Change is common among coaching staffs.
A successful team is in a position where other teams will try and poach their top assistants, while struggling teams typically make moves to improve.
Well, for the first time under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys find themselves in the former position where teams are targeting their assistants. That’s because Rod Marinelli worked his magic with a defense that played better than expected, and Scott Linehan handled the play-calling duties well as the Cowboys went 12-4 and won the NFC East title.
And don’t forget about Bill Callahan, who has been critical in the development of one of the top offensive lines in the game even after being stripped of his play-calling duties last season.
But the Cowboys have expressed a desire to keep the coaching staff together and are showing signs of being able to accomplish that early on in their offseason plans.
Garrett and the Cowboys have agreed to a five-year extension, and Marinelli is close to an extension as well. Linehan and the Cowboys are also discussing an extension, and it’s unclear where things stand with Callahan. The Cowboys have an exclusive negotiating window with them through Wednesday.
“I really believe that we’ve built something here that we’re all proud of and we’re all excited about taking the next step with this football team,” Garrett said at his season-ending news conference Tuesday.
“I think we have the right kind of guys on our staff, the right kind of guys on our team and we’re excited about the opportunities and the challenges ahead. There is a business part to this profession. Over the next couple of days, we’ll try to resolve some things with our staff. But we’re excited about what the future is for this football team, the team we’ve put together.”
Until now, the Cowboys’ coaching staff has been under seemingly endless change since Garrett took over in November 2010 for Wade Phillips.
Offensively, Garrett retained his play-calling duties for the final eight games in 2010, and again in 2011 and 2012. He didn’t relinquish those duties until the 2013 season when the organization hired Callahan.
Callahan was then stripped of the play-calling duties prior to this season, as the team brought in Linehan to handle that role. Linehan excelled in that role this season, as DeMarco Murray set the franchise’s single-season rushing record and Tony Romo had an MVP-caliber season.
Garrett praised both Linehan and Callahan on Tuesday. Callahan is in an interesting spot, though, because he wanted to go somewhere where he could be the play-caller last offseason but the Cowboys prevented him.
There’s been just as much change on the defensive side of the ball. Paul Pasqualoni was promoted to defensive coordinator when Garrett took over in the middle of 2010, and then Rob Ryan served two seasons in that role in the 2011-12 seasons.
The Cowboys fired Ryan, citing lack of takeaways, and brought in Monte Kiffin for the 2013 season. However, the Cowboys had the third-worst defense in history last year, forcing them to make another change to Marinelli this season.
Marinelli worked his magic with a group that largely exceeded expectations, ranking 19th in total defense.
Keeping the staff together, as stated, is among the top priorities for the Cowboys.
“It’s important to try to have systems of offense, defense and kicking game in place, stuff that we believe in, stuff that we can improve upon,” Garrett said. “I think that’s an important piece of the puzzle.”