Jerry Jones gets to work on fixing Cowboys
IRVING, Texas – A 10-pack of Dallas Cowboys mini-scoops from inside Valley Ranch, where the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is creating a ripple effect on other moves:
1. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, I'm told, assembled a "short list'' of desirable Ryan replacements before the Tuesday dismissal of the high-profile coordinator. If the Cowboys get their wish, the hire will be a "dynamic'' one, a source said.
Logical first-tier candidates that fit such a profile include Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton (presently interviewing for head-coaching jobs), ousted Bears coach Lovie Smith (also a candidate for other top jobs) and ousted Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel.
2. Horton runs a 3-4 (as Dallas presently does) and coach Jason Garrett attempted to hire him as the Cowboys secondary coach two years ago. Crennel runs a 3-4 and has ties with Jones "unofficial consultant'' Bill Parcells. Smith, a Texas native, runs a 4-3 – possibly part of Garrett's stated plan to change the "defensive philosophy. And interestingly, a Valley Ranch voice tells me that Jones might be likely to want to pair a more veteran coordinator with the youngish Garrett.
Smith qualifies as "dynamic'' in terms of his resume.
3. I'm told Jones' private plane left Dallas early Tuesday. As the Cowboys try to move quickly on their next move, that jet being sent to bring a job candidate to Dallas seems highly possible.
Or, heck, somebody with the keys to the plane wants to visit the beach.
4. Speaking of transportation: Garrett's Valley Ranch parking spot has been vacant for most of the last two days. This might drive outsiders to believe that Garrett's job is in danger (why some continue to connect Jon Gruden's name to the Cowboys I do not know). But indications are Garrett is simply conducting much of his business away from the office.
Having said that … Jones' promise that Cowboys headquarters would be "uncomfortable'' for a few weeks and months is, right now, uncomfortable for everyone.
5. Running backs coach Skip Peete is out. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, I'm told, can likely plan on returning. Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo both value him as a sounding board. This does not solve the issue of offensive play-caller, a job Garrett would like to retain even as he tells me change there is "on the table.''
Garrett's brother, John, is the tight ends coach and also a trusted lieutenant of the head coach. The owner must help decide if that lieutenant is properly placed inside the organization.
And one more hotseat: Cowboys special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis is on the one hand interviewing for the Bears head-coaching job (he's got a connection with the Chicago GM) and is on the other hand being evaluated by his superiors in Dallas. If there is a change there, an intriguing name would be fired Raiders special-teams boss Steve Hoffman, long-ago lauded at Valley Ranch for his work as the NFL's first-ever kicking coach.
6. There are no indications that Norv Turner is a realistic hire at this point. Fully utilizing staffer Bill Callahan, who holds the "offensive coordinator'' title but is in many ways actually the "running-game coordinator,'' is an option.
7. Callahan, by the way, likely has aspirations to fully run his own offense … someday and somewhere. That fact opens up the possibility of Garrett hiring a new right-hand man here.
8. More names worth mentioning as defensive coordinator candidates include Eric Mangini, Dave Wannstedt, Rod Marinelli, Mike Singletary and Monte Kiffin.
But the aforementioned Horton, Crennel and Smith have something else all those guys do not have: established defensive staffs they can bring with them from their previous stops. The Dallas defensive staff is presently dotted with "Ryan guys.'' It is standard-operating procedure to allow them to begin searching for new jobs. Quality assistants in this position might include Matt Eberflus, Jerome Henderson and Ben Bloom.
The always vocal Ryan responded to the firing by saying he'd quickly get another job. That may be so, but a close source to Ryan tells me today that his next job might not be as a coordinator, but rather as a position coach. And if that's the case, Ryan's "guys'' are less likely to catch on with him in his next stop.
9. A tricky deal under Jones' leadership ever since Barry Switzer took over for Jimmy Johnson in 1994: How coaches follow logically (in their hiring and sometimes in their duties). The Cowboys face a similar situation now. Jones would be wise to have Garrett deeply involved in who works under him as the coordinator, and that coordinator should be deeply involved in who works under him. The present circumstance allows Jones to repair an organizational chart that's long been broken.
10. There are arguable reasons to switch defensive styles. But many are jumping the gun here. As proof: The Cowboys personnel department has not been instructed to start scouting for the college draft based on any such change.
So the philosophical shift will come in conjunction with the hiring of the new defensive coordinator. And in part because of how quickly other teams making changes will try to assemble their staffs, Dallas will move quickly here, too.
So quickly that Jerry Jones' plane may be landing back in Dallas any time now …