As commander in chief of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones is free to run his franchise as he sees fit. After watching his team miss out on back-to-back opportunities to win the NFC East and secure a playoff berth, Jones has begun to implement the change he vowed to deliver.
The question is not whether the changes are complete but rather if other ones are being overlooked. When you analyze the offensive structure of this team, Jones must not overlook the issue of the need for an offensive coordinator.
Jones' initial changes commenced with the dismissals of running backs coach Skip Peete and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Now, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Jones' next target in the coaching shakeup has become John Garrett. There is also the mention of increased pressure for Jason Garrett to finally give up the play-calling duties to focus more on game management.
Two and a half years into the Jason Garrett era of multiple responsibilities has had its peeks and valleys. It's not that things are that much better or worse since this experiment began, but the results are, well, mediocre. And as a franchise the Cowboys continue to post mediocre results.
Jones can force the firing of John Garrett or Wade Wilson or Jerome Henderson but if he thinks that's the kind of change necessary to win consistently in the NFL, then he's fooling himself.
The concept of change needs to start with Jason Garrett if he has any chance at a future in Dallas.
The Cowboys must find a suitable offensive coordinator to help Garrett, unless Bill Callahan's current title actually allows him the opportunity to fill the role on the basis of reality. If Garrett and Jones don't view Callahan as a viable play-caller, then what's the point of having him in the picture?
If a new offensive coordinator comes in, wouldn't Callahan feel slighted? Resentful? Passed over? The bottom line is that this offense still has several issues to deal with and it starts with the inexplicably horrible starts to games.
The Cowboys were consistently faced with the insurmountable task of having to play catch-up and it began to form the identity of the offense. That's not an identity to build upon and it's definitely not the formula for success.
In my estimation, the slow starts fall directly on Garrett and lead to a multitude of questions.
Does Garrett have this team ready to play? Are they motivated? Are they getting his message? Is Garrett preparing enough? Is there too much on his plate? And can he manage a dual role and improve every year?
The Cowboys averaged a shade under eight points per game going into halftime and their 376 points scored qualified them for 15th in the NFL. The Cowboys compiled 5,994 in offensive yards compared to their opponents' total of 5,687. The fact is that this team continues to compile a lot of yardage and not enough points.
What is Jerry missing here?
Garrett needs to be more of a game manager and a CEO on the sidelines rather than focusing his efforts primarily on the offense and then inserting himself into the management process. If Jones wants to talk about change, implement change and deliver real change, then he needs to tackle this problem head on.
Garrett has proved himself as a solid leader in difficult times; he's a tireless worker and a bright football mind. The fact that the Cowboys were close two years in a row tells me that the players are still responding and they might fight until the end, but something continues to hold this team back.
You can make the argument all day regarding the offensive line, the defensive injuries and the winnable games that slipped through the cracks, but the time has come to face facts and tweak the offensive structure of this football team.
The Cowboys are leaving points on the board, the offense is not helping the defense and that is where the bigger issues lie.
Jerry Jones felt the need to make some changes after a disappointing end to the season. Part and parcel to that, I think he needed to pacify a frustrated fanbase, but I also think that he is creating the sense of urgency this franchise needs.
The bigger question here is whether Jones is wielding his power logically or simply making change for change's sake. For starters, it appears that he has at least identified a few problems, but hopefully he doesn't overlook the issue of offensive coordinator in the process.
It will be an interesting and uncomfortable continuance of the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys. A new defensive coordinator has arrived, free agency will begin and the draft is imminent. It's an exciting time of year as well for the franchises which failed to qualify for the playoffs. It's a chance to be optimistic about the future but mindful of the failures of the past.
For the Cowboys, failure, mediocrity and disappointment are simply not options anymore. That's the biggest issue Jerry Jones is faced with fixing.
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