Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys coaches

THE NFL’S GURU OF COACHES: Jason Witten appreciates the honesty of tight ends coach Mike Pope | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

THE NFL’S GURU OF COACHES: Jason Witten appreciates the honesty of tight ends coach Mike Pope | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

New tight ends coach Mike Pope is “nit-picking” with him, but Jason Witten said it’s for his own good.

“He’s been honest with me in trying to really push me to ‘Let’s even take this to another level,’ ” Witten said of his new coach, a 32-year veteran NFL assistant who started with the Giants under Bill Parcells in 1983 and was on the staff of all four of the franchise’s Super Bowl championship teams.

“I appreciate that challenge and the way he’s gone about it,” Witten said. “I know he’s kind of the guru of tight end coaches.”

THE NFL’S GURU OF COACHES - Jason Witten appreciates the honesty of tight ends coach Mike Pope - 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

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ROD MARINELLI WANTS YOU: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator helps land free agent Henry Melton

ROD MARINELLI WANTS YOU - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator helps land free agent Henry Melton - Uncle Sam Wants You

IRVING, Texas – In Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys believe they have one of the best coaches in the NFL.

It appears he might be a pretty good recruiter, too.

The Cowboys’ ability to land free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton was a lot about the contract, a lot about Melton possibly wanting to play at home, and a lot about Marinelli.

“I’m excited to come back home and work with Rod [Marinelli] and get back to my Pro Bowl form,” Melton told Calvin Watkins.

Melton developed into a Pro Bowl defensive tackle under Marinelli with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12. Melton had 15.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl after a six-sack season in 2012. He also had 71 tackles and nine tackles for loss with Marinelli as his mentor.

He might talk softly, but Marinelli has a way of forging relationships with defensive linemen. He did it with Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did it with Melton and Julius Peppers with the Bears. He did it with Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware with the Cowboys.

ROD MARINELLI WANTS YOU - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator helps land free agent Henry Melton - Walking off football field

The Cowboys were forced to use 20 defensive linemen in 2013 and were one game away from making the playoffs. Marinelli was able to make it work to a certain degree with guys such as George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Jarius Wynn, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse

He never had Jay Ratliff or Tyrone Crawford. He had Anthony Spencer for 34 snaps in one game. He was without Ware for three games and Hatcher for one.

Melton becomes the third defensive linemen to join the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent. Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain signed with the Cowboys last week.

Mincey was coached with the Jacksonville Jaguars by Joe Cullen, who coached under Marinelli with the Detroit Lions.

“Genuine and a believer,” Mincey said last week. “He believes in what I believe: Going out there and giving your all and trusting the process and seeing what happens. You never know what’s going to happen, especially with a bunch of guys who are hungry, who are dedicated and motivated for a larger purpose.”

The job is not over. The Dallas Cowboys concluded a visit with Jared Allen today and the veteran could be the next one added to the Marinelli mix.

POINT AND COUNTERPOINT: DC Marinelli vs. OC Linehan – Debating which coaching change will impact the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys the most

POINT AND COUNTERPOINT - DC Marinelli vs. OC Linehan – Debating which coaching change will impact the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys the most - The Boys Are Back website

IRVING, Texas – For some, it can still be an issue deciphering the specific roles of each coach after the various offseason changes, but it’s no issue picking out the most impactful move.

That is, without question, the move to make Rod Marinelli the defensive coordinator.

Dallas Cowboys officials can say whatever they want about Monte Kiffin’s new position by adding the title of assistant head coach, but the reality is Marinelli’s now in charge of the defense. It’s a switch that should help change the course of next season more significantly than any other coaching move.

For starters, Marinelli won’t need to do much to at least improve the defense from where it was at last year as the NFL’s worst total defense, allowing 415 yards per game. No other NFL team allowed even 400 yards per game.

In addition to earning the unwavering faith of all the many linemen who cycled in through Dallas last season, Marinelli also experienced recent success as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.

The Bears finished as the No. 5 total defense in Marinelli’s final season as the defensive coordinator for Chicago in 2012. Throughout Marinelli’s tenure, that defense had a penchant for pressure and takeaways. The Bears ranked in the top 10 in sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles in Marinelli’s final season as coordinator.

Since arriving as the defensive line coach last season, he’s preached the importance of finishing. A sack is not enough to Marinelli. He wants the ball to pop out and for his linemen to be athletic enough to take that to the house. He’ll now get to preach the same objective to a wider audience on defense.

The Bears led the league with 24 interceptions in his final season in Chicago, returning eight of them for touchdowns. Chicago also ranked in the top 10 in total defense two out of three times during Marinelli’s three years as coordinator.

Now, this is a different team he’s dealing with. His personnel in Chicago undoubtedly played a role in those numbers. But Marinelli’s recent past gives reason to believe this defense has a better chance to succeed under his tutelage, and no one would have scoffed had this changed been made last season. Any marginal change will be an improvement from finishing last in the league, but he gives the Cowboys the potential to be better than just “not the worst.”

On the other side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys realigned a coach (Bill Callahan) who’s now still on the staff and part of the game-planning process on offense while adding to the mix a new play-caller (Scott Linehan) and voice for the offense with new terminology.

Last year, owner/general manager Jerry Jones said it was his intention for Jason Garrett to be significantly less involved on offense before circumstances changed the original plan. Will that happen again if the offense is out of sync early on as it adjusts to Scott Linehan’s offense?

The decision to make Marinelli the defensive coordinator is the major move everyone was waiting for, and it’s the move that will make the most impact among the various changes that occurred to the coaching staff this offseason.


POINT AND COUNTERPOINT - DC Marinelli vs. OC Linehan – Debating which coaching change will impact the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys the most - The Boys Are Back website 2

It makes sense for the focus of this offseason to rest squarely on the Dallas Cowboys defense.

We’re talking about a unit that finished last in the NFL and was the worst in franchise history. The Cowboys surrendered 500 and 600 yard days, 40 and 50-point totals and first downs galore in 2013; in 2014, they changed their defensive coordinator from Monte Kiffin to Rod Marinelli.

All eyes will be on how the defense improves, and it will certainly have to if the Dallas Cowboys are going to compete for anything meaningful. For the money, though, the real improvement comes on offense, which is also under new management in the form of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

The story is well-known by now: Jason Garrett brought in an old colleague in Linehan – someone with similar offensive philosophies to himself – to oversee the passing game and manage play calling duties in place of Bill Callahan.

Both Marinelli and Linehan have had their share of success at these positions before. Chicago led the league in turnovers and finished fifth in total defense under Marinelli’s supervision in 2012. With Linehan serving as offensive coordinator, Detroit finished sixth, third and fifth in total offense in the past three seasons.

Take a look at who each coordinator is working with for your answer about which unit will look better in 2014. The defense could possibly lose Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, and there is the ever-present question about whether DeMarcus Ware returns – or how well he’ll play if he does. The secondary remains a question mark, particularly at safety, and the linebacker corps appears unsettled – its lone constant, Sean Lee, is once again returning from injury.

Yes, it’s likely that Marinelli will have some new draft picks to work with, and there’s no telling what free agency could bring. As much as that might help, though, any rookie contributions would have to be substantial to bolster the Dallas Cowboys standing that much.

Meanwhile, this Dallas offense – which finished a surprisingly mediocre 16th in total offense – returns four of the team’s five Pro Bowlers from 2013. The Cowboys have 2013 Pro Bowlers at wide receiver, left tackle, tight end, and running back. Although not an award winner last season, Tony Romo has a few accolades of his own.

Everyone knows the gaudy numbers Linehan was able to put up with Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford in Detroit, and that can only benefit Romo and Dez Bryant. Similarly, it should open up opportunities for Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, and even Cole Beasley to get more involved.

And take a look at the Lions’ 2013 rushing totals before you worry about DeMarco Murray’s production. Murray is coming off his first 1,000 yard season and his first Pro Bowl nod, and the Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly want to continue that momentum.

Fortunately, 2013 saw Reggie Bush manage just the second 1,000-yard season of his career under Linehan in Detroit. The Lions offense also produced a 650-yard, eight-touchdown effort from backup Joique Bell. The two backs weren’t exactly slouches in the passing game, either. Bell caught 53 balls for 547 yards, while Bush nabbed 54 for 506.

The Dallas Cowboys managed basically no production from the running backs behind Murray. If you’re a fan of Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle, the addition of Linehan can only mean good things.

