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17 Dallas Cowboys 2011 Head Coach Candidates: Grades and Odds

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Jonathan Bales and Justin Shoemaker

There have been a number of names which have been thrown around as head coach candidates for the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, from inexperienced (in terms of head coaching jobs, that is) coordinators such as Perry Fewell and Leslie Frazier to the old vets like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden.

Below are 17 of those coaches, with pros and cons listed for each (as determined by both myself and DC Times part-time correspondent Justin Shoemaker).  Also listed are grades for each coach and the likelihood he ends up in Dallas.  Note that each coach is graded not simply on his skill as a coach, but on how he would fit into Big D.  The odds are based on the assumption that one of the 17 candidates listed below will win the job.

Jon Gruden

  • Pros

Vast experience coaching quarterbacks
Proven winner
Experience with “hands-on” owner in Al Davis
Has recently familiarized himself with spread offense, Wildcat, and other innovative offensive schemes

  • Cons

Upside?
Inherited Tony Dungy’s Super Bowl-winning team

  • Jonathan’s Grade: C-
  • Justin’s Grade:  B
  • Odds:  12/100 — Will Gruden leave the booth for the sideline?

Bob Stoops

  • Pros

Big-time success at Oklahoma
Experience dealing with young players/egos

  • Cons

No NFL experience (his staff would likely be inexperienced as well)
Poor bowl game resume

  • Jonathan’s Grade:  C+
  • Justin’s Grade:  B+
  • Odds: 1/100 –Excellent coach, but will he want to leave the security of Oklahoma?

Jim Harbaugh

  • Pros

Great NFL connections; could build NFL-ready staff
Played big-time football so can relate to players
Brings unmatched intensity

  • Cons

Not much head coaching experience
Style may be better-suited for college players than millionaires
Too comfortable at Stanford?

  • Jonathan’s Grade:  C-
  • Justin’s Grade:  C
  • Odds: 1/100 — See Bob Stoops.

Perry Fewell

  • Pros

Experience in a variety of defensive schemes
Would implement aggressive defense which Cowboys lack

  • Cons

Only experience as a head coach on interim basis
A “players’ coach” whose style might be a poor fit in Dallas

  • Jonathan’s Grade: B+
  • Justin’s Grade:  B
  • Odds: 7/100 — There have been minor rumors of Fewell being on Dallas’ short list of coaching candidates.

Bill Cowher

  • Pros

Years of experience/proven winner
Alpha-dog style could be perfect for current Cowboys team

  • Cons

Will want to control personnel (personnel decision history average at best)
Stuck in old school ways?

  • Jonathan’s Grade: D+
  • Justin’s Grade:  C
  • Odds: 10/100 — Others might see him as the favorite, but I think he’ll want too much control.

Leslie Frazier

  • Pros

Young defensive coordinator with huge upside
Proven success at running defenses

  • Cons

No head coaching experience
Runs a 4-3 defense; will Dallas make the switch?

  • Jonathan’s Grade: B-
  • Justin’s Grade:  B+
  • Odds: 2/100 — Awesome candidate, but 4-3 defense probably not a good fit with Dallas’ current personnel

Gregg Williams

  • Pros

Extremely aggressive defensive coordinator with proven success at creating turnovers
Seems to be stickler for details

  • Cons

Failed as head coach in Buffalo and passed over in Washintgon
Runs a 4-3 defense

  • Jonathan’s Grade:  B-
  • Justin’s Grade:  C
  • Odds: 1/100 — If experience is what Jerry Jones wants, there are better candidates.

Jason Garrett

  • Pros

Attention to detail
Players already know system
Aggressive, somewhat new-school approach

  • Cons

Still problems as OC, including predictability in play-calling
Lack of experience/poor clock management skills?

  • Jonathan’s Grade:  B+
  • Justin’s Grade:  B+
  • Odds:  35/100 — I don’t think Jones will want to make a change unless absolutely necessary, particularly with the current labor situation.

Marty Schottenheimer

  • Pros

200-126 career record is superb
Fiery head coach who will run a disciplined team

  • Cons

Only 5-13 in playoffs, zero Championships
“Marty ball” (i.e. three yards and a cloud of dust) is dead

  • Jonathan’s Grade:  C-
  • Justin’s Grade:  D
  • Odds: 2/100 — Regular season record was surprising to me, but is he just another Wade Phillips?

Rob Ryan

  • Pros

Confident to the point of being cocky/players like but respect him
Tremendous family history coaching defenses

  • Cons

No head coaching experience at any level
Who will run the offense?

  • Jonathan’s Grade: B-
  • Justin’s Grade:  C
  • Odds: 2/100 — Ryan possesses the attitude that Jones covets, but what separates him from the other coordinators?

John Fox

  • Pros

Doesn’t interfere with personnel decisions
Took Jake Delhomme-led team to Super Bowl
Friends with the Jones family

  • Cons

Little success of late
Old-school approach doesn’t fit with current state of NFL/Cowboys

  • Jonathan’s Grade: D-
  • Justin’s Grade:  D
  • Odds: 9/100 — Justin and I don’t like Fox at all, but he is friends with the Jones family.

