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Dallas Cowboys: Could Black Monday Bring Offensive Changes?

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Dallas Cowboys: Could Black Monday Bring Offensive Changes?
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Former San Diego head coach Norv Turner

The 2012 Dallas Cowboys missed the NFL postseason for a third consecutive year. The assumption is that owner and general manager Jerry Jones won’t bring in a firing squad for the coaching staff. Since the Cowboys 3-5 start, there have been numerous rumors regarding a potential successor to head coach Jason Garrett.

But following a push for the NFC East title and a playoff berth that fell short in Washington on Sunday Night, Jones’ vacation from questions regarding names like Sean Payton and Mike Holmgren is over.

Sure, Payton will no longer pop up in conversation having just re-upped with New Orleans following a one-year suspension.

But as Black Monday rolls along, with dozens of people cleaning out offices on New Year's Eve, Jones has to have his eyes open on everything going on. In other words, you could speculate all day long about coaches not currently in the league that Jones might have an interest in. But as of now, there’s a whole new crop of names that could affect Jones’ thinking moving forward.

I suppose two names that currently hit the unemployment line that could intrigue Jones might be Andy Reid and Norv Turner.

Since Jones doesn’t seem likely to take the full step forward in getting a proven head coach with experience, perhaps he’ll kick the tires on this offensive coordinator business.

Remember that Garrett arrived with some urgency at Jones’ request following the 2006 regular season. With a golden ticket punched to eventually become Dallas’ head coach, Garrett would serve as the offensive coordinator for three-and-a-half seasons. Next, he was elevated to interim head coach as Wade Phillips was sent packing at midseason in 2010.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Dallas head coach Jason Garrett.

While there isn’t much suggesting that Garrett is moving the franchise forward as head coach, I’d also suggest that there’s little more to claim that his offensive playbook and play calling talents are anything that merits promotion or recognition.

Quarterback Tony Romo seemed to flourish immediately in Garrett’s offense in 2007. Dallas would finish the regular season with a record of 13-3 and would clinch the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Without rehashing the debacle against New York in the divisional playoff game that followed, I’ll simply point out that an unexpected lack of offense is what prevented the Cowboys from beating a team they swept during the regular season, while tallying 76 points in two wins over the Giants.

Garrett’s postseason debut brought 17 points in a losing effort.

Well, has Jones or anybody else seen anything that shows adaptation by Garrett? Has he seen steady improvement in all phases of the offense? Is there balance?

Obviously the answer to those questions is, quite simply, no.

So if Jones is really adamant about keeping Garrett as a head coach, why not look into a play caller such as Turner? He’s never been much of a head coach, like Garrett for example, but Turner has some offensive coordinator stripes that Garrett dreams of.

Has anybody in the history of Dallas Cowboys football ever made a single offensive play call that made more history than Tuner? Remember Troy Aikman’s 69-yard completion to Alvin Harper in the fourth quarter of the 1992 NFC Championship Game?

Norv Turner calls first down pass to Alvin Harper.

Turner launched a dynasty with that call and he led the Dallas offense to back-to-back Super Bowl wins beginning two weeks later at the Rose Bowl.

And then there’s Andy Reid.

Another offensive mind coming out of Philadelphia following a long and successful tenure as head coach, Reid is a bit too pass happy for my taste, but at least he knows how to get the short yards out of his passing game. The “west coast” offense offers much in the way of quicker and shorter routes that also tend to protect his quarterbacks.

Reid also knows how to attack opposing defenses and he definitely prefers blue chip linemen with size and power.

Assuming that Turner and Reid are not head coaches elsewhere in 2013, either would have to give Jones reason to give this idea some thought. Jones is already on record following his team’s loss to the Redskins as admitting that significant challenges lie ahead.

Yes, they do—and winning a playoff game is not the biggest of those challenges.

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Andy Reid coached 14 seasons in Philadelphia in reaching four NFC championship games.

Garrett’s offenses have also shown up in highly disorganized and ineffective fashion in other big games, including the 2008 regular season finale in Philadelphia and the 2009 divisional playoff blowout loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Garrett is simply not a big time play caller.

So Black Monday should offer some food for thought for Jones.

Does he risk allowing the possibility of missing the playoffs a fourth-straight season because the Cowboys can’t run the ball and Romo keeps getting injured, as he was again in the finale at Washington?

There are football professionals available that surpass Garrett’s experience on all levels. While it’s true that the Cowboys need to add more talent on the field, they absolutely need to add more to the sidelines.

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