None of that accounts for an offensive line that may finally be considered a strength of this team. Anchored by Tyron Smith and bolstered by the addition of Travis Frederick, the Dallas offensive line caught fire in the second half of 2013.

So it’s not as if I think Linehan is a better coach than Marinelli, and I’m also not saying Marinelli can’t improve this defense. I don’t think there’s any argument Linehan has more to work with, though, and that should show when the offense returns to its more explosive ways.

COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: Jason Garrett’s focus shifting as Scott Linehan takes the offensive reins

COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS - Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s focus shifting as Scott Linehan takes the offensive reins

INDIANAPOLIS – Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett will unquestionably have less input on offense this year, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones.

Jones said (Watch Video | Play Audio) that was the design last year as well, but it didn’t end up working out as originally planned. The addition of Scott Linehan now means a new offense with new terminology and ideas, allowing Garrett to actually have more of a focus on defense than offense.

As Jones put it, Garrett “won’t have the last pencil down this year” the way he had last year when it comes to the offense.

“He’ll have a lot more time spent on defense than he will on offense,” Jones said. “We want his input on defense.”

Jones said he wants Garrett to work with the defensive staff and use his offensive mind to show how he’d attack a defensive plan.

“His focus on the defense I think is going to make a big difference,” Jones said. “You’ve got Linehan’s head coaching experience, you’ve got Bill (Callahan) with head coaching experience, you’ve got (Derek) Dooley with head coaching experience, you’ve got some great experience.

“And we have the need to see if there are aspects of what we can do offensively that are different than what we’ve been doing over the last six years. We have that need and we’re going to get it. We’re going to get that without throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Jones reiterated that Linehan will come in with “completely real change” on offense, including different terminology with his scheme.

“He’s got a track record of really zeroing in and building the offense around the talent, the specific talent and qualities of the players,” Jones said. “(Tony) Romo has certain skills and talents and abilities and has very unique mental capabilities on the field. He’ll make it go.”

Jones said Garrett, who coached with Scott Linehan in Miami, has enough confidence in what the new play-caller can bring that he’s willing to step further back and essentially hand over the offensive duties.

But he wasn’t going to pass up on adding Linehan when that opportunity presented itself.

Jones said Tony Romo had “serious discussions” with Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford about Linehan and now has a great feel for Linehan’s imagination and what Linehan can do to maximize players’ skills while bringing flexibility in the scheme within the parameters of the offense.  

He said Romo and Linehan will be locked at the hip and that the most excited person in the Cowboys’ organization about the addition of Linehan was Romo, who will still have a great deal of power within the offense.

“Romo was a tremendous supporter of Bill Callahan, but was absolutely ecstatic over us getting Linehan,” Jones said.

Jones believes Garrett’s learned a great deal and is more season and knowledgeable as a coach after years with the team, but doesn’t mind the idea of having a “lame duck coach.” He said he thinks people can sometimes work stronger without knowing their future and that Garrett has a “high tolerance for ambiguity.”

Even without an extension before the year, though, Jones said the plan is for Garrett to be the coach beyond this upcoming season.

Entering his last year of his deal, Garrett has to hope the changes made pay off quickly. Jones said he believes having the experience of multiple coaches on staff who were once head coaches should benefit Garrett. He said it’s a big deal for Garrett’s future that he gets the experience of working with the coaches around him.

“You know that every time he looks in his players’ eyes that most of those guys right there if they have a bad year or mess up or take an injury, that that’s there year, too,” Jones said. “We are dealing with those kinds of what ifs. But this is the one I’m comfortable with – the status we are in right now with our staff. I like our staff. Jason should know, and I know that he knows, that the plan here has been for him to be long-term, and long-term certainly being beyond this year, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys.”


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Jerry Jones: Jason Garrett’s focus to shift

Jerry Jones spoke about why Jason Garret’s primary focus will be on the defensive side of the ball this season, and what makes him capable to take on that role.

NEW TWIST ON TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Rod Marinelli excited about his new role as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator

NEW TWIST ON TEXAS-2 DEFENSE - Rod Marinelli excited about his new role as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator - The Boys Are Back website 2014

INDIANAPOLISRod Marinelli finds himself back in a similar spot, just with a different team.

The former Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach is now also the defensive coordinator. It’s a change he’s both familiar with and excited about, going back to the role same role he had in his previous stop in Chicago.

“I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s all football,” Marinelli said. “I’m excited about the whole thing.”

The promotion for Marinelli, who’s now in charge of the whole defense, likely means an increased role for assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett. Marinelli said he feels like Lett has grown tremendously in their year together, and he believes both Lett and Ben Bloom’s help on the line will alleviate his workload.

He also said a year under his belt in Dallas will help “big time” as he prepares for his new role.

“You’ve kind of got things in place, I think, for the most part,” Marinelli said. “Now you’ve just got to make corrections and add some people and kind of go from there.”

The first place he said he’ll look for help is on the front seven. Given that the Dallas Cowboys probably won’t have much room to add key pieces via free agency given their cap situation, it’s likely Marinelli will look to the NFL Draft to try to get that done.

“We’ve always got to look at the front seven, that kind of drives the whole thing for us,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to add some pieces. I like some of the guys still that were injured last year, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass, some of these other guys.”

Crawford figured to be a key piece in the defensive line rotation last year, but he ended up being the first casualty of camp and the first in a snowball effect of defensive linemen going down the rest of the year.

Marinelli said he has to see how Crawford moves coming off his injury before deciding what position the defensive lineman will play, but he still thinks Crawford has the ability to move inside or outside. It wasn’t long after Crawford’s injury that the Cowboys found out they’d lose both Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff the rest of the year, forcing them to cycle new linemen on and off the team.

The new defensive coordinator said he tries to look at the positive of every situation, even when it’s not always apparent.

“You have a chance to maybe really become a better teacher through the season,” Marinelli said. “It forces you to really be on the details every week, because you miss things. It’s easy to miss something when you get a guy in on Tuesday and you’ve got to get him ready for Sunday, how to condense your menu, all those things. I kind of looked at that as a positive, and I think we found a couple guys that might be able to help us continually, like George Selvie and Nick Hayden and some of those guys.”

While his focus was on the defensive line, Marinelli still had a chance to speak to and coach other players throughout the season. He said he loves talking to and teaching players, regardless of position, which should help him as he prepares for his more expansive role.

But Marinelli said mentor Monte Kiffin will still be around, helping every step of the way.

“He’ll be in there every day with us, film, working, drills, all of those things,” Marinelli said. “He’s a tremendous resource and a great coach. I’ve got great respect for him.”

It’s important to Marinelli that he’s as detailed and exact as possible in what he’s teaching over and over again to ensure his players know what he demands. When he looks back to last year’s struggles, he said it’s all about the coach and player relationship and execution, and that everyone’s involved in the team’s success, or lack thereof. 

He said another year with the roster and adding more pieces will help the defense. The Cowboys likely won’t be major players in free agency this year, but Marinelli still believes management will bring in enough pieces. He said he’s not concerned with the cap, and he’s more concerned with improving whatever he’s got.

“With me, it all goes back to fundamentals,” he said. “That’s kind of always been my base, and just getting guys to do things right and coaches got to work extremely hard. You’ve got to get more takeaways, those types of things.”

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Jason Garrett on new roles throughout his coaching staff | Stephen Jones on why team retained Bill Callahan

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER - Jason Garrett on new roles throughout his coaching staff - The Boys Are Back blog 2014

INDIANAPOLIS – Head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t expect discourse among coaches, nor does he worry about having too many voices offensively after the various changes this offseason. 

Garrett spoke at length today (Watch Video | Play Audio) at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine about the new roles throughout his coaching staff, and he said he values the input each coach can bring.

“We feel really good about that,” Garrett said. “We believe in having good coaches. We have a philosophy on offense, we have a philosophy on defense we believe in. We have good coaches to implement that. We expect them all to work together like we have. We emphasize team so much with our players, it’s the same thing with our coaches. If you have the right kind of guys, they will certainly do that.”

Bill Callahan was stripped of the play-calling duties and will move back to his original role with the team, helping out with the offensive game-plan and coaching the offensive line. The Cowboys made room for Scott Linehan, who will call the plays and move into a role similar to Garrett’s before delegating the play-calling duties last year.

