How the Cowboys Should Handle Their Coaching Situation
Extend Jason Garrett and fire Scott Linehan.
During his time as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett has been the punchline of a lot of jokes from Cowboys fans and NFL fans alike. Often, he has been deserving of the hate he has received. When the Cowboys fell to 3-5, the Garrett hate hits its peak. Cowboys fans were calling for his head, and the rest of the NFL was laughing at him. What happened next, surprised everyone, as Jason Garrett coached his ass off. The Cowboys finished 11-7, including the playoffs, and made it further than anyone could have possibly imagined they would have in mid-October.
The majority of the football world seems to have this idea that Jason Garrett is a lousy football coach and that is far from the truth. Jason Garrett has coached the Cowboys to a losing record in just one of his eight seasons as the full-time head coach. He coached his way through a bout of mediocrity when they went 8-8 for three straight seasons, but in the last five seasons they have had a winning record four times and made the playoffs three times. That's more success than a lot of the league has seen over that period.
The most significant and most justifiable criticism of Jason Garrett during his time as the head coach is his conservative nature. We saw this when he cost the Cowboys a win against the Texans in week five when he decided to punt in overtime instead of going for it on 4th and one on the Texans 40. He seemed to make a point of going for it on every fourth and short after that, including four times against the Rams on Saturday night. Jason Garrett earned and will get an extension this offseason.
Scott Lineman needs to be fired. He needed to be fired last year. Linehan has been the Cowboys play-caller since 2015, and they have had a top ten offense just once. When Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott broke onto the scene in 2016, the Cowboys had the fifth best offense in the NFL. In the following two seasons, teams figured out what the Cowboys were doing on offense and adjusted. Scott Linehan still has not figured that out yet. The Cowboys offense has been progressively getting worse over the past two seasons, ranking 14th in 2017 and 22nd in 2018. He is holding this team back, and he is holding Dak Prescott back.
After the game on Saturday, both Linehan and Jerry Jones refused to address the media, so it seems as though the writing is on the wall for Linehan.
Offensive Line Coach
The Cowboys brought in Paul Alexander, the long-time Bengals offensive line coach this offseason. A heavily criticized move at the time, because Alexander was famous for his power blocking scheme even though Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' offensive line were built to be a zone running team. By, November, Alexander was fired.
Marc Colombo took over his job and did not look back. Colombo's offensive line battled through injuries and significantly improved their play in the second half of the season, particularly in run blocking. The Cowboys should bring Colombo back this offseason.
The Cowboys brought in ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to be the team's defensive backs coach and "passing game coordinator" this offseason, but by the time week one came around, he has essentially assumed all play-calling duties. Rod Marinelli still held his title of defensive coordinator, but it was essentially Richard's job.
Richard did such an incredible job with this defense and the defensive backs this season, that he was looked at as a head coaching candidate for a few teams, but it seems as though he will be returning to Dallas next season.
After the game on Saturday, Marinelli said that he was going to be the team's defensive coordinator next year, but I have to imagine that he gets moved to assistant head coach so that Richard can officially take over the defensive coordinator position with the hopes that the title (and subsequent pay raise) incentivizes him to stay in Dallas.
Special Team Coordinator
The Cowboys lost special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders this past offseason, and boy did they miss him. Keith O'Quinn was promoted to special teams coordinator, and their special teams units were atrocious all season. There is absolutely no reason for O'Quinn should still have a job next season.