The Dallas Cowboys will soon make an official and likely long-term decision regarding the most important area of weakness in the entire organization. We can look up and down the roster and find numerous peaks and valleys where talent is concerned. We can also debate until dawn the merits and downfalls of the owner, president and general manager. But head coach is where the biggest decision has to be made.
The midseason firing of Wade Phillips has left this franchise with nothing proven at arguably the most important position in the entire organization. As Jerry Jones contemplates whether or not he wants America’s Team to once again carry that nickname as opposed to America’s Joke, he has to hit it right on the next big decision he makes at head coach.
There are several directions Jones can go once the 2010 regular season ends in little more than a week. Assuming that Jones has accepted the difficult reality that interim head coach Jason Garrett is a much bigger part of the problem than any kind of solution, he has some big names to look at.
But since we realize that no head coach in the NFL has ever won multiple Super Bowls in more than one location, it’s hard to see him taking the route he did back in 2003 when he hired Bill Parcells. After all, Parcells has come closer than anybody in terms of winning a championship with more than one organization and even he did not come too close.
The names being spoken loudest for future head coaching positions, which will be opening up soon, are Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Brian Billick. Other candidates from the college ranks include Jim Harbaugh from Stanford and Bob Stoops from Oklahoma.
While dipping into the college ranks worked as far as Jones’ original coaching hire upon purchasing the Cowboys in 1989, recent history suggests that this might not be the way to go. Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban went to Washington and Miami, respectively, with about as much clout as you can have coming from the intercollegiate level and yet those hires were both brief and embarrassing for all involved.
Now, there are some names from the assistant arena that Jones could consider but I don’t know that this works very well either.
While guys like Bill Belichick, Mike Holmgren and others have reached Super Bowl prominence climbing up the professional ranks, you don’t often see new head coaches from this direction pan out very often, and many get that opportunity seemingly every year based on their previous team’s post-season success. Problem is they can’t take their previous roster with them.
If you’re looking a for a head coach, I think you need someone who lights a fire under everybody’s tail end. You need someone who wants to win more than anybody else in the organization. It’s known that two-time Super Bowl winner Jimmy Johnson wasn’t exactly the biggest X’s and O’s guy you’ve ever seen.
Johnson knew what his philosophy was and he surrounded himself with guys like Dave Wannstedt, Norv Turner, Dave Campo, etc. And don’t think that even Johnson’s coaching staff did not fear, or at least respect, his insistence that winning be placed above all else. Authority is one thing, but winning is what earns you that kind of juice.
If you spent much time watching Spike TV's 4th and Long, hosted by none other than Michael Irvin, you may have seen what I did.
I saw a head coach that has never done it before.
I’m betting that you’re aware of Irvin’s impact on the Dallas offense over the better part of the 12 seasons he played in the NFL. He never wore another helmet and never, ever gave it less than 110 percent. Perhaps best of all, he never allowed his teammates to slack off either. Football is a team game and when just one guy lets up, the entire week of preparation can go right down the tubes.
I’m not much of a reality TV fan. In fact, I didn’t start watching 4th and Long until it was well into its run and had to catch up with previous episodes online. If you’ve never watched it, go do it. If nothing else, you will see a champion who reached that pinnacle at every level of football Irvin played beyond high school. Irvin understands what it takes to win in the game of football. He understands this from his soul.
I realize that the winner of that reality tournament, Jesse Holley, has not become the second coming of Irvin himself. That wasn’t the point of the show. In other words, it wasn’t like Irvin was charged with finding the Cowboys a franchise quarterback.
But after having seen his approach to that collection of long shot receivers and defensive backs on 4th and Long you have to see that the mere idea of having him as a head coach doesn’t sound too bad at all.
Irvin knows that you’re going to have to bleed. You’re going to puke. You’re going to pass out possibly in order to not just earn a job in the NFL, but to be better than your competition. Every team in the NFL has talented players and it’s well known that the difference between the best team and the worst team really isn’t that much at all. There are no beginners at this level.
That brings me to why exactly I thought of tossing this out there. I recently was in a discussion with a friend of mine who believes interim head coach Jason Garrett should be the next head coach. Not having any real concrete reasons for this, as I expected, he eventually offered that Garrett had played for the Cowboys and understood the organization well enough to succeed.
My reply included the fact that Quincy Carter also played for the Cowboys and actually played. Carter, a starting quarterback in Dallas from 2001 to '03 actually got the Cowboys into the playoffs. That obviously does not qualify him to be a head coach.
Allow me to add that Irvin also played for the organization, understands Jerry Jones as well as anybody and simply does not tolerate slackers. Among his first lines of business upon the arrival of Jimmy Johnson in 1989 following his rookie year was to inform Johnson about everybody who was only there for the paycheck.
Changes happened immediately, which they certainly would have with or without Irvin, and thus the purging began. Don’t you think there’s a few guys out at Valley Ranch this season that might also just be there for the paycheck? It seems this could be the case to me.
I have no evidence whatsoever that this is any more of a possibility than Johnson, himself, coming back to coach the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, I certainly would not bet money that this scenario will even be discussed.
Nonetheless, it kind of puts in perspective where exactly the bar seems to be set within the Dallas Cowboys organization with regards to who exactly is going to be placed in charge of the first rebuild since Parcells some eight seasons ago.
So far, the only real credentials that Garrett brings to the table as a head coaching candidate anywhere in the NFL is the fact he was a career backup quarterback. Oh, and they say he's smart. That quality, by itself, does not make a good play caller or a head coach, as we've started to see.
If the choice was mine, I’m taking the Hall Of Fame player with lots of jewelry and a passion index for the game of football that is surpassed by absolutely nobody over the guy from the Ivy League.
I’ll bet 2010 first round draft pick Dez Bryant, another "playmaker" who wears the No. 88, would agree. You can already see that Bryant, a certain T-Rex receiver that has to and should be fed, might grow weary of the Princeton guy with too many toys to play with.
Some people are just winners. Others are simply smart politicians. Can you guess which is which?