Garrett said the circumstances aren’t much different from how the Cowboys or other teams have operated in the past.

“Scott’s role will probably be very similar to the role I had for a number of years – passing game coordinator, play caller, working with the run game coordinator and offensive line coach,” Garrett said. “It’s been Tony Sparano. It’s been Hudson Houck. It’s been Bill Callahan.

“The situation on offense will be probably very similar to the first year Bill Callahan was here. It’s very conventional and something our guys understand.”

Callahan wasn’t let go, despite other teams’ interest in him as an offensive coordinator and play-caller. Garrett said he values what Callahan can bring as a football coach and said he’s as good a coach as he’s been around. Callahan will move back to working more closely with assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack.

Garrett said every decision is made in the best interest of the team and that everyone understands that. Callahan’s coached the offensive line for most of his career, and he thinks that’s a great role for him working alongside assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack.

“We’re going to back to the structure that Bill was comfortable with originally when he was hired,” Garrett said. “That’s just something we all have to embrace. It’s going to take a little time to work through that and that’s what this offseason is for. You work through the things we did well last year, the things we’ve got to improve upon and everybody has their role and the responsibility to embrace it and try to become a really close staff and a really close football team.”

The addition of Linehan gave Garrett a coach he was familiar with from their time together in Miami in 2005. Garrett said he learned a great deal from Linehan during that time and that the two share a similar offensive philosophy. In addition to his role as play-caller and passing game coordinator, Linehan will also be asked to work with Callahan and the rest of the offensive staff in putting the running game and the whole package together in preparation.

“His quarterbacks have always played well,” Garrett said. “He’s had teams where his runners…They’ve been a top five rushing team. He seems to always get a big-play receiver to play very well for him. So we feel like philosophically we are on the same page. We’ve worked together. I understand what he’s trying to get accomplished, how he works day to day, how he calls a game. So for a lot of reasons, we felt this was a really good fit for us.”

It doesn’t sound like the roles will evolve much throughout the year. Garrett said he expects the transition from Monte Kiffin to Rod Marinelli to be a smooth one, given their shared philosophies, and he believes he has the right people in the building on the coaching staff.

“We feel like we have a good idea of what we want to do. we have outlined those by title and by responsibility. We have a clear idea of that. Guys are working together throughout the spring, implementing the plan is an important thing for us. We are in midst of that plan right  now.

Here are some other notes Garrett touched on Thursday in Indianapolis.

  • Garrett still anticipates Tony Romo to be ready for the spring and be involved in “a lot of the stuff we do in the spring with OTAs and on field work.” He said Romo looks good in his rehab.
  • Most of Tony Romo’s energy and attention has gone into rehabbing his back, according to Garrett, but Romo has met with Linehan and had conversations about the season. Linehan’s spending more of his time getting acclimated with the coaches.
  • The future of Jason Hatcher remains in the balance, but Garrett’s not giving up hope in getting the defensive lineman back next year. He praised the work Hatcher did last season and said when NFL free agency starts, he wants the Cowboys to be there for him.
  • Garrett raved about the addition of Mike Pope as the tight ends coach and said he’s as good a coach he’s been around in his career after spending time with him in New York. He also said Jason Witten’s excited about the addition.
  • The head coach reiterated that he was happy with the team’s decision to move back in the first round and believes every one of their 2013 draft picks has a bright future with the team.
  • Linehan also favored the pass in his previous stops, but Garrett said Linehan’s also been around teams that have run well, particularly in Minnesota. He said the offense is stronger up front and the Cowboys have to play to that advantage, giving the team a chance to control the line of scrimmage.


RELATED: Cowboys VP Stephen Jones explains why team retained Bill Callahan

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER - Stephen Jones on why team retained Bill Callahan - The Boys Are Back website 2014

INDIANAPOLIS — When it was announced that Scott Linehan would be the new offensive play-caller last month, many wondered how Bill Callahan would take the news.

After all, this past season Callahan had handled the role Linehan would now assume. Outsiders saw the move as a demotion, and some wondered why the Cowboys were reluctant to allow Callahan to pursue other opportunities. Requests made by Baltimore and Cleveland to interview Callahan were denied.

“Everybody thinks the world of Bill,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “It’s an unfortunate situation that he gets caught up in the, well, he got something taken away from him or whatever it’s going to be portrayed as. But Bill Callahan is an unbelievable football coach. We just weren’t going to give him up and Jerry [Jones] and I have a great relationship and the coaches have a great relationship with him.

“Everybody wants to go sometimes and try to do what they were doing or whatever. But when we signed him, contracts are two-way streets. They are not just for us to deal with if it doesn’t work out. And Bill is a professional;. Are you kidding me? He is working his butt off. Was he disappointed? Everybody has disappointments. I have had it. I’m sure you have had disappointments. Everybody has them.”

Jones views Callahan as an asset who helped transform the offensive line — the position group he oversees — from a weakness into a strength.

“That offensive line really shaped up and came our way,” he said.

Jones now feels similarly about the staff head coach Jason Garrett has assembled, which now features three men — Garrett, Linehan and Callahan — who have been play-callers in the NFL.

“As I think Jason used the words, I think you have to make sure everybody is in the right seat on the bus to really make the team hum,” Jones said. “I think that’s what we ended up doing. I think we got everyone in the right seat. And obviously added a big one in Linehan. But I really think we have given ourselves, with our staff, a great opportunity to improve.”

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Keith O’Quinn promoted to assistant special teams coach | Coaching assistants Turner West and Kyle Valero added to staff

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER - Keith O'Quinn promoted to assistant special teams coach - The Boys Are Back website 2014

The Dallas Cowboys are adding Turner West and Kyle Valero to the staff as coaching assistants and are moving Keith O’Quinn (pictured) from offensive quality assistant/assistant wide receivers coach to assistant special teams coach.

West is a former graduate assistant at Middle Tennessee State.

Valero was an offensive assistant with the Detroit Lions last year under then offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who is now the passing game coordinator in Dallas. Valero will have a similar role in Dallas under Scott Linehan and help with the wide receivers in place O’Quinn.

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER - Dallas Cowboys assistant special teams coach Keith O'Quinn - The Boys Are Back website 2014

O’Quinn came to Dallas in 2006 as a pro scout. He left in 2009 to become director of Pro Personnel with the Cleveland Browns before returning to the Cowboys in 2010 as a quality control coach. He has worked with the receivers the past three years as an offensive assistant.

O’Quinn replaces Chris Boniol as the assistant special teams coach under special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.


RIDING INTO THE SUNSET: Dallas Cowboys Special Teams assistant coach Chris Boniol moving on

ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL: What it will take for your 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys to reach Super Bowl XLIX

ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Glendale AZ

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 18 years. The NFL’s parity driven league allows most franchises to feel like they’re close to the mountain top. After three consecutive .500 seasons, what would it take for the Cowboys to make it to next year’s Super Bowl? Photo: Tom Fox/DMN


Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee prepares to catch the ball during afternoon practice at Dallas Cowboys training camp - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

1.) Stay healthy. Injuries to Sean Lee, Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, and Tyrone Crawford greatly reduced the level of talent on the Dallas Cowboys defense. If Dallas can avoid those significant injuries, the defense should be an improved unit in its second year in the Texas-2 scheme.


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft war room

2.) Draft well. With little salary cap space, the NFL Draft will be the best way for the Dallas Cowboys to improve their roster. Gain a quality pass rusher and a playmaking safety this year and the defense should bounce back. Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff changes

3.) Smooth coaching transition. The new job titles held by Rod Marinelli and Monte Kiffin shouldn’t be a significant adjustment, but how Scott Linehan, Bill Callahan, and Jason Garrett operate on offense will be interesting to watch. If all three work well together, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense could be in for a big year. Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray

4.) Run more often. Callahan didn’t run the ball enough last season and Linehan has a history of calling a pass-heavy offense. The Dallas Cowboys need to average more rushing attempts per game. Photo: G.J. McCarthy/DMN


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys defense must improve

5.) Improve defensively. The Dallas Cowboys finished last in the league, allowing 415.3 yards per game. This group needs to get back to being a Top 15 unit. A second-year in the 4-3 scheme should help. Photo: Louis DeLuca/DMN


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar

6.) Improve depth. One of the Dallas Cowboys biggest problems has been a lack of roster depth. To be a contender in 2014-2015, Dallas needs major contributions from players like Gavin Escobar (pictured), B.W. Webb, J.J. Wilcox, and Kyle Wilber. The Cowboys also need to add a few key reserves in the middle rounds of the draft. Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - All NFL teams hope for a little luck

7.) A little luck. Every team needs a few breaks. A few fortunate bounces could be the difference between going 8-8 and 10-6. Photo: Tom Fox/DMN


dallas cowboys cb morris claiborne scores on a 50 yard fumble recovery vs philadelphia eagles - the boys are back blog

8.) Fit the Players. Bruce Carter, Morris Claiborne, and Brandon Carr struggled at times transitioning into Monte Kiffin’s scheme. Dallas Cowboys defensive coaches need to modify the scheme to make sure these players bounce back and succeed.


