Continuity a key for Jason Garrett's coaching staff

IRVING, Texas -- For the first time since 2012, it looks like the Dallas Cowboys will have the same offensive and defensive playcallers in back-to-back seasons.

Rod Marinelli has agreed to a three-year deal to return as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. The Cowboys hope to finalize a contract with Scott Linehan as early as Wednesday to remain the offensive playcaller.

“I think it’s important to try to have systems of offense, defense and kicking game in place, stuff that we believe in, stuff that we can improve upon,” Garrett said. “I think that’s an important piece of the puzzle.”

In Garrett’s first two years as the full-time coach, he was the offensive playcaller and Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator. In 2013, Bill Callahan called the offensive plays and Monte Kiffin was the defensive coordinator.

In 2014, those duties fell to Linehan and Marinelli.

And Garrett had effusive praise for both.

Marinelli took over a defense that was shaken to its core in 2013 and without DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee. He built the confidence of the holdovers and the newcomers and while the statistics were not sparkling they were able to take the ball away (31 turnovers forced).

“Rod’s just done a fantastic job not only for our defense but our whole football team. He made our players better. He made our coaches better. He’s just a great football coach and he’s a great person to have in your organization. He represents all the right things and I thought the defense played remarkably well. We had a lot of questions coming into this season and we had some injuries, and at every turn that group just continued to overcome the different adversities that cropped up and handled the situations well and played very well.

“There are a lot of different ways to measure your defense and a lot of people get caught up in yards and all the different ways that people use numbers in this game but taking the ball away impacts the game. It impacts the game like none other, and for us to be second in the National Football League taking the ball away, that’s really positive impact on our football team. You look at the correlation between takeaways and points scored and it’s a pretty direct correlation and has been for a long time And points scored relates to winning. So their impact was significant and I thought they handled all the different adversities really well and I think his leadership had a lot to do with that.”

Linehan was a newcomer to the staff that had been together for some time. He also had to walk the delicate balance of working with the person who called plays last year, Callahan. He also inherited a quarterback who has been in the same system since 2007 and a core of players who have been used to the system for years.

“Came in here with a system of football that was in place with a lot of players and coaches that were in place and fit himself in and led that offensive unit really, really well,” Garrett said, “and I just think what he was able to do of maximizing the coaches and the players on that offensive side of the ball was just fantastic. Again, like with Rod, I learn a lot from these guys on a daily basis. They’re great football coaches and we’re lucky to have them.”