In over 30 years as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones has earned a reputation as an owner who meddles. Jerry Jones is the most visible owner of the most visible franchise. Jerry Jones has proven with his various radio shows, TV spots, and postgame pressers that he’s as accessible as any owner you will find in pro sports. It can be argued that being the head coach for the Cowboys is unlike any other job in pro football. Most NFL head coaches are the singular voice in the room for their respective franchises but we know the Cowboys don’t operate like that. The Cowboys have a braintrust of Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Will McClay, and their head coach. It’s a committee process with Jerry Jones holding the ultimate tie-breaker. Anyone who has ever been a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization for even a cup of coffee knows they are anything but conventional in their operation.
It takes a certain kind of person to be able to function with all the distractions that come with being a coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Over the years, many fans and media alike have questioned the drawing power of the Cowboys to bring in the best coaches. Surely, most successful championship-caliber coaches have always wielded a big stick and would rather not have to deal with the potential distraction in Dallas. In recent years, pundits have suggested that the Cowboys just might not be that attractive to coaches seeking employment. Well, in the past week, the Cowboys have done a great job is showing us all that this organization is still a premier destination for good coaches. Maybe it’s the challenge, big undertakings often come with big rewards, and maybe that’s what drew Mike McCarthy to Dallas.
The Cowboys wanted experience and they hired McCarthy, a former Super Bowl winning coach, who took his Packers teams to the playoffs in nine of his 13 seasons in Green Bay. McCarthy also appeared in the NFC Championship game four times with the Packers. There wasn’t a more qualified and experienced NFL coaching candidate available than Mike McCarthy.
Jerry Jones said that they wholeheartedly believed that Mike McCarthy should have every right to assemble his own staff but nobody expected this amount of successful recruiting. It looks as though McCarthy will be able to retain Cowboys offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore. Though they will likely lose two highly-respected assistants in running backs coach Gary Brown and offensive line coach Marc Colombo, they have pegged two over-qualified candidates to replace them. Former Dolphins head coach JoePhilbin will inherit arguably the NFL’s most talented offensive line. The Cowboys are also competing with the Rams and the Texas Longhorns to land Stan Drayton to coach the running backs. Drayton has a history with Ezekiel Elliott, having been his coach in Elliott’s Ohio State days.
A talented and youthful defense will get the fundamental coaching they desperately need as shown in all their missed tackles in 2019. Mike Nolan, a former NFL head coach, and most recent linebackers coach for the Saints steps in at defensive coordinator. Nolan’s defenses have a knack for getting takeaways, he’s coached 10 Top-10 defenses in the category. Without question, that's another missing link in the current Cowboys defense. The Cowboys have also recruited the respected Jim Tomsula to coach up the defensive line. Tomsula inherits a Cowboys’ pass rush that has DeMarcus Lawrence’s future locked up and the unit finished 13th in the NFL with 39 sacks this season. Tomsula was also the 49ers head coach in 2015 before coaching the Redskins’ defensive line the past three seasons, his unit finished seventh in sacks in 2019.
Last, but certainly not least, the Cowboys’ special teams will be headed up by longtime Rams coordinator, John Fassel. Only one team was worse than the Cowboys in starting field position than the Cowboys, the Jaguars. The Cowboys average starting position was their own 26-yard line and to make matters worse, they allowed opponents to begin at their own 30 (fifth worst in NFL). Fassel’s special teams units have finished Top-5 in five of his eight seasons with the Rams. He’s an excellent special teams coach and the Cowboys need him to turn this unit around. Fassel’s hiring might be the best move of any of the coaching changes they are making.
When you add up the staff changes that have occurred in just a few days, how can you not feel the excitement? Coaching the Cowboys may not be for everyone, but Mike McCarthy has experience dealing with a historic franchise and a demanding fan base. He has also shown that he can thrive in that atmosphere, winning another for “Title Town” in 2010. The staff that McCarthy is assembling surely know what they are walking into. This is a talented roster that fell far short of expectations in 2019. The Cowboys have now assembled a winning coaching staff to hopefully change their fortunes in 2020. Yes, this job comes with a ton of pressure. Yes, it requires a lot of multi-tasking and the toughest skin, but coaching for the Cowboys is still one of the premier jobs in all of sports.