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys coaching must continue to improve

9.) Coaching improvement. Jason Garrett continues to improve as the Dallas Cowboys head coach. With the recent restructuring, 2014-2015 needs to be the year that all of his experiences pay off. Photo: G.J. McCarthy/DMN


ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL - What the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys need to reach Super Bowl XLIX - Dallas Cowboys distractions and drama

10.) Minimize distractions/drama. Josh Brent (pictured during his trial), Jeremiah Jay Ratliff, and a younger Dez Bryant have all had off the field issues over the past few years. It’s easier to perform well on the field when there aren’t any distractions off of it. Photo: Ron Baselice/DMN

VALLEY RANCH RESTRUCTURED: Expect Dallas Cowboys coaching changes to bring aggressive, attacking style on both sides of the ball

Here’s what to expect from the 2014 restructuring of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff:

VALLEY RANCH RESTRUCTURED: Expect Dallas Cowboys coaching changes to bring aggressive, attacking style on both sides of the ball - Ben Bass

The differences with Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator

Many so-called experts believed that the switch to this 4-3 defense was going to be good for all the pieces that Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett had on this roster.

Nothing against George Selvie, Nick Hayden and what appeared to be the cast of thousands that played along the defensive line this past season. They were not what these defensive coaches believed they had before they went to Oxnard. Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett were outstanding in what they were able to do with the group that Jones and Will McClay assembled.

What you will see from Marinelli that you didn’t see from Monte Kiffin is playing more to the strengths of your personnel. Marinelli and the other coaches were not going to step on the toes of Kiffin and what he wanted to do scheme wise, that just was not their style.

You will see a more aggressive approach from Marinelli when it comes to attacking offenses. His defenses while he was with the Bears, were this way. His front seven played a huge role in how he called the game. You will still see some two deep schemes but you will see even more of the single high packages that they went to in the second half of the season in Dallas. Kiffin was more willing to sit there and play sound than he was to come after an offense. This is where Rod Marinelli was be totally different.

VALLEY RANCH RESTRUCTURED: Expect Dallas Cowboys coaching changes to bring aggressive, attacking style on both sides of the ball - Lance Dunbar

Changes with Scott Linehan as the new offensive play caller

The hiring of Scott Linehan as the offensive player caller for the Dallas Cowboys did catch many by surprise. Once Jason Garrett came out after the bye week and said that he would be the coach relaying the play call to Tony Romo, it signaled the end of Bill Callahan in that role.

At that point, some believed Garrett was coaching for his job and by taking over that role, he was trying to save it. 

What Linehan can bring to the table is a scheme that will get Dez Bryant even more involved in the offense. During his NFL career, Linehan has made it a point to make the “X” receiver the focus of the passing game. We all witnessed firsthand what Calvin Johnson was able to accomplish with Linehan as the play caller.

What Garrett and Callahan were able to do later last season was move Bryant around to create some matchup opportunities which Linehan should build on. There were times during the Lions games where you observed Johnson playing out of the slot and with effectiveness.

We should also appreciate what Linehan was able to do with Reggie Bush in the backfield. There were creative ideas of where to line him up and how to get him the ball in space. That’s not to say that Lance Dunbar is Reggie Bush but the thought of what he can do with a loose-play running back is inviting.

Scott Linehan has moved the ball wherever he has coached and with this offense at key positions, he should once again have that opportunity. 

COACHES REALIGNED AND DEFINED: Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett provides insight into 2014 coaching changes

COACHES REALIGNED AND DEFINED - Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett provides insight into 2014 coaching changes - The Boys Are Back 2014

IRVING, Texas – So the Dallas Cowboys will make major staff changes after all, especially on defense.

Through a press release sent last night, the Cowboys announced several coaching moves, including the switch at defensive coordinator. Rod Marinelli, who served as defensive line coach, will replace Monte Kiffin as the DC. Kiffin has been moved to the assistant head coach/defense. The Cowboys finished with the worst statistical season in franchise history, allowing 415.3 yards per game, the fourth-worst season total in NFL history.

Marinelli served as defensive coordinator in Chicago under Lovie Smith for three seasons. The Bears ranked ninth, seventeenth, and fifth in total defense during his three years.

“Rod’s responsibilities will be those typical for a defensive coordinator,” Garrett said Tuesday evening. “He’ll be the point person on defense all throughout the offseason and game-planning and certainly on game plan when he calls the defense.”

While Kiffin’s role has changed, Garrett said the veteran coach will take on a larger role as the assistant head coach and remains a big part of the team’s transition in defenses.

“Kiff has been such an instrumental piece for us transitioning from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense,” Garrett said. “No better guy than Monte Kiffin to help us do that and spearhead that transition. And that transition continues. He’ll oversee the coaches coach and providing a different perspective than he had last year. He has invaluable experience as our defense continues to grow.”

As for the offense, the Dallas Cowboys officially hired Scott Linehan as the team’s passing game coordinator. Linehan, who coached one season with Garrett in Miami in 2005, will be the third play-caller in three seasons, replacing Bill Callahan in that capacity.

However, Callahan will remain as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. Callahan reportedly has received offers from Baltimore to become the OC and perhaps Cleveland, although the Cowboys decided not to grant those teams permission to interview Callahan, who is under contract another season.

“We’re excited about Scott Linehan,” Garrett said. “He’s one of the best coordinators in this league and has been for a number of years. I had the good fortune of working with him in 2005 in Miami. He was our coordinator and I was the quarterback coach. I worked very closely with him and have a great deal of respect for him. His track record speaks for itself. We think he’s a great addition to our staff.”

The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to having a passing game coordinator. In fact, Garrett said he sees this current setup as very similar to what was in place two seasons ago when Garrett called the plays and Callahan remained the OC and coached the line. Now, Linehan will be the play-caller but will work alongside.

“The roles and responsibilities will be similar to what we had a couple of years ago with Scott being in the role I was in,” Garrett explained. “As passing game coordinator, he will call the plays and work closely with Bill Callahan and the rest of the offensive staff in a role we’re comfortable with. He has a comfort level with our system and the language and terminology of our system. That transition we think will be fairly smooth. The perspective and ideas he brings, we think will be a positive thing for our team.”

While in Detroit, Linehan directed an offensive unit that finished the past three seasons ranked sixth, third, and fifth respectively in the NFL in total offense. The Lions ranked 17th in rushing as Reggie Bush had 1,006 rushing yards.

Linehan also served as head coach of the Rams from 2006-08, making him the third assistant with NFL head coaching experience along with Marinelli and Callahan.

While there is a natural perception that both Callahan and Kiffin have been demoted, yet remain on staff, Garrett said it will be his responsibility to make sure every coach is on the same page and has the same goal.

“Embracing your role is a critical piece to this,” Garrett said. ”As coaches and players, we do that all the time. We’re excited to get going and build on positive things we’ve done. You’re always trying to build chemistry on your football team. Every day is an opportunity to do that.”

In other coaching staff news, Garrett said Marinelli is expected to oversee the defensive line but Leon Lett and Ben Bloom will also work closely with that position. 

COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: With Scott Linehan hiring, the Dallas Cowboys have a proven play-caller more compatible with Jason Garrett’s offensive philosophy

Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys beat St. Louis Rams 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys apparently have hired a play-caller that Jason Garrett trusts.

Sure, other teams hire general managers, who hire head coaches, who hire assistants. There’s usually not much intrigue. If they win, they stay. If they lose, they get fired. You don’t need an MBA to figure out the business model.

Here, the GM has a lifetime contract. He can do whatever he wants. He can hire assistants before he hires the coach, or he can hire assistants after he hires the coach. The head coach must be flexible.

