Cowboys finalize coaches, hoping middle of staff can bring changes

FRISCO, Texas -- At long last, the Dallas Cowboys finalized their coaching staff.

The final addition was Markus Paul as a strength and conditioning coach.

A total of 10 changes were made to Jason Garrett’s staff, including eight new hires and two promotions.

On offense, Paul Alexander replaces Frank Pollack as offensive line coach, Sanjay Lal replaces Derek Dooley as wide receivers coach, Doug Nussmeier replaces Steve Loney as tight ends coach and Kellen Moore replaces Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach.

On defense, Kris Richard replaces Joe Baker as secondary coach and takes over the passing-game coordinator title from Matt Eberflus, Ben Bloom replaces Eberflus as the linebackers coach and Ken Amato replaces Turner West as a defensive assistant.

On special teams, Keith O’Quinn was promoted to special-teams coordinator after Rich Bisaccia’s departure, with Doug Colman coming in as the assistant special-teams coach.

The strength and conditioning staff has a new structure with Mike Woicik moving into a director of strength and conditioning role with Brett Bech and Paul sharing strength and conditioning titles.

What hasn’t changed is at the top with Garrett, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

The Cowboys are looking for changes in the middle of the staff to bring ideas and freshness on both sides of the ball that fit with the schemes that Linehan and Marinelli prefer.

The Cowboys will not look drastically different on either side of the ball with these coaching moves.

Alexander long has been viewed as one of the better teachers among offensive line coaches with a 20-plus year run with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has run power-blocking schemes and zone-blocking schemes. He has had success in running games with smaller, shiftier runners and big, strong backs.

Earlier in the offseason, owner and general manager Jerry Jones espoused Lal’s ability and said the Cowboys had to fight off a couple of teams to add him. The first question that needs to be answered is if Dez Bryant will be part of Lal’s group in 2018.

The Cowboys have run a similar defense as the Seattle Seahawks in the last few years and Richard has the chance to make the biggest impact of any of the new hires. He served as Seattle’s coordinator for three years and has had head coaching opportunities. The passing game coordinator is ultimately responsible for the back seven defensively, mixing coverages and schemes with what Marinelli wants to do up front.

In the draft last year, the Cowboys invested heavily in the secondary with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods moving into large roles by the end of 2017. Richard will have to nurture their growth and potentially deal with linebacker changes while making it all work with how Marinelli operates the pass rush.

O’Quinn knows the Cowboys’ roster, as he has been on staff since 2010 and he spent four years as Bisaccia’s assistant. There won’t be a learning curve between the players and the coach even if there are changes to scheme. O’Quinn’s strength might be in his scouting background in how the final pieces of a 53-man roster are designed to help special teams.

In previous years, Jones has lauded Garrett and the staff, but deemed changes as necessary after a disappointing 9-7 finish in 2017.

The changes in 2018 are not drastic, but Jones is hoping the results differ greatly in 2018. If not, then there could be changes at the top in 2019.