Norv Turner

  • Pros

Excellent with quarterbacks
Should be able to resurrect running game

  • Cons

Only 92-101 in head coaching career/4-4 in playoffs
Little upside
Team may still be undisciplined

  • Jonathan’s Grade: D+
  • Justin’s Grade:  C-
  • Odds: 4/100 — Norv Turner’s chances of coaching in Dallas seem to have passed a few years ago.

Urban Meyer

  • Pros

Extremely innovative, cutting-edge offensive mind
Incredible success at college level

  • Cons

No NFL experience
Health?

  • Jonathan’s Grade: A-
  • Justin’s Grade:  C+
  • Odds: 1/100 — This is a complete shot in the dark.

Nick Saban

  • Pros

Well-established history of success in college
Already runs NFL-style schemes at Alabama
Players would be held accountable

  • Cons

15-17 in NFL/left Dolphins in classless way

  • Jonathan’s Grade: B-
  • Justin’s Grade:  B
  • Odds: 8/100 — There have already been rumors that Jones flew to Alabama to meet with Saban.

Ron Rivera

  • Pros

Runs a 3-4 defense
“Down to business” personality

  • Cons

Too much like Wade Phillips (as far as scheme)?
No head coaching experience

  • Jonathan’s Grade: C-
  • Justin’s Grade:  C+
  • Odds: 1/100 — Rivera possesses neither the star power nor the experience to be considered a serious candidate.

Brian Billick

  • Pros

Super Bowl winner

  • Cons

“Offensive guru” without much of a history of success on offense
Way too conservative

  • Jonathan’s Grade: D-
  • Justin’s Grade:  B-
  • Odds: 2/100 — Billick may have been on the Cowboys’ short list a few years ago, but I don’t think he is worth their time.

Dom Capers

  • Pros

“Fixed” Green Bay’s defense with his aggressive 3-4 scheme
Unique, innovative blitz packages and overall philosophy

  • Cons

Horrid 48-80 career record as head coach
One career playoff win

  • Jonathan’s Grade: D+
  • Justin’s Grade:  D
  • Odds: 1/100 — Capers’ ship has likely sailed.

Tony Dungy

  • Pros

Proven winner
Players love to play for him

  • Cons

Anything but fiery
Defensive scheme radically different from Dallas’ current defense

  • Jonathan’s Grade: B-
  • Justin’s Grade:  B-
  • Odds: 1/100 — Dungy simply doesn’t seem likely to come out of retirement.

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16 Responses to 17 Dallas Cowboys 2011 Head Coach Candidates: Grades and Odds

  1. DeeJay says:

    Lol at having John fox at D- and the college coaches higher WOW that’s pretty pathetic you like them more then a coach with experience.

  2. Arturo says:

    As long as Jerry Jones is the GM in Dallas all the head coaches under him will be puppets. He will go to the field when ever he wants. He will make bad picks in the draft, bad trades, and bad free agent pick ups. Jerry will not listen to what the Cowboys Fans want because he can’t admit he’s wrong. From 96-2010 under Jerry being the GM he has only one playoff win to show for it. Jimmy Johnson was 7-1 from 91-93. That just goes to show you who is a real coach. I would take Bill Cowher because of his experiance. Gruden inherited a super bowl caliber team from Dungy. Garret is a bust since he joined the Cowboys. Sean Payton was the man to keep.

  3. john coleman says:

    I’m not high on any of the names I’ve heard so far. Not just here but anywhere. If I was grading from the list above so far it would be Garrett, Harbaugh, then Billick. I have never been more suprised by anyone than Garrett. It’s not about winning a game either. I like the way he handles himself in the press conferences. He just takes charge and seems focused. The fact that the players responded strengthens his case. Now if we go winless and look bad doing it from here out, I may change my mind. I may also be off base but I’m thinking we are seeing some Jimmy Johnson things that were instilled in his playing days. Harbaugh would be my front runner from the college ranks and I really don’t even remotely like any of the rest from college. Billick has won a superbowl, without a QB. He also had one of the best front offices who failed to get a QB. JJ will get the players. Let me point out on Grudens behalf that he was robbed of his due by the empty hand. The only concern with him is that he lost the team in Tampa. I do think he is a great offensive mind. Fox scares me for his judgement on signing Jake the last time and for not putting a quality receiver alongside Smith. IMO it’s Garrett’s to win or lose. I need to see good effort, intensity, and discipline the rest of the year. Wins are a bonus. I had already come to terms with a terrible season and was looking for a high draft pick.