Jason Garrett is slowly asserting himself as head coach.

Consider the evolution of Garrett’s staff. Last year, Jerry gave him his second defensive coordinator and first play-caller. Midway through the season, Garrett asserted himself. With the offense struggling, he could have fired Callahan or stripped him of his title. Instead, he inserted himself in the Romo relay. He made his point without contradicting his boss.

Make no mistake: Jerry hired Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin, and he wanted both back this year. Frankly, it’s OK. Change either or both, and it means three coaches in three years in those roles. Constant change is rarely the trademark of excellence.

You could argue that Kiffin did a lousy job with the defense. But you may also remember that Tony Dungy, who won a lot of games with the defense Kiffin employs, said it would take two or three years before the Dallas Cowboys had the proper personnel to run the Tampa Cover-2. And that was before so many players got hurt that Kiffin should have resorted to police tape and barricades.

DIVINE INTERVENTION - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggest changes, but not in the coaching ranks - Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin

The offense had its moments, too, even with the dysfunctional chain of command on play-calling and an apparent lack of understanding that, in football, you run the ball 1.) until somebody stops you, and 2.) when you’re trying to burn some clock. The offensive line was better than it’s been in years, no doubt contributing to Jerry’s desire to keep Bill Callahan under contract.

Jason Garrett knows the ground rules by now. If he didn’t learn them when he played for Jerry, or when Jerry hired him as offensive coordinator (even before hiring Wade Phillips), he learned every time his boss reupholstered his staff.

Slowly but surely, though, Jason Garrett is asserting himself. Derek Dooley, the wide receivers coach hired last year, is a Garrett guy. So is Mike Pope, the new tight ends coach. And Scott Linehan, too.

COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: Veteran Scott Linehan added to Dallas Cowboys coaching staff | Coaches role’s realigned and defined

COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS - Veteran Scott Linehan added to Dallas Cowboys coaching staff - Coaches role’s realigned and defined

The Dallas Cowboys elevated Monte Kiffin to position of assistant head coach/defense, elevated Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator, hired Scott Linehan to be passing game coordinator/play-caller, and announced that Bill Callahan will remain as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.

The team made the official announcement in an emailed press release tonight.

It provided this statement from Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett:

“Our responsibility is to bring quality people into our organization and find the best fit for them. That applies to players, and it applies to coaches. Rod Marinelli’s production in terms of creating turnovers and changing field position as a defensive coordinator is well documented. Monte Kiffin’s overall knowledge and understanding of this defensive scheme will be put to use in mentoring all of the players and coaches on the defensive side of the ball. Monte was brought here to direct a transition in philosophy to the 4-3 scheme, and he will continue to oversee the development of our defense in this scheme.

“The opportunity to add someone of Scott Linehan’s expertise and experience will benefit our offensive unit, and we believe the combination of him and Bill Callahan working closely together will give us a great chance to build upon the strides we made offensively last year.”

Scott Linehan is a former head coach in the NFL, with the St. Louis Rams in 2006-08, and was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions for the past five seasons. Linehan will take on the role of the Dallas Cowboys offensive play caller for the 2014 season. While in Detroit, Linehan directed an offensive unit that finished the past three seasons ranked sixth, third, and fifth respectively in the NFL in total offense.

NO LOVIE IN CHICAGO - Rod Marinelli gave up a chance to be Bears defensive coordinator to reunite with Dallas Cowboys DC Monte Kiffin - The Boys Are Back blog

Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach in 2013, was most recently the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith from 2010 to 2012 where the Bears units finished ninth, 17th, and fifth, respectively. In 2012, the Chicago Bears led the NFL in interceptions (24), takeaways (44), and were third in points allowed (17.3 points per game).

UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE: Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined

UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE - Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff 2014 - Linehan with Stafford

IRVING, Texas – After weeks of speculation, it appears some type of change may be coming to the Dallas Cowboys’ coaching staff.

One week after affirming the job security of offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, the Dallas Cowboys look set to add former Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to their coaching staff. Linehan was at the Dallas Cowboys Valley Ranch facility this morning and took part in staff meetings.

UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE - Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff 2014 - Linehan UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE - Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff 2014 - Bill Callahan
Coach Scott Linehan Coach Bill Callahan

It’s been suggested that Linehan may serve as a passing game coordinator for Tony Romo and a Dallas passing offense that finished No. 14 in the NFL last year. Coach Bill Callahan’s role in the new hierarchy remains to be seen.

If hired, this will be the second time Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan have worked together. Linehan was the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2005, when Garrett was hired as the team’s quarterback coach. Current receivers coach Derek Dooley was also on that staff as the tight ends coach, all under then-head coach Nick Saban. Linehan was hired as the head coach of the Rams after that season and went 11-25 in three years with St. Louis.

He joined the Lions in 2009 as the offensive coordinator. Linehan’s offense in Detroit finished No. 6 in the league overall and No. 3 in passing in 2013, before coach Jim Schwartz’s staff was released following a 7-9 finish. Linehan looks likely to take over as play caller for Callahan, who assumed that duty last season.

The development falls more or less in line with what Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett hinted at from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last week. Jones confirmed then that both Callahan and Monte Kiffin, widely speculated to be fired after a disappointing season, would stay on staff in 2014. What the two coaches’ roles would be going forward wasn’t so clearly defined, though.

“Those guys are under contract, and we feel good about that,” Garrett said last week. “We’re always going to try to do things that are in the best interest of our football team, so we’ll keep looking at how we can be better as a staff and what roles everybody is in and what we’re asking them to do.”

If Linehan does in fact take over playcalling duties, it would be the Cowboys’ third play caller in as many seasons. Garrett managed that responsibility from his initial hiring as offensive coordinator in 2007 up until last season, when he ceded the job to Callahan.

Halfway through the 2013 season, Garrett changed the organization of his staff to give himself a role in the process. Rather than Callahan calling plays to quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who then relayed the call to Romo, Garrett moved Wilson into the coaches booth and relayed the calls himself.

Despite that change, Garrett maintained that Callahan held playcalling responsibilities for the duration of the 2013 season.

Linehan served as offensive coordinator for Detroit from 2009 until this past season. The Lions finished 26th in overall offense in 2009, Matthew Stafford’s rookie season, and subsequently improved to 17th in 2010, fifth in 2011 and third in 2012.

The Dallas Cowboys plan to retain play caller/line coach Bill Callahan. Callahan is considered one of the better offensive line coaches in the NFL, and the improvement of Cowboys’ blocking front has improved since his arrival in 2012.

Recently, the Baltimore Ravens requested to speak with Callahan but were denied permission by the Cowboys. Similarly, the Cleveland Browns have been told they won’t be allowed to speak with Callahan either.


FLASHBACK 2005: Troy Aikman’s hand in Jason Garrett-Scott Linehan relationship

FLASHBACK 2005 - Troy Aikman’s hand in Jason Garrett-Scott Linehan relationship - The Boys Are Back website 2014

You may know that Scott Linehan was the first person to hire Jason Garrett as a coach in the NFL, selecting him to be Miami’s quarterbacks coach when he was the Dolphins offensive coordinator in 2005.

Did you know a call from former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman preceded the hire?

FLASHBACK 2005 - Troy Aikman’s hand in Jason Garrett-Scott Linehan relationship - Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Jason Garrett The Boys Are Back website 2014

“Jason was looking for a job and hadn’t coached yet,’’ Aikman said. “I called Scott and left him a voicemail and told him if I was starting a business, no matter what the business was, Jason would be one of the first guys I would call to be a part of it. I talked about how smart he was.

“I don’t recommend very many people for anything, but I told him if he made the hire that he would probably be thanking me in a short period of time.’’

Linehan hired Garrett 10 hours after meeting him.

Later, when Linehan was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, Aikman asked him if he ever saw Garrett moving on to be a head coach.

“You know,’’ Linehan replied, “several years ago I got a call from a guy who strongly recommended him.’’

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett teaching in classroom with players

Troy Aikman relayed that story Tuesday afternoon as he other Fox analysts were made available at the media headquarters for Super Bowl XLVIII. Now Garrett has returned the favor, adding Linehan to the Dallas Cowboys staff.

Does Aikman believe that Garrett and Linehan will be on the same page more than Garrett and Callahan?

“I don’t know,’’ Aikman said. “I’d like to think he and Bill were on the same page. They had been together already. I’d like to believe that they were in agreement in what they were doing on the offensive side of the ball. I couldn’t say if they will be more on the same page.

