Dallas Cowboys Coaches Will Determine Success In 2009

John MossSenior Analyst IMay 28, 2009

IRVING, TX - MAY 01:  Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys during rookie mini camp on May 1, 2009 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

With all that has gone on with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, whether or not Dallas has a successful season or a disastrous one ultimately falls on one group:  the coaching staff.   

Some coaches face much more pressure than others; namely wide receivers coach Ray Sherman and secondary coach Dave Campo.  Others are some of the best in the league at what they do, like tight end coach John Garrett.

At the top is head coach Wade Phillips, who also takes over defensive coordinator responsibilities in 2009.  Phillips is entering his third year at the helm in Dallas and his 32nd year of overall NFL coaching experience.  Prior to his arrival in Dallas, Phillips spent time as defensive coordinator in San Diego for three seasons, installing the 3-4 scheme and transforming the Chargers into one of the best defensive teams in the league. 

Phillips is a monster in the regular season, compiling a .592 career winning percentage, sixth best among active coaches.  He has guided his teams to four playoff appearances in six years as a head coach, but has yet to record his first playoff win… something he will have to change in 2009 if he wants to secure his place with the Cowboys.

In only his fifth year at the NFL level, Jason Garrett is entering his third season as offensive coordinator with the Cowboys and second as assistant head coach.  Prior to his arrival in Dallas, Garrett spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins

In his first season with the Cowboys in 2007, the offense fell just short of the team record for yards in a season with 5,851 total yards from scrimmage.  Garrett kept right on rolling in 2008, as the Cowboys' offense amassed 5,512 total yards. 

2009 will be the biggest challenge yet for Garrett, as Dallas loses its top wide receiver, Terrell Owens.  In his place is a stable of unproven players, causing many in the organization to favor a shift toward a more run-oriented offense.

There are a handful of coaches on the Cowboys roster that deserve seldom-received recognition, and chief among them is John Garrett.  As tight ends coach, Garrett is responsible for the continued growth and improvement of Pro Bowler Jason Witten and second-year standout Martellus Bennett. 

Dat Nguyen returns for his second season as assistant linebackers coach under first-year linebackers coach Reggie Herring.  Nguyen and Herring will be responsible for the team’s best unit on defense, featuring Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, and new acquisition Keith Brooking.

Skip Peete returned to the Cowboys in 2007 to coach the running backs and has made a dramatic improvement at the position in just two seasons.  Dallas now features a three-headed running attack with Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice.  Peete looks to be in the spotlight in 2009, as the Cowboys should rely more on the ground game, putting pressure on Peete to have them ready to shine.

Arguably the most recognized offensive line coach in the NFL, Hudson Houck returns for his 10th overall season with the Cowboys.  Houck was originally with the team from 1993-2001, shaping an offensive line that grounded Dallas to three Super Bowl titles.  Houck looks to work his magic again in Dallas with a unit that is considered by many to be the most talented offensive line in the league.

The final two coaches face the toughest challenges in 2009: wide receiver coach Ray Sherman and secondary coach Dave Campo.  Sherman has to mold a No. 1 receiver out of Roy Williams and has to find a consistent second option out of either Patrick Crayton or Miles Austin.

Campo loses a starting cornerback in Anthony Henry and a starting safety in Roy Williams.  He is left with a particularly bare cupboard of players outside of Pro Bowl cornerback Terrence Newman.  Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick will be Campo’s biggest challenge, as they both will be looked upon to be stalwarts in the secondary all season long.