Although not definitive yet, it seems likely the Cowboys will begin the search for a new head coach, and the list of potential candidates is a lengthy one. In Part I of this series, with help from my podcast partner in crime, we took a look at three of those candidates:
Mike McCarthy, former Green Bay Packers’ HC
Lincoln Riley, current HC at Oklahoma
Urban Meyer, former HC at Ohio State
Continuing our deep dive into all of the prospective coaches, we’ll look at three more options that could be in play for the Cowboys.
Offensive Coordinator, Baltimore Ravens
Why it makes sense: Greg Roman is one of the league’s best offensive coordinators and what he has done with the Ravens in three seasons is remarkable. It helps when you tap into an amazing talent like QB Lamar Jackson. The Ravens jumped from 13th in 2018 to first in total offense this season. Roman’s strength is in his ability to adapt a game plan tailor-made for his talent and has been excellent with adjustments as well. The Ravens are big subscribers to game analytics and situational football, Roman could really be of help to the Cowboys in both areas. Though the Cowboys offense doesn’t possess a dynamic threat quite like Lamar Jackson, Roman would have little trouble maximizing the talent the Cowboys do have.
Concerns: Can Roman get the locker room to buy in quickly and produce results immediately for an owner that wants to win now? Will Roman be able to handle everything that comes with being the coach of the Dallas Cowboys? Roman has been in the league since 2011 with stops in San Francisco, Buffalo, and now Baltimore. Since coming into the NFL, his offenses have finished well in all but one year where the 49er’s were 25th. Why hasn’t he received an opportunity to be a head coach yet? He’s been a loyal supporter of the Harbaugh family, is he content in his role now?
Tom’s take: Gimme.
Mike McCarthy is probably my favorite former head coach among the prospects for Dallas, and Roman is the best career assistant for the Cowboys. What he has done with the Ravens is just spectacular, and unlike some, I think he would love to use Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard to accomplish some of the same things he has done with Jackson, just in different ways. His track record is just excellent, and shows he can work with different kinds of talents.
Besides, I am a believer in analytics, and want to see what someone can do by really applying them to the talent the Cowboys have. Situational football is also something I think makes far more sense than insisting on going out and doing things your way, basically telegraphing what you are going to do and defying the opponent to stop you.
The concerns with him seem minor, unless he just doesn’t have that leadership aura a head coach needs. That has to be sorted out by the Jones family. If they think he has what it takes, then he would be a very, very good hire.
Asst. Head Coach/Tight Ends, New Orleans Saints
Why it makes sense: Dan Campbell was a former Cowboys TE during the early developmental years with Jason Witten. The Cowboys organization has always been a big fan of his and considered adding him to their coaching staff a few years ago. Campbell has been groomed by Sean Payton and has a few qualities the Cowboys could use right now. Payton taught Campbell the importance of being aggressive on offense without being careless. The Cowboys need to play more aggressively on both sides of the ball. Campbell has developed a pretty explosive two-back attack in New Orleans, which is something the Cowboys would love to do with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. For fans of Kellen Moore and Jon Kitna, it’s quite possible they would stick around as both could fit well with Campbell.
Concerns: As highly regarded as Campbell may be, he’s never had the opportunity to be an offensive coordinator. In 2015, he was named the interim head coach of the Dolphins for a brief period. However, he’s mainly been a tight ends coach during his coaching career. Is he ready to make a huge leap onto the biggest stage of them all? If so, would Campbell be an effective enough leader fix these execution issues and coach Dallas to a deep playoff run?
Tom’s take: Campbell is intriguing. He’s not a flashy, big-name option, but those years marinating with Payton hopefully will have prepared him well. And that interim gig wasn’t really brief - it was for twelve games. You might ask why Miami didn’t give him the full time job. After the Adam Gase experience, they may be thinking the same thing.
I think he deserves a shot at head coach in the league. No one would complain if Payton himself were to be hired in Dallas, so being on his staff has to be a positive. Campbell also checks that familiarity box for Jerry Jones, but is not too close the way Jason Garrett arguably was. He also has Texas roots, which really doesn’t mean anything, but I find it cool. Plus, an Aggie, so I may be a bit less objective.
The one thing I wish I knew better was how well he would stand up for his ideas and himself. To succeed in Dallas, you can’t let Jerry or Stephen just railroad you all the time. A coach may not be able to prevail in all the disagreements with ownership, but rubber stamping doesn’t work, either. One thing Garrett was just remarkable at was handling the Joneses, especially Jerry. If Dan has a bit of that in him, I think he could do good things for the Cowboys.
Head Coach, Baylor Bears
Why it makes sense: Matt Rhule is another hot commodity after he lead the Baylor Bears back to relevance and now are a definite contender in the BIG-12. Baylor is a program that has been somewhat near to the Cowboys’ hearts as they were very friendly with former coach Art Briles. Rhule’s reputation as a coach is that of a motivator and he’s got an offensive background, namely as the Giants’ OL coach in 2012. A team that needs a culture change would be very high on Rhule, you could argue the Cowboys are in need of that change.
Concerns: This isn’t the first time Matt Rhule has been considered for a head coaching gig in the NFL. The Jets interviewed Rhule last offseason but were soured on his demand to bring in his own staff and reshape the front office. Rhule could want more authority than the Cowboys are willing to give to a coach with his lack of NFL experience.
Tom’s take: If you could only hire from the college ranks, Rhule is arguably the best option out there. He walked into an absolute toxic waste dump of a situation at Baylor and has frankly far exceeded what I thought he could do in the time he has been there. That kind of take charge and get things done attitude is my favorite thing about him. That he could do so in the rather insular and literal “holier than thou” atmosphere in Waco is even more impressive.
It’s pretty obvious that being able to deal with that kind of attitude can be a valuable trait when coaching for the Cowboys. And being just down I-35 from Arlington and Frisco may have led to some ties already being established. If Dallas does dip into the college ranks, Rhule could be the cream of the crop.
That’s a wrap for Part II in the search of a new head coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
In the final edition to the series, we will discuss a few more names of interest.