For the Dallas Cowboys, this offseason is sure to bring some significant changes to both the players and coaching staff. With a messy cap situation and decisions to be made on several veterans, one aspect of this franchise that Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett can focus on right now is making additions and subtractions to the staff.
Despite three consecutive 8-8 seasons, Jones is showing uncanny patience with Garrett. But then again, didn't Dave Campo have the same length of time? Anyway, Garrett will be back, but will he and Jones, or just Jones himself, make the determination that a few coaches should be shown the door?
Will Monte Kiffin be fired or perhaps coaxed into retirement? The question is, why should he be back at all? Injuries dealt him a tough hand, but he is not the answer. Bill Callahan was the play-caller, or so we assume, but balance, mismanagement and questionable play calls were once again a problem.
So going on the assumption that change is on the horizon to this staff, the sense of urgency to secure the services of certain coaches has to be taken seriously and handled swiftly by this franchise. Let's look at candidates the Cowboys should be looking at right now.
Turner is technically still serving as the coordinator in Cleveland, but Rob Chudzinski's staff has been granted permission to seek other positions according to Sportscenter (via Pat McManamon of ABC News). Could this be the proper homecoming for Turner, who was a valuable member of the Cowboys during Dallas' glory days?
Turner would be an upgrade over Callahan and someone who could not only help Garrett run the offense, but who could be another pair of eyes from his days as a head coach. His record as a head coach leaves a lot to be desired, but Turner is a respected coordinator who could also aid in developing the weapons on this team.
Turner's ties and familiarity to Garrett makes sense, and this could be something to watch whenever Jones and Garrett get around to addressing the staff.
The Cowboys should not focus entirely on Chudzinski's one-year body of work with the Cleveland Browns and should instead draw their attention to the work he did in Carolina. He was able to take a Panthers offense from the basement of the league to a top-producing unit.
Even if you want to focus on his tenure in Cleveland, you can point to the play of Josh Gordon and Chudzinski's affinity for the vertical passing game. He's aggressive in his play-calling, and the Cowboys could benefit from this, as they have a variety of weapons.
The Cowboys could use some fresh ideas on their offense, and they need to develop young players such as James Hanna, Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris while they continue to bring Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley along.
Chudzinski is an intriguing candidate should they fire or reassign Callahan.
This may seem a little out of the box, but with his father ousted in D.C., Shanahan is certain to be looking for further employment.
On the surface, it was no surprise he wound up with the Washington Redskins, but drama around RGIII, a horrible cap situation and other factors led to a total collapse.
Some may argue that his inexperience was a factor in the Redskins' lack of success, despite them making the playoffs last season, but RGIII put that team on his back and it cost it big. Shanahan is a young coach who will be looking to step out of his father's shadow so to speak.
Could this be a fit in Dallas? Maybe this is more of a hire for the future, but in the meantime, he can bring a different perspective to the current offensive system. In 2013, Washington finished fifth in rushing with 132 yards per game and ninth in total yards per game with 370.
It was an unfortunate ending in Houston for Kubiak considering the level of talent his team possessed. But after starting out this season 2-0, the proverbial wheels fell off the bus. Injuries, inconsistent play and underperformance were just a few factors, but the Texans simply stunk.
Kubiak would be an interesting addition to Garrett's staff and would give him another head coaching mind as a coordinator. Having another coach with that type of experience could benefit Garrett in a lot of ways.
One interesting aspect of Kubiak's tenure with the Houston Texans is that it started off similar to how Garrett's tenure in Dallas started. Kubiak went 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, 9-7 and 6-10 from 2006 to 2010 before finally enjoying success in 2011 and 2012, going 22-10.
This is the most logical and no-brainer option for the Cowboys, as Marinelli, who is serving as the overqualified defensive line coach, is the perfect candidate. The issue here is Marinelli's ties to Kiffin should Kiffin be shown the door. Would he leave based on that?
With Leslie Frazier joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as defensive coordinator, per ESPN, it appears Cowboys fans need not worry about that prospect. But he would still be in play for a parallel move if Jones obliged.
Marinelli would provide stability, and he can continue to build on the outstanding job he did with a makeshift line. His ability to motivate and squeeze every ounce of talent from his players is something this team cannot afford to lose right now.
Horton, like Turner, faces uncertainty from the situation in Cleveland. He's been mentioned as a head coaching interview candidate, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, but if he's available and if Marinelli does bolt, Horton should be a top-of-the-list candidate for the Cowboys.
Horton was successful in Arizona and Cleveland, and he fielded great defenses without an abundance of talent. He's also a former Cowboy who runs an attacking 3-4 scheme—though that could be somewhat of a negative considering Dallas ran a 4-3. Philosophy would have to play a big factor should he be hired.
But if the Cowboys are willing to go back to the 3-4, he is the right man for the job.
Recently fired by the Detroit Lions, Schwartz was previously an outstanding defensive coordinator under Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. He runs an aggressive 4-3 alignment with an emphasis on getting pressure from the front four. He would bring some swagger to this team, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Schwartz could be a nice fit, especially if the Cowboys continue to run the 4-3 and Marinelli joins Lovie Smith in some capacity in Tampa Bay. Right now, he is probably the best 4-3 coordinator outside of the organization.
Ken Norton Jr.
Norton Jr. has served as the Seattle Seahawks' linebackers coach for the past three years under Pete Carroll and Dan Quinn. He would bring that same aggressive scheme and mentality with him to Dallas. This would be a darkhorse candidate but an interesting one.
Haslett is a longtime and well-respected defensive coach who finds himself in a similar situation as some of the Browns' coaches. But he still is a battle-tested NFC East coach who might be a fit in Dallas depending on the direction decided on.
Right now, there is very little word on what Garrett and Jones might do, but the Cowboys need to cover all of their bases.
Before you start laughing, this is just another case of leaving no stone unturned. That's how bad things defensively were in Dallas this year, and if Jerry Jones really wants to win, he'll take upgrading the defense very seriously.
Do the Cowboys still have an amicable relationship with Phillips to the point he would return? Bear in mind that his son, Wes, is a tight ends coach on Garrett's staff. It would be awkward, but nonetheless it's something to consider. This would also mean a switch back to the 3-4, but Phillips has familiarity with a lot of the personnel.
No matter what the Cowboys do, strap yourself in for an eventful offseason. If Jones is smart, then work is already underway regarding the staff. Three 8-8 seasons would prompt correcting things, right?