“But I think Scott has been doing it longer, he’s been calling plays for a long time and has had a lot of success doing it.’’

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Jerry Jones moving forward with both coordinators in 2014 | Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty coaching staff positions

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER - Jerry Jones moving forward with both coordinators in 2014 - Monte Kiffin and Bill Callahan remaining as Dallas Cowboys coordinators

MOBILE, Ala. – The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff roaming the sidelines at the Senior Bowl will look familiar.

Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said nothing has changed with his coordinators and “there’s nothing there at all” regarding potential changes. He added that he plans on all the coaches still under contract staying aboard.

“The status of it is nothing,” Jones said. “The status is the contracts that are there, everybody’s here. That’s the way you ought to read it, not anticipate anything. I wouldn’t anticipate a thing.”

Jones stuck by Jason Garrett throughout the 2013 season and even after the end of a third straight 8-8 season, but the Cowboys’ head coach is entering the final year of his contract and it doesn’t appear that deal will be extended hastily. Jones said he hasn’t had any thought about that at this point in the year.

“I don’t pay any attention to lame duck status, what you call lame duck status,” Jones said. “I don’t have that term, because I don’t know that there’s such a thing. We’ve got huge, a lifetime, of work ahead of us over the next few weeks. To even consider that needs anything more than an agreement to do this year is not a big thing to me. It’s just too much takeaway from what we’re trying to do right now, which is just get cranked up for 2014.”

Then again, that doesn’t mean he’s lost belief in his head coach or that the pay day won’t come. He said he wants to be there when it does happen.

He gave, and has continued to give, Garrett multiple years to develop his system and get it in place. The same may be going for his coordinators with another year to make adjustments.

“I had a guy tell me one time how to be successful, that no human can be right over 50 percent of the time on any decision, but it’s the ones that cut their bad ones off quick and let their good ones run long (that work out),” Jones said. “That’s hard to do. That’s hard to accept quickly to cut a bad decision off quick.

“We all know the adage of the gold miner that walked away and the other one that took one more swing and hit the pick and found the gold stream. So, you don’t want to quit. It’s easier said than done to let your mistakes go short and your good decisions long.”

It’s getting close to decision time with many veteran Cowboys players and staff members. Most of the focus this offseason has centered on defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, who don’t appear to be going anywhere.

Jones said he doesn’t have to convince people on staff that it’s a good decision to keep Kiffin. He only had to convince “the man in the mirror.”

“Did we discuss and get input on a lot of things? Absolutely,” Jones said. “But what we did not do is have a big debate or management session regarding Monte Kiffin. We didn’t do that. That decision was made last year.

“When you look at the fundamentals of a Monte Kiffin and you look at the fundamentals of his work and you look at what he is and you look at the fact that you decided scheme wise that you liked that competing in the NFL today, then that weighs you from cutting that short. The answer is I didn’t want to cut it short over on defense and some of the same principles are true with cutting it short on Jason, on going on when I talk about I want to be here for the pay day, and this is pay day time for Jason.”

Everything appears to be status quo regarding the coaches still under contract in Dallas, from the head coach down to the assistants.

At some point this offseason, the focus will begin to turn to the contracts of players. But Jones said the team isn’t working on any restructures yet and it’s too early at this point in the year to focus on that. 


RELATED: Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty staff positions

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER - Jerry Jones moving forward with both coordinators in 2014 - Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty coaching staff positions

MOBILE, Ala. – The Dallas Cowboys coaching situation seems to be clearer.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spoke about the job security of Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin today, just one day after team owner/general manager Jerry Jones affirmed that the offensive and defensive coordinator were still under contract for 2014.

Garrett, who is beginning his fourth year as head coach, reiterated Jones’ stance from Monday afternoon, though he added that staff evaluations are still ongoing following the 2013 season.

“Like he said, those guys are under contract. We’re always trying to figure out ways to do better, and that starts with us as a coaching staff,” Garrett said. “We’ll keep looking at what everyone’s roles are and how everything settles down.”

Whether or not those roles would change going forward, though, Garrett declined to say. There has been some (media) speculation that Kiffin and Callahan’s positions could change despite remaining with the Cowboys, but Garrett did not add to it.

“Those guys are under contract, and we feel good about that,” he said. “We’re always going to try to do things that are in the best interest of our football team, so we’ll keep looking at how we can be better as a staff and what roles everybody is in and what we’re asking them to do. But those guys are really good football coaches.”

Instead, Garrett said the current focus was on filling the empty positions on his staff. The Cowboys lost tight ends coach Wes Phillips to the Redskins last week, and they parted ways with assistant special teams coach Chris Boniol after the season.

“We do have some coaches who are out of contract, and we’re trying to get those things settled,” he said. “We’re just in the process of those conversations right now.”

Reports indicated earlier in the week that the Cowboys would replace Boniol with Carlos Polk, who served as an intern under special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia last season. Polk, who also worked with Bisaccia on the Chargers’ coaching staff, confirmed Tuesday that looks to be the case – though his contract isn’t finalized.

“It has not been finalized, but he’s someone who really was a good addition to our team this year. Bisaccia has some history with him in San Diego, and he really came in and played a very prominent role for us on that special teams unit,” Garrett said.

Former Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope has also come up as a potential replacement for Phillips. Pope coached in New York for 23 seasons and was a member of all four of the team’s Super Bowl staffs before the Giants fired him last week.

Pope was coaching in New York when Garrett was a quarterback with the Giants from 2000-03, providing a logical connection.

“There are a number of guys that we’ve talked about in that situation. Mike is a good friend of mine and obviously a very good coach,” Garrett said.

NFL COACHES CAROUSEL: Dallas Cowboys TE coach Wes Phillips joins Washington Redskins

NFL COACHES CAROUSEL - Dallas Cowboys TE coach Wes Phillips joins Washington Redskins

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have lost another coach. Tight ends coach Wes Phillips is heading to the Redskins after meeting with the club in Washington on Thursday.

Wes Phillips will no longer be coaching tight ends for the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2014

Club officials at Valley Ranch have confirmed Phillips is leaving. Phillips even changed his Facebook profile picture to a Washington Redskins logo.

Phillips joined the Cowboys in 2007 on his dad’s first staff in Dallas. Wade Phillips made his son a quality control coach but Wes eventually worked his way up to assistant offensive line coach and then tight ends coach this past offseason, long after Wade Phillips was fired as head coach in the middle of the 2010 season.

Wes Phillips’ contract expired after the 2013 season so he was technically a coaching “free agent.” He will likely become the Washington Redskins tight end coach after Sean McVay was promoted from that position to offensive coordinator by new head coach Jay Gruden.

Wes Phillips coaching tight ends for the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2014

Phillips’ seven years with the Cowboys will likely be a great asset to a new coaching staff unfamiliar to the NFC East. Not only does Phillips know the Dallas Cowboys offense inside and out, along with most of the defensive personnel, but he’s also studied the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles closely as well in his preparations to play these division rivals twice a year.

So far this offseason, the Cowboys have lost four coaches whose contracts had expired – assistant special teams coach Chris Boniol, offensive assistant Dave Borganzi, and assistant coach Mikal Smith. Borganzi and Smith, the son of new Bucs coach Lovie Smith, both went to Tampa Bay. Boniol said it was a “mutual decision” to part ways with the Dallas Cowboys.

Other coaches whose contract have expired include Ben Bloom, Joe Baker, and Keith O’Quinn, who could be a candidate to replace Phillips as tight ends coach.

NFL COACHES CAROUSEL: Dallas Cowboys ST coach Rich Bisaccia interviewing for NFL’s final head coaching vacancy

NFL COACHES CAROUSEL - Dallas Cowboys ST coach Rich Bisaccia interviewing for NFL’s final head coaching vacancy - The Boys Are Back 2014

IRVING, Texas – For the third time already this offseason, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will interview for a head coaching job.

This time, it’s for the Cleveland Browns job, the only remaining head coaching vacancy at this time.

Bisaccia also interviewed for the Redskins and Titans positions last week. Washington has since hired Jay Gruden and Tennessee gave the job to Ken Whisenhunt.

WORK IN PROGRESS - Rich Bisaccia’s Special Teams squad not ready for primetime - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Bisaccia has been with the Dallas Cowboys just one season overseeing the special teams – a unit that had its share of good moments. Dwayne Harris finished third in the NFL with a 12.8 punt return average and second in the league with a 30.6 kickoff return average.

