Film room: Which potential head coach candidates would be the best fit for Cowboys’ personnel?-John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Which head coaching candidates would fit best with the Cowboys current skill set?
While plucking a coach off the coaching tree of a Bill Belichick or Sean McVay has seen discouraging results, hiring a top assistant from Andy Reid’s coaching tree has proved prosperous in the past.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is the most notable of the bunch, but two other Reid disciples, Ron Rivera and John Harbaugh, also made the Super Bowl after being hired away from Reid’s staff, and Harbaugh appears ready to vie for another Super Bowl this year in Baltimore.
Enter Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, the latest Reid protégé who appears poised for a productive head coaching career. Bienemy -- who has nine years of NFL experience as a running back throughout the 1990s -- is one of the chief (pun intended) offensive architects in Kansas City. And that Kansas City offense would be an excellent fit for the Cowboys’ personnel.
Since becoming offensive coordinator in 2018, the Chiefs’ offense has been electric, finishing first in Offense DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and yards per play (6.7) in 2018 while currently ranked third in each metric this year. The Chiefs boast one of the most creative and innovative schemes out there, and it would be incredibly beneficial for Dallas to bring over some of that Kansas City offensive voodoo.
Regardless of this Sunday’s outcome, the Dallas Cowboys will look like a much different organization after this offseason.
If there is not an extension of the NFL collective bargaining agreement, the Cowboys can use the franchise and transition tags on both players in 2020. If there is a new CBA before March, the Cowboys can use only one designation, and that would likely be the franchise tag on Prescott, which would cost $27 million to $37 million.
The goal, however, is to sign both Prescott and Cooper to multiyear deals. Of course, that was the Cowboys' goal last offseason as well. But what about Byron Jones, the Cowboys' top cornerback? Although he has gone 39 games without an interception, he is a valuable asset because of his cover skills. Team sack leader Robert Quinn, who has 10.5 sacks and will turn 30 years old in May, will likely command more than the Cowboys can afford.
Linebacker Sean Lee has shown that he can still make plays if he is managed properly during the week of practice and in games. He could be a valuable contributor to a defense looking for veteran leadership. Defensive end Michael Bennett has committed too many penalties since his acquisition in a trade, but he can play multiple spots up front. There is a question as to whether Bennett, 34, wants to play another season.
Defensive tackle Maliek Collins is 24, but the thought has been that he will make more money elsewhere, even if he has not had the season some predicted. Folks have wanted to replace safety Jeff Heath the past few years, but the Cowboys' defense has not been the same when he is off the field.
How much blame should the first-year play-caller get?
Of the Cowboys two three-game losing streaks this season the most recent was without question the most frustrating when it comes to Moore and his play-calling abilities. In Week 12 vs the New England Patriots, the Cowboys established Elliott early against the NFL’s top defensive unit. He had 61 yards on 15 carries in the first half. The second half, however, was a completely different story. Moore only called Elliott’s number six times in the final 30 minutes of play. Mind you, the Cowboys were only down 10-6 at halftime. There was no reason to abandon the run that early in a four-point game.
A week later vs the Buffalo Bills saw Elliott get off to a fast start once again. Against a top-three defense, he had 56 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Unfortunately, like the week before, Moore wouldn’t utilize Elliott in the second half. The Cowboy’s workhouse back only had two carries for 15 yards after halftime. Moore instead decided to air it out with Prescott who ended up with 49 pass attempts, a number he should never see with Elliott in the same backfield. Unwise approach from Moore in the second half of this one and the Cowboys eventually lost 26-15.
Jason Garrett and former Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan will match up on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Callahan spoke to reporters from the Dallas-Fort Worth media in a scheduled conference call. He spoke about not only his time under Jason Garrett, who was just in his second full season as head coach when Callahan joined the staff.
“I have a lot of respect for Jason,” Callahan said. “I think he was tremendously well-organized. He was a really good communicator with the players.his messages were always spot-on with the opponents we were playing. He was very demanding as a staff member as to what he wanted. He demanded precision.”
Callahan also had a front-row seat when the Cowboys were building this offensive line. He coached Tyron Smith in his second year and was on the staff that drafted both Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. And he still gets to keep tabs on those guys, even when he’s just watching film for his own team.
Some news on linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and stories of Cowboys Christmas past.
Motivating Fear: Even though the Cowboys have fallen out of first place in the NFC East for the first time since last season, the overwhelming theme this week has been to take care of your own business by beating the 3-12 Redskins, even though they know if the Eagles beat the 4-11 Giants to clinch the division title it won’t matter what they do. But here is definitely what the Cowboys should be most fearful of: Coming out unmotivated and losing to Washington and then the Giants beat the Eagles, who still would win the East at 8-8, a game ahead of the 7-9 Cowboys. How could you sleep at night knowing that had you beaten Washington to finish 8-8, the title would have been yours based on a better division record, 5-1 to 4-2? That would be downright shameful, the last straw in a disappointing season.
Christmas Past: You know, the Cowboys were in a somewhat similar situation Christmas time 1995. At 11-4, they were tied with San Francisco for the top seed in the NFC playoffs, with the 49ers holding the edge based on a 38-20 victory over the Cowboys earlier in the season. The Niners were playing the Falcons on Sunday, Christmas Eve. The Cowboys season finale was Monday, Christmas night against the Cardinals. No matter what the Cowboys would have done, the Niners would have clinched the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs by beating the 8-7 Falcons. Well, as the Cowboys were flying to Phoenix, they found out the 49ers had lost to Atlanta, 28-27, handing the Cowboys a huge Christmas gift. And the Cowboys accepted the present with open arms, soundly defeating the Cardinals, 37-13, on Christmas to claim the No. 1 seed at 12-4, a game better than San Francisco, which they gladly enjoyed on their way to winning Super Bowl XXX. Never say never.