IRVING, Texas -- If you want to take Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones on his word that there will not be any changes with the coordinators in 2014, go ahead.
From the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Jones said, “everybody has a contract and I plan on them being there.”
He also said he does not “anticipate anything at all.” We can parse the words and say Jones has the ability to change his mind -- or have his mind changed -- at any time.
Today is Jan. 21. The next time the Cowboys coaches are on the field with the players is in the spring for some on-field teaching days. What might be true on Monday might not be true in a couple of days, weeks or months.
The Cowboys do not have to make a decision on Monte Kiffin and/or Bill Callahan today because there won’t be a scheme change if the coordinators change.
Is Jones just being stubborn?
It was his idea to bring in Kiffin last year. It was his idea to make Callahan the playcaller.
The defense was historically bad in 2013. Injuries played a part, but Rob Ryan was not allowed a third year after he oversaw a bad defense with the Cowboys. And that bad defense played better than Kiffin’s with more starters and key contributors missing games. The offense was OK, but did it truly overwhelm anybody? The performances away from AT&T Stadium were pedestrian at best.
The Cowboys will run the 4-3 in 2014. It will be a form of Kiffin’s Tampa 2. The Cowboys can simply elevate Rod Marinelli or Matt Eberflus to the coordinator role whenever they want before the on-field teaching sessions and have that continuity Jones wants.
The Cowboys will run Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme in 2014. Jones put the head coach and offensive coordinator in bad spots in 2013 by having Callahan call the plays. He was not familiar with the passing game, coming mostly from a West Coast background. He might have been the offensive coordinator in 2012, but he was not involved in the passing game at all. Garrett got more involved in the offense after the bye week, calling the plays into the quarterback.
If a change comes on the offensive side of the ball, then Garrett can simply take back the playcalling duties as he enters the final year of his contract. That transition is easier than what would happen on defense. The Cowboys could simply elevate Frank Pollack from assistant offensive line coach to run the whole group. That unit has a ton of respect for Pollack, who had more day-to-day contact with the line then Callahan did.
That Kiffin and Callahan are at the Senior Bowl scouting players means nothing to me. Leading up to the draft Jones says the most important information he has comes from the scouts. Three days of watching an all-star game practice should not mean the assistants would have a great read on the players. And, if truth be told, assistant coaches spend more time talking to friends from other staffs than actually intently watching these practices anyway.
Jones can say what he wants now about possible changes on the staff, but he or Garrett would not have to look far for replacements.