  4. Mark Watkins says:

    I agree with John. I love the way JG handles himself in interviews and press conferences. He seems like a guy that is totally on top of things and commands respect, frankly a complete 180 from Wade. Many of the players bemoaned the firing of Wade, but they sure seemed to step up and play hard for JG. I’m not sold on any of those big names. I was at first, but I really want JG to get this job long term (and I said that before his first game). I read an article by Mickey Spagnola that I believe that no coach has won a Super Bowl with two different teams. Is that true or did I read that wrong. Anyway, if they did hire one of those experienced coaches, I would prefer it to be Cowher, but I just don’t see him meshing with Jerrah. Definitely not Fox, Schottenheimer or Turner! Turner is Wade all over again. Harbaugh is interesting if JG doesn’t get it.

  5. moses says:

    Not big on Garrett.
    We have seen what he has done with the offense when they were struggling. Many of the mistakes and problems were on the offensive side of the ball.

    Barron bear hugging on the last play against the Redskins. The toss to Choice that ended up as a fumble for a touchdown. The countless fumbles and interceptions.

    Overall, it is the inability for him to get his side of the ball ready to play. He has shown us what he can do and it is not very good.

    The entire 2-7 season shows him to be a poor motivator of players. He tolerates stupid mistakes and turnovers.

    I cannot think of a single time where a GM has selected an offensive or defensive coordinator that consistently tolerates poor play, mental mistakes and turnovers. The contrary is true. Many look for coordinators that put a squad on the team that is disciplined and get the most out of the players

  6. piscean king says:

    Moses your so negative….JG got this and he will be our head coach and ur will win us some super bowls. He’s gonna be that stability that Tom Laundry had and brought to the team

  7. john coleman says:

    moses-I see your point and I was on your side of the argument. However when Garrett became the man things changed instantly. He was accepting his role as the o coordinator and suporting his head coach. It’s obvious that he doesn’t believe in Wade’s no full pads philosophy and is much more demanding. It was head coach Wade and his WAY that caused a lack of physicality on the oline too. At least give him the rest of the season, before saying he is terrible. If things continue to go well we will know that what I have just said is true.

  8. DeeJay–Steve Spurrier has NFL experience. Is he a better option than a young gun with such high upside?

    Arturo–I disagree. JJ simply wants to win, and sometimes he brings in strong-minded HCs (Jimmy, Parcells). And as far as listening to the fans. . .why would you WANT him to do that? It isn’t a GM’s job to listen to what fans think is best AT ALL. That’s a good way to screw up an organization.

    John–JG is growing on me too, big-time (as you can see in my grade). I love his approach and “take charge” attitude, as you pointed out. I wouldn’t mind Harbaugh, but I don’t like Billick. It just seems his teams won in spite of him, not because of him.

  9. Mark–Agree. . .no Fox, Schott, or Turner! Too old-school. I too am rooting for JG. I love what he’s done so far and I know he takes a stat-oriented approach. He’s really improving as an OC (despite the lack of success early in the year). Plus, players don’t have to LIKE a coach, they just need to respect him. I know players loved Wade, but did they fully respect him? I trust that JG has the intelligence to get it done. The players aren’t dumb and they see that too.

  10. Moses–I understand your thoughts, but what’s most important to me is that JG is improving. He’s definitely done that, and I love the “new side” of him we are seeing since he took over full control. I want to see more of how he conducts himself without Wade. The next few weeks will be telling. . .let’s reassess him then.

  11. starred4life says:

    I disagree with your assessment of Schottenheimer. He took a team with Elvis Grbac to a number one seed in the AFC (sure they lost to the Broncos in the playoffs by four, but that year Denver won it all).

    They also rode a number one seed to another playoff loss to the Colts, they lost the game by three points (but their kicker missed three field goals).

    Marty took the Browns to the number one seed in the AFC (and lost on “the drive”).
    He’s taken every team he’s had to a number one seed (at least once) except the Redskins.

  12. Landon says:

    Can we put this Dungy stuff to bed? Unless he is bringing: A) Peyton Manning, B) Monty Kiffin and C) an explanation for saying we had no chance to beat NO last year, then he can stay in the booth. If we wanted to hire a motivational speaker we could have gotten Tony Robbins or Mike Singletary. We need a coach who knows about X’s and O’s.

  13. Starred–I will admit I was a bit surprised at his impressive regular season record…I presume he was closer to a .500 guy. Still, I’m not sure if his old-school approach (in terms of schemes) will be effective in today’s spread-it-out game.

    Landon–Perhaps he is bringing Manning? I’m sure he could talk the Colts out of keeping him. . .

  14. john coleman says:

    I’m not sure if Schottenheimer’s approach would work in Dallas, but there is no doubting he is a great coach. He built the current San Diego team minus the players they have run off or given away. He even had the Redskins to .500. I’m not saying, get him, but I wouldn’t be upset. Three yards and a cloud of dust ain’t always bad. While I’m at this let me add that Cowher’s talent evalluation skills are suspect to me. I’m going to stay on the Garrett bandwagon until he wrecks it.

  15. craig says:

    Chris peterson would be my first choice

  16. Wouldn’t mind that at all.

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