Tony Sparano’s return to Valley Ranch makes so much sense that Jerry Jones needs to offer as many dollars as necessary to make it happen.
Maybe that won’t matter, as Sparano has financial security from the contract extension the Dolphins gave him through 2013 before deciding to fire him as their head coach in December. Maybe Sparano will be offered a true offensive coordinator job with play-calling responsibilities, which Jason Garrett will not give up, that he considers too good to pass up.
But Jerry has to give it his best shot if he really wants Garrett to succeed.
Jones has proven in the past that he’s willing to pay top dollar for assistant coaches, compensating Garrett like a head coach to keep him on Wade Phillips’ staff and making Hudson Houck the NFL’s first million-dollar offensive line coach. Sparano, a key factor in helping Bill Parcells rebuild the Cowboys’ respectability last decade, justifies that kind of offer.
Loyalty to Houck, who is in his second tour of duty at Valley Ranch, can’t get in the way of what’s best for the franchise. Jones and Garrett can’t let their personal feelings for Houck cloud their judgment.
If Houck and Sparano can co-exist on a staff, that’s swell. But if Houck has to go to make room for Sparano, so be it.
There are many reasons why Sparano, who is respected tremendously by team leaders like Tony Romo and Jason Witten, should be a priority for the Cowboys. The main ones:
1. Sparano would make Garrett a better head coach: Whether he wants to publicly admit it or not, everybody knows that Garrett made critical clock-management errors in a couple of losses. One solution would be to give up play-calling duties to allow Garrett to focus more on the big picture during games, but that isn’t going to happen. He’d benefit from having somebody else on the headset with significant head coaching experience.
2. Sparano would make Garrett a better offensive coordinator: This isn’t just a theory. It’s fact. Garrett’s best season by far as an offensive coordinator was in 2007, the only season that he worked with Sparano. The Cowboys ranked second in the NFL in scoring (28.4 points per game) that season despite it being Romo’s first full year as a starter. They’ve been a top-10 scoring offense only once in the four seasons since then, when they ranked seventh (24.6 points) in 2010.
3. Sparano would make the offensive line better: Dallas’ offensive line has steadily regressed since Sparano’s departure. His edginess and expertise have been missed. Hiring Sparano would increase Tyron Smith’s chances to reach his immense potential. It would increase Doug Free’s odds to return to his 2010 form. It’d give the Cowboys’ young, unproven offensive linemen – which should include another early-round pick in April – their best shot of developing into long-term solutions.
One man could help fix a few of the Cowboys’ biggest flaws. What’s that worth to Jerry?
UPDATE: Houck is retiring, as reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. He will be replaced by Bill Callahan, whose résumé includes stints as a play-caller and head coach for the Raiders and University of Nebraska.
Two former Cowboys assistant coaches, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley, were fired from their head coaching jobs on Monday.
Sparano, a Cowboys assistant for five seasons (2003-07), was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Another former Cowboys assistant, Todd Bowles, was named as the interim head coach. Sparano was in his fourth season with the Dolphins.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs parted ways with Todd Haley after two-plus season as head coach. Haley was an assistant coach from 2004-06. He left the Cowboys to become offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals for two seasons, the final of which culminated in Arizona’s first trip to the Super Bowl.
Sparano and Haley joined Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville) as NFL head coaches who have been fired this season.
Interesting note: all three men had ties to the Dallas Cowboys. Del Rio was a linebacker for the team from 1989-91.
More about Sparano and Haley below:
A few weeks ago, the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving guests looked like a gimme win.
Not anymore. The Miami Dolphins will bring a three-game winning streak to town.
The Dolphins aren’t just winning. They suddenly started dominating after an 0-7 start that was punctuated by three-point losses to the Broncos and Giants. Miami’s wins over the Chiefs, Redskins and Bills came by an average margin of 22 points.
An inept offense has morphed into an explosive one with Cowboys castoff quarterback Matt Moore throwing for six touchdowns and only one interception during the win streak. The Dolphins, who scored 20 points only once in the first seven games, have put up 31, 20 and 35 in the last few games.
The Dolphins’ defense, which has been respectable all season, hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the last three games.
“The group just keeps fighting, keep swinging pretty good,” Miami coach Tony Sparano told reporters Monday. “I think it’s great, but right now that one is behind us and we’re ready to go to the next one and see what we do.”
A win over these Dolphins certainly isn’t the sure thing it seemed to be a few weeks ago.
DIFFERENT STROKES: Approaches different by Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins for upcoming Thanksgiving Day game
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett meets with Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after the Dallas Cowboys win. Shortly afterwards, Garrett began preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day game vs Miami Dolphins.
IRVING, Texas — Jason Garrett did not go home after the Cowboys returned from Washington D.C. on Sunday night, heading straight to Valley Ranch to begin work on Thursday’s opponent, Miami.
The assistant coaches reviewed the game film of the Redskins’ win on the plane ride home and got to work on the Miami plan Monday morning.
In Garrett’s focused world, he did not want to turn attention away from Washington in leading up to the Redskins’ game.
Miami coach Tony Sparano, who was a Dallas assistant from 2003-07, had a slightly different approach even as the Dolphins have put together a three-game winning streak.
“Well the challenge for me and the challenge for the players is completely different,” Sparano told the Dolphins’ media. “I mean coaches we’ve spent the last couple weeks, last couple weekends in preparation for this and then came right back after the game here and got work done early this morning so everything was ready to go.”
Because of Sparano’s history in preparing for the Thanksgiving game with the Cowboys, any advantage the Cowboys would have in a short week could be mitigated.
“I think a lot of people around the league have played in Thursday games,” Garrett said. “I don’t think that’s a huge, huge advantage. Tony is obviously a great football coach and we were fortunate to have him here and I was fortunate to work with him for a year when I first got here. He’ll have his team ready no doubt.”