The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next in late July.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season.
Today, our staff continues the series by discussing which coach on staff has the most challenging job in 2016.
13) Which Cowboys Coach Is Under The Most Pressure In 2016?
Bryan Broaddus:There is no question that Scott Linehan is under the most pressure this season. The vast majority of the difference makers on this squad are on the offensive side of the ball – so expectations should be high. Linehan works with one of the top quarterbacks in the league, an offensive line that most general managers dream about and elite skill players at wide receiver / running back. The lack of talent is not on that side of the ball. The pressure on Linehan coming into this season, will be to generate points to make up for a defense that on paper currently playing with more questions than answers. Linehan cannot afford to waste defensive efforts like we observed in 2015 where games were in the balance but due to a lack of a third-down conversion or missed red zone opportunity, this offense was unable to finish games which they cannot have in 2016. It is going to be an absolute must that Scott Linehan and this offense to carry this team until Rod Marinelli and his staff can get things settled on their side of the ball.
Rob Phillips: Jason Garrett has a press conference every day at training camp and five days a week during the season. He's the face of the team, the one who answers for wins and losses. He and 31 other NFL coaches face more pressure than anybody in the league, plain and simple. Beyond the head coach here in Dallas, I'd say Rod Marinelli has the most challenging job in 2016. The veteran defensive coordinator already knows he's without three starting-caliber players to start regular season. That leaves little wiggle room for injuries in training camp and preseason. For a unit that ranked last in takeaways last year, it's up to Marinelli to patch together a playmaking unit without DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain. Stephen Jones said in June if there's anyone he'd want running the defense in this situation, it's Marinelli. Tony Romo and the running game will have to help him out – not so much from a ball-control standpoint, but building leads for the defense to work with.
David Helman: There's a million different places to cast praise and blame during the ups and downs of a typical football season, but the buck is ultimately going to stop with Jason Garrett – same as it ever has. For the longest time, the Cowboys were marked by Jerry Jones' demanding and impatient attitude toward his coaches, but that hasn't been the case with Garrett. Jones stood by his hire during three successive 8-8 seasons, and it paid dividends with a 12-4 record and a division championship in 2014. Jones never wavered in his belief during the disappointments of 2015, either, as he was sure to point out the injuries that held the Cowboys back from reaching their goals. Throughout this offseason, you've even heard an echo of support, as Cowboys officials have often repeated that they think this 2016 group is closer to the 12-4 squad from two years ago than the 4-12 group from last season. If all of that is true, then it certainly puts a fair amount of pressure on Garrett. There won't be a lot of serviceable excuses if last year's aberration turns into a trend.[embeddedad0]
Nick Eatman: Well, most coaches will say they're all under pressure – from top to bottom. That being said, let's go with Frank Pollack. This offensive line isn't just talented, but now experienced as well. Technically, they have three first-rounders but we all know La'el Collins should've been a first-rounder and after one year, has already flashed that kind of talent. Throw in the anchor of the group, veteran Doug Free, and this very well could be the best unit in football. Only last year, they weren't always playing that way. This group experienced too many penalties, either pre-snap or during the play and weren't as good as they needed to be in the red-zone. The third-and-1 rushing was among the NFL's worst. So if the O-line play doesn't improve this year, it's safe to say some of the blame will fall at the feet of its position coach, Pollack.