Dallas Cowboys: mike pettine

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 1

July, 11, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • The potential of Tyrone Crawford
  • The potential of the defense overall
  • The potential of Jason Garrett
  • The potential of Sean Lee

Away we go:

@toddarcher: Everybody wants to heap a pile of expectations on Crawford. Jason Hatcher did it. Tony Romo did it. Jerry Jones did it. The coaches have done it. I'm just not ready to say he will have seven or more sacks in 2014. I think if he had five, that would be a good year. Remember, he is coming off a torn Achilles that cost him the 2013 season and he did not have a sack as a rookie in 2012. He was good, solid, dependable, but he never got the quarterback. He had a good spring, but he also expressed some worry that he was still having pain in his leg even if it is considered normal. A five-sack season would be a good way for Crawford to rebound. If he has seven, the Cowboys will be ecstatic. I'm not saying he doesn't have the potential for that kind of season. I just want to see some more evidence before jumping on an already crowded bandwagon.

@toddarcher: Thankfully the fine folks at bloggingtheboys.com have already looked this up. Generally, they do better. Only one team in the past 19 seasons allowed more yards after giving up the most yards in the NFL. Unfortunately that team was the 2008 Detroit Lions coached by Rod Marinelli, who takes over as Cowboys' defensive coordinator. According to BTB, the average improvement is 827 yards from the previous years. Sixteen of those 19 had more wins the following season, which bodes well for the Cowboys. I think the defense will be better in 2014 because it can't be worse. Well, I know it can be worse, but I think Marinelli will make a positive impact. I think you will see the Cowboys go from No. 32 in yards to the Nos. 20-25 range. Call me crazy.

@toddarcher: I'm going to take the new head coaches out of the mix, so no Bill O'Brien, Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden or Mike Pettine. He clearly isn't among the best in the league. I don't think he's the worst either. I've got Jason Garrett as better than Doug Marrone, Gus Bradley, Joe Philbin and Dennis Allen. I think he's better than Jim Caldwell. I think he's better than Marc Trestman. To me, guys like Jeff Fisher and Lovie Smith are overrated, but that is just my opinion. I'd put him in with guys like Ron Rivera, Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt, and, yes, I realize those guys have made the playoffs or a Super Bowl (Whisenhunt). Garrett is in that 18-23 range, to me. Middle of the road. Much like the Cowboys.

@toddarcher: Maybe I'm just being stubborn on this one, but no. Contractually they can't really walk away yet even if they wanted to ... and they don't want to. I realize Lee has had his share of injuries, but he is an impactful player. He has shown too much even with missing so many games. I'm going to take my chances that he will be healthy eventually. I don't doubt he will come back from the torn anterior cruciate ligament. While still a major rehab, it is not as daunting or as uncommon as it was in the past. Lee will do everything he can do be ready. Sometimes this stuff comes down to luck. Maybe all of Lee's bad luck is out of his system and he'll be able to play a full season in 2015 and beyond. I wouldn't want to see him do it elsewhere for another team..

A bright side for Cowboys fans?

February, 11, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- It is difficult for fans of the Dallas Cowboys to feel good about much these days.

I will try to offer up something: At least the Cowboys are not the Cleveland Browns.

It seems 'dysfunction' is not a word the Cowboys can claim exclusively.

For as screwy as the structure at Valley Ranch can seem under owner and general manager Jerry Jones, at least you know it is screwy from the get go.

On Tuesday, the Browns announced CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi have been replaced and named Ray Farmer as general manager. This came after a coaching search that took forever and saw several coaches turn down the job. Even more interesting, Farmer was not in the head coaching interviews that landed Mike Pettine as the replacement for Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after one year. So how secure does that make Pettine feel?

Perhaps Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who interviewed for the Browns’ vacancy that went to Pettine, was able to see some of the Cleveland dysfunction.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said being an owner does not come with a manual and he "underestimated" the job. Jones was an outsider when he purchased the Cowboys in 1989 and worked without a manual, too.

He had some missteps in how he handled the Tom Landry firing, but he got it right by hiring Jimmy Johnson as head coach.

By 1992, the Cowboys won their first of three Super Bowls in Jones' first seven years as owner.

It’s been nothing but .500 football for the Cowboys for more than just the past three seasons. They have two playoff wins since winning Super Bowl XXX.

Jones has made several head-scratching moves over the years and over the past few months. Keeping offensive coordinator Bill Callahan after Scott Linehan was added as passing game coordinator to call the plays is one. So too is inventing a position for demoted defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who is now the assistant head coach/defense.

The one decision just about everybody wants Jones to make -- Hire a football guy, Jerry!!!! -- he will not make.

Jones can look at how Haslam has handled the Browns as an example as to why the Cowboys’ structure works best. Very little happens at Valley Ranch without Jones’s OK.

So as you try to fight through another 8-8 finish and see your team unable to do much in upcoming free agency because of salary-cap trouble, just remember it could be worse. You could be rooting for the Browns.

But don’t look too closely. The Browns had six players in the Pro Bowl, have about $45 million in cap space, according to reports, and have five picks in the top three rounds of the May draft, including two first-rounders.

Maybe things aren’t so bad in Cleveland.

What I think Rob Ryan's firing could mean

January, 8, 2013

Well, it turns out Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasn't just blowing smoke when he said on the radio last week that things were about to get uncomfortable around Valley Ranch. If you're a Cowboys coach right now, you can't be feeling comfortable at all. Running backs coach Skip Peete was let go Monday, and ESPNDallas.com reports that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been fired as well.

Ryan seems like an odd move in some ways. I mean, yes, the Cowboys finished 19th in the league in defense in terms of yards allowed and 24th in terms of points allowed, but they did lose five starters and their nickel cornerback to injury along the way, which is the kind of thing that can generally get a coordinator a break. Hard to really judge Ryan's performance considering he didn't really have his team.

And it remains to be seen what else happens, as there's some chatter in Dallas about the possibility of Jones taking play-calling responsibilities away from head coach Jason Garrett and hiring an offensive coordinator. But assuming Ryan's dismissal turns out to be the Cowboys' biggest offseason change, it could actually signify continued support for Garrett. The reason I say that is because it's a change that doesn't really strike at Garrett's authority over the offense. It allows Jones to make a big, heads-will-roll splash without undermining the coach in whom he's placed and professed so much long-term faith. Heck, it could even allow Garrett to have more input into the hiring of the new defensive coordinator than he had in the hiring of Ryan two years ago (when, it is believed, he preferred Ray Horton).

It could also allow the Cowboys, if they so choose, to switch to a 4-3 defense, which some have suggested might suit their personnel better. Whether they do that or not could depend on which defensive coordinator they hire to replace Ryan. If they hire Lovie Smith, for instance, expect that they're making that switch. If they hire Horton or Mike Pettine or someone like that, that would signify a desire to stay in the 3-4.

So if this is part of a larger slate of firings still to come, all bets are off and everybody's really uncomfortable in Valley Ranch. But if Ryan's firing is the big-splash move to which Jones was alluding when he talked "change" last week, there's a chance it could portend more power for Garrett instead of less. I admit I don't know which way it will go, but as we watch the Cowboys' offseason continue to unfold, it's worth looking for signs of whether Jones is wavering on Garrett or doubling up on his determination to stand behind him and try to make him successful.