If firing a position coach is how you make things uncomfortable around Valley Ranch, then things just got uncomfortable.
Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegramwas the first to report Monday that the Cowboys have decided to part ways with running backs coach Skip Peete, who has been with the team since 2007. It's the first move to surface since Jerry Jones promised changes to the 8-8 team during a radio interview last week.
The reasons for this move are pretty easy to understand. The Cowboys had their lowest rushing output since the NFL moved to 16-game seasons in 2012 and DeMarco Murray had the least yards for the team's leading rusher in 23 years, numbers that don't speak well of any offensive coach but cast particularly negative light on the running backs coach.
Despite those results, Hill reports that Peete was surprised to be relieved of duty. This is also easy to understand. Murray missed a big chunk of the season, the offensive line was a mess from the first day of the season and Peete isn't the guy responsible for calling the plays. The Cowboys didn't run the ball much, which makes raw yardage a pretty specious way to point out their failings.
But there were failings and, frankly, the running back play has been poor for several years. Felix Jones has never developed into a reliable back in any role and assorted other prospects (Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar were this year's entries) have failed to progress into useful parts of the offensive mix.
It's perfectly fair to pin that on Peete while trying to find a coach who could have more success helping to grow that part of the offense. The extenuating circumstances of the situation contributed to the poor outcome, but it's clear that the process hasn't been working for the Cowboys running game either.
Stopping with Peete wouldn't be fair, however. Just leaving things to offense for the time being, there are other obvious weaknesses that need to be addressed. We mentioned two already with the line and play calling, with the latter increasingly looking like the team's best opportunity to make a significant change without firing Jason Garrett or hiring an actual general manager.
It's not enough to just blame the guys carrying out the orders. There has to be accountability for the guys giving them and adding a real offensive coordinator would be the most meaningful way to do that without upsetting the entire apple cart.