Dan Bailey finished the year with 21 straight field goals and ranked fourth in the NFL with 52 touchbacks.

Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia - 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaches

The coverage teams also fared well, despite a new cast of characters. Three of the four top tacklers on special teams – Jeff Heath (13), Cam Lawrence (12) and Kyle Bosworth (12) were not on the roster last year. Even Bosworth wasn’t on the team at the end of the season, getting cut late in the season. Harris also improved his coverage game with 12 special teams tackles.

The Browns fired Rob Chudzinski after just one season, including a 4-12 record.

While Cleveland’s president is Alec Scheiner, who spent eight years in Dallas, including the five as the Dallas Cowboys Senior VP and General Counsel. He left the Cowboys before Bisaccia joined the team in January.

RIDING INTO THE SUNSET: Dallas Cowboys Special Teams assistant coach Chris Boniol moving on

RIDING INTO THE SUNSET - Dallas Cowboys Special Teams assistant coach Chris Boniol moving on - Dallas Cowboys coaches

IRVING, Texas – Every offseason has some sort of coaching change and the first one for the Dallas Cowboys this year involves the special teams unit.

And it’s not Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coordinator who has interviewed for two head coaching jobs already.

But his assistant Chris Boniol, a former Dallas Cowboys place-kicker from 1994-96, said he will not return to the coaching staff for 2014.

On Wednesday, Boniol confirmed the Cowboys will not renew Boniol’s contract, which expired last week after he signed a one-year contract to work with Bisaccia before last season. Boniol joined the Cowboys’ staff in 2010 when he worked under then-special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

“It’s a mutual agreement,” Boniol said Wednesday. “Everything has gone great the last four years. It’s just time for me to move on. It’s been a good run.”

Boniol said he leaves the organization on nothing but good terms. Boniol said he was especially grateful for the way the Cowboys brought him back last offseason when his contract had expired.

“They really, on my behalf, went to bat to keep me around, which I’m extremely grateful for,” Boniol said, mentioning Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett. “They’ve been extremely generous and supportive. Just fantastic to me and my career development. I had a real good talk with Jason … he’s a good one.”

The Cowboys are coming off another banner season for kicker Dan Bailey, who ended 2013 with 21 straight field goals, including a game-winner against the Giants in late November.

Bailey was 28 of 30 on field goals in 2013, a percentage of .933 that ranked fourth in the NFL. Bailey made six of his seven attempts of 50 yards or more.

Bailey also improved his kickoffs in 2013, ranking tied for fourth in the NFL with 52.

Punter Chris Jones ranked 19th in the NFL with a 45.0 yard punting average. His 39.1 yard net average was good for 20th.

“You can ask anyone around the league – both of those guys – Dan and Chris,” Boniol said of his two kickers from last year. “You’d have a hard time finding better guys at their position. And you’re going to have a hard time finding guys that are that disciplined that have matured athletically and professionally like they have, the last few years. I’m real proud of them. They’ve really grown into true professionals.”

As for Boniol, who owns the Dallas Cowboys record for consecutive field goals made of 27 straight, set in 1996, he said his plan is to continue coaching in the NFL and he’s hoping it will be in a similar role, although becoming a special teams coordinator is a personal goal down the road.

“My long-term goal, that’s always a possibility,” Boniol said of becoming a special teams coach. “However right now, my role that is most important to me is to be an assistant special teams coach in charge of developing young kickers and punters. That’s my gift, that’s really my best role right now for me as an individual.”

COACHES ROSTER SET: Jason Garrett introduces his finalized coaching staff; discusses new hires

Jason Garrett - Will decide who calls offensive plays for the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

IRVING, Texas – In his first press conference since the end of the regular season, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett tried to use the setting to discuss the new faces on his coaching staff.

While he was able to do that, the focus shifted quickly to the issue of play-calling and the possible change next season involving Bill Callahan’s role on the sidelines.

Whether or not Callahan’s situation will be different, many faces surrounding him certainly will be.

Garrett shared some stories about the new coaches, including his involvement with the former Buccaneers assistants Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Rich Bisaccia when Garrett played for Tampa Bay in 2004.

Here’s a short briefing from Garrett on each of his new assistants, including Wes Phillips who has been here for six seasons but is now the new tight ends coach.

Garrett on defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin: Early on, I think he was on to me because every day

after practice I would walk up to him and ask him a football question. He’s a very generous and gracious guy. I learned not only from watching him and how he handled himself and meetings, but just being around him. He’s very gracious and generous. We developed a relationship back then.  My respect level for him is really off the charts. We’re fortunate to have him here to coordinate this defense. He’s done it better than anyone else has.

Garrett on defensive line coach Rod Marinelli: He’s one of those guys who talks about the greatness of

the game of football. He talks about preparing the right way. There’s great honor about playing and coaching this game and doing it the right way. The way he conducted himself that year I was around him, was really, really impressive to me. As impressive as a football coach as I’ve ever been around.

Garrett on special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia: He’s been one of the premier teams guys in the league. He just has an infectious personality. It’s particularly important for a special teams coach.

He’s got a great demeanor. The players play as hard for him as I’ve ever seen players play for any coach. He’s a great teacher, loves the game. He’ll be a great resource for us. He’ll make this team better.

Garrett on wide receiver coach Derek Dooley: When I was a player here in the 90’s, he was coaching receivers at SMU. Our relationship goes back that far. We coached together on Nick Saban’s staff with the Dolphins in 2005-06. We’ve known each other well. He played receiver at Virginia and has a great receiver background. He and I know each other well. He knows our system and I think that transition will be really good for us.

Garrett on tight end coach Wes Phillips: He’s really someone who is my right-hand man. We spent some time together putting the offense in a number of years ago. He’s really been a great asset and resource for me. Wes was a quarterback himself and coached receivers earlier in his career.

Garrett on running back coach Gary Brown: He’s really a guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I’ve known him for afar and competed against him. This is really a football guy. I’m excited about him. Often times, guys that play in the NFL don’t have a willingness to do what’s necessary to coach at this level. He’s a really bright guy. He’s someone who is a really, really good teacher. I know him the least of the guys we hired but I might be as excited about him as anybody else.

Garrett on asst. offensive line coach Frank Pollack: Frank played for Bill Callahan at Northern Arizona in the late 80’s and they go way back. Some of the contributions he can make, along with his relationship with Bill, can make us a really good football team.

FEED THE FEVER: Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spends nearly an hour with press

Editors comment: As you know, as Dallas Cowboys fans, we are in the offseason ‘dead zone’ period between the Super Bowl and the NFL Combine (and subsequent NFL Draft). This time of year is always a letdown for those of us with NFL (and particularly Dallas Cowboys) fever. Like you, I’m constantly in search of relevant news and information about America’s Team from leading sports authorities and trusted insiders. Today, Jason Garrett spent nearly an hour discussing a myriad of subjects regarding the evolution of the team going into the 2013-2014 season. I strongly advise you to listen to the video below. Over 50 articles (and speculation) have been published based on this press conference. As you would expect (and appreciate), there are a wide range of topics covered, including:

  • Offseason coaching changes and insight
  • Offensive delegation and evolution since 2010
  • Advantages of returning to the 4-3 defense
  • Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli defensive philosophy
  • Upcoming play-calling changes and mechanics
  • Anticipated turnovers and the game impact
  • Fitting Dallas’ top-tier CBs into the new 4-3 scheme
  • Jay Ratliff and Josh Brent legal issues
  • Bill Callahan and Jimmy Robinson’s influence and role
  • Ongoing collaborative relationship with Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones

Take the time to listen to the actual press conference and you’ll learn what changes are in store and what went into the decision-making process. Feed the fever!

FEED THE FEVER - Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spends nearly an hour with press - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Jason Garrett Press Conference 2-13 (Click HERE to watch video) Duration – 53:47

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media after a flurry of offseason coaching moves.

Editors note: The new coaches will have a press conference with the Dallas media on Thursday, February 14th at 11:00 am. The Boys Are Back blog will provide a post and link to that event when it becomes available.  

If you enjoyed this special feature, please use the ‘like’ and share buttons below. Thanks for spreading the word about The Boys Are Back blog!

