line has been good this year but at various times, they play with bad technique and it has cost them dearly this season. The penalties and sloppy play has been worrisome. I would venture that the only lineman playing at Pro Bowl level is Frederick. La'el Collins is a bright spot this season, but somebody needs to get more from this unit. They have not been the best offensive line in football this season and people need to stop saying they are.

Tom Ryle doesn't like housecleaning, perhaps on principle.

I'm a little like Rabblerousr, and I think this season just had so many things go wrong outside of the assistant coaches' control that it would be imprudent to stage any serious housecleaning. For instance, in Pollack's case, I think the fact the team is trying to man block to suit McFadden rather than the ZBS they are built and have been trained to use predominantly has had an underrated effect on their performance. The assistant coaches had no real role in how that all came about. If there is a case to be made, it would probably be Wilson for the reasons Dawn alludes to, but once again, did he really have any good raw material to work with? His input in who the team signs/retains as backup QB is probably fairly insignificant when Jerry, Stephen, Will, and the Rooster are all involved.

So there you have it.

Which position coaches do you think should start updating their resumes?

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