The Dallas Cowboys are seeing real shakeup among their coaching staff as many assistants will not return for 2018. With Rich Bisaccia taking a new gig with the Raiders, Derek Dooley headed back to the collegiate level, Steve Loney retiring, and guys like Wade Wilson and Joe Baker moving on, there will be new faces roaming the sidelines.
As the old adage goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As true as it is that there will be changes, the three top positions of head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator don’t look to be changing. What that’s saying is that the Joneses will double-down on their belief in the nucleus of the coaching staff.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing as Jason Garrett is one 9-7 season removed from Coach of the Year honors. Also, Rod Marinelli saw plenty of positive returns from his defense. The one question is with Scott Linehan, who had just about every facet of his offense struggle and that lead to some steady declines.
The Cowboys’ brass is showing that they are going to turn it all over to Scott Linehan to fix his problems. We’ll see how that unfolds as the offseason goes along but their disappointing season doesn’t just fall at the feet of Linehan. It’s going to be important for the Cowboys to get a little aggressive in the offseason to fix some of their problems.
For example, it starts with the coaching hires that will be done, there are plenty of decent coaches without a job. It will be imperative that the Cowboys find a quarterback coach that can work to help Dak Prescott improve after a slight regression in his second year. They will also need a wide receivers coach that will need to do the same for a receiving corps that took a massive step backwards.
This staff gets a lot of criticism for their stubbornness at times but the hope is that they can see their problems are very real. They are not simply just a product of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension. The offense, in particular, could use a huge shot of creativity. For instance, teams learned quickly that taking away Cole Beasley was extremely detrimental to Prescott and this offense. As far as coaching changes, they need to be aggressive in finding some guys that can inject some innovation into the room.
Being aggressive doesn’t just start and end with hiring assistant coaches. Now that it’s a foregone conclusion Will McClay will be kept around, acquiring talent will be at the top of the list. There are talented players on this team but they’re only as good as the support they have around them. We saw that when Tyron Smith was out, they didn’t have much in the way of a viable backup and it crushed their abilities to get any type of momentum.
One of the well-known philosophies of this front office under Stephen Jones and McClay is their hesitation to get active in free agency. Stephen has said multiple times you don’t want to get into the habit of paying good players like they’re great and certainly not paying average players like they’re good. Still, in so many ways, you get what you pay for and the Cowboys’ have found some contributors but they have also struck out too.
In 2017, plenty of free-agent signings blew up in their face, whether it was reasons in or out of their control. They pride themselves of finding Jeremy Mincey’s or Terrell McClain’s but for every one of those, they also have guys like Nolan Carroll and Cedric Thornton. Even re-signing Terrance Williams is not looking all that great after his 2017 performance. Free agency isn’t the best avenue of adding talent but it can be helpful when there is someone out there that can really improve your team.
The NFL Draft is all the craze but it takes rookies time to acclimate themselves to the professional game. The Cowboys saw this when they drafted their rookie defensive backs. It paid off at the end of the season but imagine if Carroll played well enough to not be cut during their bye week. Could it have been the difference in one more win? It’s possible. If the Cowboys are going to get better they need a little balance which means they have to improve in the Pro Personnel department as well.
The fact that the Cowboys went through all that they did in one season and only came one game short of the playoffs is in many ways impressive. With that said, the hope is that the guys that make the decisions are not going to sit on their hands. They still have very apparent needs at wide receiver, linebacker, safety, and offensive line.
If the Cowboys want to kick that door down to re-enter the NFC heavyweight’s room, they will have to make a few changes to their approach. Add some speed to the receiving corps, get another playmaker on defense, find an innovative coach with energy, just do something. Everyone from the coaches, scouts, or executives must find ways to accentuate their strengths and fix their deficiencies. Fortune favors the bold and though we’ve seen a more conservative front office of late, maybe a little aggressiveness is needed this offseason.