FRISCO, Texas -- Jerry Jones wants Dallas Cowboys fans to know he’s upset -- and that 2017 did not go the way he thought it should.
The Cowboys finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
“I’m not dismayed,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, “but I will tell you I’m taken aback that we’re not in these playoffs.”
That comment was made at the end of Jones’ segment on the franchise’s flagship network. Earlier, he reiterated Jason Garrett would be back for his eighth full season as head coach. He also said he would like offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to return.
So are the position coaches the reason why the Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs?
Jones’ affinity for Garrett should be well known by now. He has taken the long view on Garrett’s growth from offensive coordinator to head coach and does not want another team to reap the benefits of what he believes will come.
"It's not even a thought for me,” Jones said on The Fan. “I do like the fact that we've invested, if you will. We've got several years of Jason evolving in this profession in the NFL. There's no question the familiarity with teams that we're playing, especially in our division, is a big plus. You pay a big price when you make a change at the head coach. You pay some price when you make a change at any position coach situation. On the other hand, freshness we're talking about, new ideas, nothing set in stone, that's a plus too. But I think that Jason's in a good spot. We're in a good spot with Jason. He certainly has the mentality of doing things differently. Again not just to be doing them differently, but basically recognizing that we've got some things we do need to do differently. We'll make that happen through our assistant coaches.”
Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, running backs coach Gary Brown, secondary coach Joe Baker, linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, tight ends coach Steve Loney and safeties coach Greg Jackson have expiring contracts.
Retirement is likely for Loney and a possibility for Wilson. Dooley and Brown could have opportunities elsewhere. Eberflus was wanted by at least one team a year ago as a possible coordinator and could be sought after again.
Linehan and Marinelli signed extensions after 2016 season. So did special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who has been linked to possibly joining Jon Gruden in Oakland should Gruden leave the Monday Night Football booth.
Could offensive line coach Frank Pollack be in trouble? He has arguably the best line in football and three Pro Bowlers in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. The Cowboys ran the ball well with and without Ezekiel Elliott. The pass protection was spotty and worse when Smith did not play because of injury. Dak Prescott threw one touchdown pass in the four games in which Smith played three or fewer snaps.
There will be a natural attrition on the coaching staff and on the roster. It happens every year. But is that change enough to spark a team that could not stop teams well enough early and could not score well enough late?
It wouldn’t seem so, but Jones wants you to know this is a team built to win now.
“Now, the word N-O-W is very big,” Jones said on The Fan. “Just by the nature of the rules of the NFL and what we do, then you can’t get it all done now, but now is very important. This defense, we’ve really got it on the come. It’s going to be better. Quarterback. We’ve got a good footprint of what team we want to be with that offensive line, with our running attack. And again we’ve got the quarterback. Let’s just get it coached up, get it out there and give ourselves a chance to be where we’re not right now.”
The Cowboys were built to win in 2017 and didn’t. Without significant change, not natural attrition, how will 2018 be any different?