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Jason Garrett was expected to step in as the head coach and take the Dallas Cowboys to great places. In two and half years as being the head coach he has amassed a record of 21-19 and missed the playoffs in each of the last two years. When you play for Jerry Jones, you had better start winning or you’re going to be looking for another job very soon. What makes it even more frustrating than just missing the playoffs is missing the playoffs with the amount of talent that they have. The Cowboys continually have some very good players on their 53-man roster…so it must be the coach,right?
“This thing (Dallas Cowboys) has been a big disappointment the last couple of years,” Jones said. “We’ve got to start knocking on the door. So there is a lot of resolve and not a lot of patience, and Jason knows that.”
One thing is for sure, nobody will ever be able to accuse Jerry Jones of not clearly defining his feelings.
The typical line that most experts will say about the offense is; The Cowboys offense can only be expected to go as far as quarterback Tony Romo will take them. While that may be the truth, it doesn’t reflect the entire story. Romo signed a six-year $108 million extension to his contract in the offseason. That’s a pretty big vote of confidence from Jerry Jones. I think he is overpaid, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is a very good QB. He passed for 4,903 yards last year, led five comeback victories last season and already owns almost all of the Cowboys passing records. He does need to make better decision and take care of the football better. But his 19 interceptions last season also lie partly with those around him. His receivers ran incorrect routs and he was running for his life more than ever last year. His problems lie with the lack of help that he gets from the other people on his team. One thing that may help Romo out is that Garrett will no longer be calling the plays from the sideline. He will be passing those duties off to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. Callahan never really succeeded anywhere as a head coach, but he is known to be a very good offensive coordinator.
An area of focus for Callahan will have to be improving the much maligned run game. The Cowboys are known for all-time greats like Emmitt Smith and Toney Dorsett. Last year they only averaged 79.1 YPG, that just won’t cut it for the Cowboys. Much of the reason for that belongs to the offensive line. They were absolutely horrible last season at opening up holes for the ground attack. Callahan is not only the coordinator, he also specifically coaches the O-line. He was new last year and the Cowboys hope that in year number two, where the players have more familiarity in the system, things will go better. They also drafted center Travis Frederick in the first round of this years draft. He will likely start from day one.
This season will mark the first under the new defensive scheme. They transitioned from a 3-4 under Rex Ryan to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin. Kiffin’s approach is simplistic, with an emphasis on fundamentals. But don’t mistake simplistic for ineffective, his units are typically among the league leaders for forced turnovers.
The defensive line and linebacker units will see the bulk of the change under the new scheme. Linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will both be moving to end in the 4-3. Both played end in college, so they have some experience, but there will be a learning curve as they transition back to it. The team is hoping that Ware and Spencer will greatly upgrade the D-line (they’re right) and that will allow Sean Lee and Bruce Carter too fill in at linebacker. Both got injured during last seasons campaign, but they are very effective when on the field. Lee plays the middle linebacker position very well, he has great instincts and has the range and speed to drop into coverage.
Anyway you look at it this season marks somewhat of a crossroads for the Cowboys. If they win a postseason game, Garrett will likely stick around and they can continue down the path he sets. If not, the Cowboys are going to have a new head coach who will come in with his own ideas, once again throwing the roster and schemes in a new direction. One of the problems with the NFL is how quickly coaches can lose their jobs. At times it can seem a little unfair and may even cause performance to suffer. When coaches feel they’re constantly on the hot seat, there are things they’re not willing to do because they can’t afford to take any chances. Also, when they do get fired quickly, you have a roster full of players who are expected to constantly adapt to new schemes instead of being able to become comfortable in one system. However, that is the nature of the best in the ultra-competitive NFL.