In the irrationally impatient world of the NFL, there is no time for growing pains, learning curves or, really, failure.
One day Robert Griffin III is perched to dominate for a decade; the next he is a buried backup prepared to be cut. One day Wade Phillips leads his team to its first playoff win in 14 years; but 10 months later is fired. One day Cam Newton is the best, most fun-lovin’ player to ever lace up a pair of cleats; now he’s a sulking, selfish, spoiled loser. One day Chip Kelly is going to revolutionize offensive football but now … you get the picture.
The football train waits for no one. Except, that is, the Dallas Cowboys.
In a knee-jerky climate where head coaches are casually canned for mediocrity, status quo reigns at Valley Ranch. Jason Garrett’s team went 4-12 last season and will apparently make one small tweak to its coaching staff.
In San Francisco, meanwhile, the 49ers won one more game – 5-11 – and fired head coach Jim Tomsula … after one season.
I’m not necessarily criticizing owner Jerry Jones for his unique handling of his staff. We ripped him for the premature canning of Chan Gailey and for not developing staying power with Jimmy Johnson, so I’m not advocating Garrett’s departure. Just pointing out how rare it is for NFL team’s coming off 4-win disasters to basically shrug, tweak and head into the next season with essentially the same personnel.
Obviously a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant make Garrett more like the 12-win coach he was in 2014 than the 12-loss coach he was in 2015. But even if you preach patience, the lack of changes on the Cowboys’ coaching staff is a tad alarming.
Jones said he had “no thought” of firing Garrett and after 2014’s success top coordinators Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan, there weren’t a lot of obvious choices. But this team underachieved last season and the inability to win close games without Romo under center was appalling.
Nonetheless, six assistant coaches had their contracts expire after the season and, so far, only two have departed. Secondary coach Jerome Henderson was hired by the Falcons and replaced this week by former Michigan defensive backs coach Greg Jackson. And offensive assistant Kevin Carberry left for the Redskins. From the lack of production from Brandon Carr to the glaring void of development from Morris Claiborne, Henderson’s loss should be minimal. Perhaps even positive.
But in a game of risk where teams are constantly shuffling the deck, the Cowboys are calmly playing the same hand they’ve been dealt.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.