Once the Dallas Cowboys make it official sometime this week that Jason Garrett is head coach, he'll have a decision to make at defensive coordinator. Paul Pasqualoni, who replaced Wade Phillips as coordinator when he was fired, certainly got his players to perform with more passion in the final eight games. And the improvement in terms of takeaways was dramatic.
But the Cowboys continued to give up large chunks of yards and points under Pasqualoni. When the team desperately needed a stop at the end of a game, this unit rarely delivered -- even against the likes of rookie John Skelton. I think it will the toughest decision Garrett makes this offseason because he has to balance loyalty with production. Did we simply overestimate the talent level on this defense or was it an issue with the coaching?
"When you look at it on the whole, he was put in a difficult situation in the middle of the year and tried to implement some of the changes we wanted to do,” Garrett said of Pasqualoni per ESPNDallas.com. “I thought he handled the situation well. I thought our players responded to him.
"I think we need to get better on defense. There is no question about that."
What Garrett said about players responding to Pasqualoni is true. The former Syracuse coach has a presence about him that tends to keep players on edge. He rarely smiles and he peeks over the rims of his glasses like a college professor. I remember defensive end Stephen Bowen telling me how Pasqualoni grabbed everyone's attention in his first meeting with the defense. It was quite a jolt after four seasons with Phillips.
I think Pasqualoni's the leading candidate to get the job, but Garrett still owes it to himself and the organization to look around. Perhaps there's another member of the Garrett family out there who specializes in defense.