COACHES ROSTER: Dallas Cowboys hire Gary Brown to coach running backs

Dallas Cowboys hire Gary Brown to coach running backs - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys filled their final coaching staff vacancy with the hiring of former Houston Oiler Gary Brown to oversee the running backs.

Brown spent the past four seasons in Cleveland, where his backs included Trent Richardson, who rushed for 950 yards and scored 11 touchdowns this past season.

A Penn State alum, Brown played eight seasons in the NFL after the Oilers drafted him in the eighth round in 1991, finishing his career with 4,300 yards and 21 TDs. He replaces Skip Peete, who was fired after six seasons with the Cowboys.

RELATED: Dallas Cowboys hire Gary Brown as RBs coach

The Cowboys have completed their coaching staff with the hiring of a running backs coach. Dallas has hired Gary Brown.

Brown has spent the past four seasons in Cleveland. Browns running back Trent Richardson was the league’s 18th-ranked rusher and third among rookies, with 950 yards. Richardson also scored 11 touchdowns. Peyton Hillis was Brown’s only 1,000-yard rusher in four seasons, as Hillis gained 1,177 yards in 2010.

Brown replaces Skip Peete, who was not retained after six seasons in Dallas. Peete now is the Bears running backs coach.

Brown played eight seasons in the NFL after being an eighth-round pick of the Houston Oilers in 1991. He rushed for 4,300 yards and 21 touchdowns on 1,023 carries. He started coaching immediately after his playing career ended, starting at Williamsport (Pa.) Area High School in 2000. His first college job was at Lycoming College. He also coached at Susquehanna University and Rutgers before joining the Browns.

COACHES ROSTER: Wes Phillips will coach tight ends; Pollack to assist with offensive line

The Dallas Cowboys announced today (Tuesday) that Wes Phillips will coach tight ends next season after spending the last two seasons as the offensive line assistant.

Wes Phillips will coach tight ends for the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Phillips, son of Houston Texans defensive coordinator and former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, has been with the Cowboys since 2007.

The club also announced the hiring of Frank Pollack as the assistant offensive line coach. Before spending last season as the Oakland Raiders offensive line coach, Pollack spent five seasons with the Houston Texans as assistant offensive line coach.

The hiring of Pollack immediately sparked speculation that the Cowboys will soon assign play-calling duties to offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who coached Pollack at Northern Arizona in 1987-88.

RELATED: Cowboys lighten Bill Callahan’s load with new hires

The Dallas Cowboys announced two more additions to the coaching staff, naming Wes Phillips tight ends coach and former 49ers lineman Frank Pollack assistant offensive line coach.

Frank Pollack added to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff - The Boys Are Back blog

The hiring of Pollack is presumably part of an effort to free up offensive line coach Bill Callahan for more duties. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett have talked about Callahan’s role in play-calling next season.

Phillips’ addition is no surprise. He is the son of former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips and has been with the organization for six years, starting in 2007 as an offensive quality control coach.

Pollack, 45, joins the Cowboys after spending last year as the Raiders’ offensive line coach. He spent the previous five seasons as the Texans’ assistant offensive line coach, working with All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown and Pro Bowl center Chris Myers.

Pollack began coaching at his alma mater, Northern Arizona, in 2006 as the co-offensive line coach. He is a former sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers (1990) and played for the team for two years and Denver for two years before returning to the 49ers for his final five seasons, including a Super Bowl championship.

COACHES ROSTER: Dallas Cowboys announce hiring of Derek Dooley as receivers coach

Dallas Cowboys announce hiring of Derek Dooley as receivers coach - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys announced the hiring of former University of Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley as receivers coach, making official a move reported two weeks ago.

Dooley, 44, replaces Jimmy Robinson, who spent the last two years as receiving coach for the Cowboys and will remain in the organization as a “senior coaching consultant.” Robinson got credit last year for the development of third-year receiver Dez Bryant.

Dooley coached the last three years at Tennessee, going 15-21, and the previous three years at Louisiana Tech, going 17-20. He coached with Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett with the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 2006, when Garrett was the quarterbacks coach and Dooley was the receivers coach.

Dooley’s time at Tennessee was highlighted by quarterback Tyler Bray’s 69 touchdown passes and school record for highest completion percentage in a game.

At Louisiana Tech, Dooley took the Bulldogs to their first bowl victory in 30 years when they won the Independence Bowl in 2008.

Dooley was part of Nick Saban’s staff at LSU, serving as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach for two years and then running backs coach and special teams coordinator.

Dooley started his coaching career in 1996 as a graduate assistant at Georgia. He was a receivers coach and co-recruiting coordinator at SMU for two years after that.

Dooley is the youngest son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley. He played college football at Virginia, walking on as a receiver and then earning a scholarship. He caught 41 passes for 604 yards and three touchdowns for the Cavaliers.

He has a law degree from Georgia and practiced law for two years in Atlanta before beginning to coach. He is married to Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley, a Fort Worth native, and they have three children.

Dooley will be the fourth Cowboys assistant coach with head coaching experience. New defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was the head coach of the Detroit Lions (2006-08), new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was the head coach at North Carolina State (1980-82) and offensive line coach Bill Callahan was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders (2002-03) and the University of Nebraska (2004-07).

COACHES ROSTER: Derek Dooley expected to become new Dallas Cowboys wide receivers coach

tennessee head coach derek dooley - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – Former University of Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is set to join the Cowboys’ staff as the new receivers coach, according to multiple sources.

Dooley, who was a position coach alongside Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett for two years with the Dolphins, will reportedly get the job after interviewing with Garrett. Dooley was the tight ends coach and Garrett was the quarterbacks coach in Miami for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. 

While the majority of Cowboys staff watched the Senior Bowl practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, most of Garrett’s time in Mobile, Ala., was spent interviewing potential position coaches, including Dooley. The Cowboys still need to fill positions for running backs coach and tight ends coach, and the leading candidates for those positions appear to be Sam Gash and Wes Phillips, respectively.

Dooley’s hiring would mark the first new position coach with a direct coaching history with Garrett. The Cowboys brought on defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and special teams coach Rich Bisaccia this offseason, all of whom worked together previously with the Buccaneers.

dallas-cowboys-receivers-coach-jimmy-robinson-talks-with-dallas-cowboys-wide-receiver-dez-bryant - The Boys Are Back blog

The move means former wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson will either hold a new role or leave the staff. He’s been the receivers coach the past two seasons.

Dooley’s only professional coaching experience occurred in those two years alongside Garrett with the Dolphins. Prior to that, Dooley spent three seasons as SMU’s wide receivers coach and five seasons in different roles with LSU. He was on the Tigers’ staff while Marcus Spears and Nate Livings played at the school.

After his time in Miami, Dooley then spent three seasons apiece as head coach at Louisiana Tech and, most recently, with the Volunteers, where he replaced Kiffin’s son, Lane. Dooley compiled a 32-41 total head coaching record between the two schools.

The Cowboys staff will now include three members in Kiffin, Marinelli and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan who’ve served as head coaches at the collegiate or professional level.

dallas cowboys asst head coach jimmy robinson - the boys are back blog

Editors Comment: Jimmy Robinson is the coach you see on the sidelines with Dez Bryant during both good and bad situations. He has a calming influence and is seen teaching and coaching during all phases of the game. He’s the coach that works most closely with Dez and is responsible for some of the progress we’ve seen from Dez recently. I hope the Dallas Cowboys find a way to keep Robinson on the staff. He’s one of those people behind the scenes that can help this team in the long term.

COACHES ROSTER: Meet the 2013-14 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

There have been a number of changes in the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff over the offseason. Here’s an updated list of the assistant coaches and links for more detailed information on each of them. This page will be updated if any other changes are made.

DALLAS COWBOYS HEAD COACH

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside four of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team’s head coach.

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHING STAFF

Offensive Coaches Defensive Coaches Specialty Coaches
Jimmy Robinson
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Monte Kiffin
Defensive Coordinator
Mike Woicik
Strength and Conditioning
To Be Determined
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.
Jerome Henderson
Secondary
Chris Boniol
Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers
Wade Wilson
Quarterbacks
Matt Eberflus
Linebackers
Brett Bech
Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Bill Callahan
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Rod Marinelli
Defensive Line
Rich Bisaccia

Special Teams

Wes Phillips
Assistant Offensive Line
Ben Bloom
Quality Control/Linebackers
Keith O’Quinn
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers
Joe Baker
Assistant Secondary

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