In the world of NFL coaching, credentials will take you a long way, but so will connections. On every staff in the league, guys are hired based on past relationships they've developed with other coaches aleady in the fold.
When Rob Ryan was hired as Cowboys defensive coordinator last year, for instance, he brought linebackers coach Matt Eberflus with him from Cleveland. A year later, the team added secondary coach Jerome Henderson, another former Ryan cohort.
It's not that Henderson's experience isn't enough to get him hired by just about any team in the league, but it's fair to say he wound up in Dallas in large part because Ryan wanted a guy with whom he was comfortable working.
Likewise, it was probably a blend of background and connections that sold the Cowboys on the newest member of the staff, Joe Baker.
The assistant defensive backs coach has a résumé that perfectly qualifies him to run a secondary all on his own, if not a whole defense. Typically, assistant position coaches are younger, up-and-coming guys, like Wes Phillips, the Cowboys' 32-year-old assistant offensive line coach, who only got the promotion from a quality control job last year.
Baker, though, has 16 years of NFL experience with six teams, which would suggest he might be overqualified to simply assist Henderson. That would have a lot to do with him being the Cowboys' choice, but his background with Jason Garrett doesn't hurt, either. The two played together at Princeton in the late '80s.
There's long been speculation that Ryan will eventually get a head coaching job, and he isn't bashful about openly campaigning for himself. If and when he gets that chance, it's fairly predictable that he'll at least want to bring Eberflus and Henderson with him.
Perhaps Baker's presence on staff is meant to give the Cowboys a fallback plan for their secondary in the coming years.