Football

Jason Garrett announces changes to Cowboys defensive coaching staff

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett announced changes to his coaching staff on Wednesday while at the the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett announced changes to his coaching staff on Wednesday while at the the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. AP

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett made the hiring of safeties coach Greg Jackson official and revealed other changes to the coaching staff Wednesday.

Joe Baker will not only replace Jerome Henderson coaching cornerbacks, but he will add the title of secondary coach.

“We made Joe Baker the secondary coach similar to the role that Jerome Henderson had last year, and Greg Jackson is going to be the safeties coach similar to the role that Joe Baker had,” Garrett said.

Henderson was hired as defensive passing game coordinator by the Atlanta Falcons. Garrett announced that he elevated linebackers coach Matt Eberflus to defensive passing game coordinator, a newly created position to manage the back seven, along with his linebacker duties.

“We’re going to make Matt Eberflus our passing game coordinator with an effort to really tie the whole backend together,” Garrett said. “At different parts, times during the day, the linebackers and the secondary guys will meet. Again, working on the coverage part of our defense, and we thought there was some real value to that and the continuity across positions.”

A passing game coordinator is more typical of a title for offensive coaches but teams are now doing it on defense. Eberflus was the logical choice for the Cowboys.

“I think it is. Over the last four or five years, you see some teams doing that and really just kind of allows you to focus on that area,” Garrett said. “Teams do it different ways. We thought having Matt Eberflus being the guy who oversees that backend in regards to the passing game, we thought that would be a good way for our defense to go. It’s been good here over the last couple of weeks.”

Former Cowboys offensive lineman Marc Colombo, who joined the team as a member of the scouting department last year, will take over as assistant offensive line coach under Frank Pollack. Steve Loney will move to a senior offensive assistant role.

Manziel update

Hue Jackson didn’t announce that the Cleveland Browns will release Johnny Manziel next month, but the new coach made it clear the former Texas A&M quarterback won’t be part of the team’s future.

“I think his future on our team will be addressed here pretty soon,” Jackson said. “But let me say this: I think it’s really important, that obviously there were some people involved in this situation that happened, and I feel very bad about those things as they do happen. But I want to make sure we all understand that that behavior will not be tolerated. That’s all I want to say about it. I want to leave it at that.

“Our organization is going to take a stand, and we’re going to move on from those kinds of situations as we move forward.”

The Browns are expected to release Manziel on March 9, the first day of the new league year. Dallas police continue to investigate an alleged assault on his ex-girlfriend, TCU student Colleen Crowley, late last month.

Romo’s decision

Garrett reiterated that no decision has been made about whether Tony Romo will have surgery on his left collarbone. The Cowboys coach said an X-ray after the combine will help determine the quarterback’s course of action.

“We’ll make some decisions about what approach to take with him — whether we’re going to do the Mumford procedure, whether we’re going to put a plate in there or whether we’re going to do nothing,” Garrett said. “I think it’s important for us to see the X-ray, and we’ll make some decisions from there.”

At the Super Bowl earlier this month, Romo said he would make a decision by early March whether to have surgery. He could have a plate surgically inserted to reinforce the collarbone or, more likely, a Mumford procedure to shave the lateral end of the clavicle.

The recovery time from either surgery is six to eight weeks, putting him back for organized team activities in May.

Romo, who turns 36 in April, played only two full games last season. He broke his collarbone in two others during a 10-week span. Romo also fractured his left collarbone in 2010.

Say what?!

An NFL official raised her arms in victory after she announced TCU offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s name, and he confirmed she had pronounced it correctly.

Some NFL coaches have come close, but Vaitai will answer to almost anything.

“Daily. Every day,” he said when asked how often his name is mispronounced. “I’m used to it. You’d be surprised: I even mess up my name.”

Vaitai’s name (pronounced HAL-uh-POO-lih-VAH-tee VIE-tie) was a big part of his almost 13-minute interview with the media at the Scouting Combine on Wednesday.

Signing autographs, he admits, is a pain.

“After awhile, I start writing H Vaitai,” he said.

Vaitai got his given name from his uncle. He drew laughter when he said his twin brothers’ names are Kevin and William. But he wouldn’t trade with them.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s unique.”

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