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Friday, January 16, 2009
Big changes in Dallas

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

It's been a wild afternoon in NFL coaching circles, and a lot of it involves the Dallas Cowboys. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett flew to St. Louis on Friday night for a second interview with the Rams. As we reported earlier today, owner Jerry Jones won't go out of his way to retain Garrett this time around. When he was offered the Baltimore head-coaching job last year, Jones responded by making him the highest paid assistant in football.

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The Cowboys also fired defensive coordinator Brian Stewart on Friday. The decision was made by Jones, according to club sources. It's further proof that head coach Wade Phillips has very little say at Valley Ranch. Stewart was Phillips' hand-picked defensive coordinator and the two have been close friends since working together in San Diego.

Phillips was ordered by Jones to take over defensive play-calling duties before the Tampa Bay game midway through the 2008 season. Phillips didn't acknowledge that the change had been made until the defense was playing well later in the season.

In his end-of-the-season news conference, Phillips said that Stewart would be back as defensive coordinator. Of course, that's not what happened. Phillips once lost a job in Buffalo because he refused to fire one of his assistants. He wasn't going to let that happen again.

Stewart, who coached with the Texans and Chargers before coming to Dallas in 2007, had the respect of several defensive players, but nose tackle Tank Johnson and outside linebacker Greg Ellis complained about him to Jones.

Now, the Cowboys' owner has some decisions to make. With Garrett and Stewart gone, he could promote from within by choosing receivers coach Ray Sherman and secondary coach Dave Campo to be his new coordinators.

But he could also do something more radical, such as replacing Phillips with Mike Shanahan or Jon Gruden, who was fired today in Tampa Bay. The two biggest priorities at Valley Ranch should be addressing the poor chemistry in the locker room and hiring someone who can get through to quarterback Tony Romo.

It's been suggested that Jones needed to choose between T.O. and Garrett. But I think both of those guys will be gone when the Cowboys open their $1.3 billion stadium this fall.

Now I'm anxious to see what you guys think.