The Dallas Cowboys made several key staff changes a year ago. Jerry Jones wants to give them another year to work.
The Cowboys’ owner and general manager said Monday at the Senior Bowl he does not feel as great a need to make changes this year.
“It’s just the fact that you made a lot last year probably minimizes the need to make them this year,” Jones said.
He said he liked the job offensive coordinator Bill Callahan did as play-caller, a move Jones announced at this time in Mobile a year ago, and that another year of experience in Monte Kiffin’s system and perhaps better health will improve the defense.
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Of Callahan, Jones said, “I thought he did — under all of the circumstances that we worked with there — I thought he did a good job.”
Kiffin got similar praise from Jones, and Jones said the organization can do a better job of helping Kiffin with players right now than it could during the season when the injuries hit.
“There’s more players that we can put on the field, potentially, out there,” Jones said. “There’s draft picks, there’s free agents — and you don’t have that available to you once you’ve gotten to the season, and that’s when we had a lot of our damage — in training camp, in-season. You’ve already done the draft; you can’t address it there. You’ve just got more options now than you did at the start of the season.”
Under Callahan, the Cowboys had their worst offensive season with Tony Romo at quarterback (5,458 yards, which ranked 16th in the league), and their third-down percentage of 35.0 was their worst since 2002.
But the Cowboys’ had their best red-zone percentage (68.6) since at least 1998, and their 20 turnovers were their second-fewest in the past 14 seasons, beaten only by the 19 from 2009. Additionally, left tackle Tyron Smith became an All-Pro player, and running back DeMarco Murray broke the franchise’s six-year string without a 1,000-yard rusher.
Callahan said he knew of no changes in his role.
“You’d have to ask [head coach] Jason [Garrett] about that,” he said.
Kiffin also said he knew of no changes and that he’s been “watching tape and cut-ups” since the season ended.
Kiffin, hired a year ago to replace Rob Ryan, presided over one of the worst performances in NFL history. The Cowboys allowed 6,645 yards in 2013, trailing only the 2012 New Orleans Saints and the 1981 Colts for yards allowed in a season. They also gave up 388 first downs, second-most in league history, and an NFL-record 40 in a game against the Saints.
Jones said he didn’t have to convince anyone in the organization to give Kiffin another chance.
“Do you discuss and get input about a lot of things? Absolutely,” he said. “But what we did not do is have a big debate or a big management session regarding Monte Kiffin. We didn’t do that. That decision was made last year.”
Jones said part of the problem on defense was that some players simply didn’t play up to standards.
“We saw some guys that made some improvements across the board — I wouldn’t be specific — but then I saw some guys that basically didn’t play up to our expectation,” he said.
Jones said he doesn’t want to give up too soon on the changes he made a year ago and then regret it.
“We all know the adage of the gold miner who walked away and the other one who took one more swing with the pick and found the gold streak, and so you don’t want to quit,” Jones said. “So it’s easier said than done to let your mistakes go short and your good decisions long.”
The Cowboys are in Mobile until Wednesday. Garrett said he would talk to reporters on Tuesday.