In the wake of Rob Ryan’s firing, Jerry Jones has some big decisions to make in regards to defense.
Speculation abounds that the Cowboys may revert to the 4-3 scheme. If they do, a couple of big name 4-3 experts may be on the radar. Lovie Smith is out as head coach in Chicago and Dave Wannstedt is looking for work since his head coach Chan Gailey was canned in Buffalo.
I love me some Lovie. Despite not getting the Bears over the hump and into a Super Bowl, he put together some competitive teams. His defense in Chicago was especially strong. Smith is a Texas native and grew up an avid Cowboys fan. You have to think that if he is willing to step back to the coordinator level, Dallas would be at the top of his wish list.
Of course, changing schemes is a challenge, since the Cowboys have for the last eight years assembled talent suited to the 3-4. If the Cowboys do not change back to the 4-3, Romeo Crennel or Ray Horton may be the answer Jerry reaches for.
Wannstedt is a a familiar name in these parts. He was Jimmy Johnson’s first defensive coordinator and an architect of those dominant Super Bowl-winning teams in the early nineties.
Rob Ryan’s firing was not really fair, but it wasn’t really a bad thing, either. The guy has delivered more rants than results. He brags about being good, but his win-lost record is suspect, as Gerry Fraley points out in this tweet:
Thanks to @rattocsn. Short-changed Ryan a season with Oakland. He has been a DC for nine seasons, and the record is 46-98. Regret the error.
— Gerry Fraley (@gfraley) January 9, 2013
But defensive coordinator is just the starting place for this team, or it should be.
If Jerry really wants to shake things up, here are some other moves that he needs to make:
- Hire Mike Holmgren. Jerry won’t make Holmgren the GM, of course. So, make him a consultant, a special assistant to the GM. Let him work with Garrett on fixing the offense. Consult with him on personnel moves, such as trades, free agents and drafting. Pay him well and listen to him.
- Hire an offensive coordinator. The Cowboys need a scheme change, a philosophy adjustment, and a new play-caller. They have become the team that puts up nice numbers in terms of yards gained, but fails to convert that to points. Norv Turner is available, but is he the answer? Hire Holmgren and let him and Garrett put together a plan, Jerry.
- Hire a new special teams coach. Part of the reason the Cowboys’ offense racks up yards without points is because they are almost always working with a long field. Sustaining long drives in the NFL is difficult for any team. The Cowboys need more dynamic play on special teams, especially in the return and coverage areas.
- Draft Linemen. Quit worrying about the sexy moves in the draft and find someone that can buy Romo a second or two to throw the ball and occasionally open a hole for your running backs.
- Make post-Romo plans. It is almost certain Garrett gets one more year to show some progress. So should Romo. Forget a long extension, Jerry. He is 34 now. He has taken a beating, thanks to your neglect of the offensive line. Don’t get caught with your pants down when he is either done or it becomes apparent he will never guide you where you claim you want to be. The Super Bowl. Remember the intervening years between Aikman and Romo? Remember all those failed attempts to solve the problem of QB? Chad Hutchinson. Quincy Carter. Vinny Testaverde. Drew Bledsoe. Your franchise cannot afford another decade in the wilderness.
What Jerry Jones has built is a model of mediocrity. That, and a billion dollar stadium. He is parking a Kia in a Lamborghini garage. Changing the tires on the Kia won’t make it a fine piece of machinery.
The time for real change is now. Heck, Cowboys fans might even accept a year of losing, if they see something special is being built.