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Offseason | 2021

Mick Shots: Pulling A Whole Lot Together


FRISCO, Texas – This was inevitable, and for good reason.

The Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy realigning the defensive coaching staff.

About what you'd expect when a defense ranked ninth overall in 2019, 11th against the run and 10th against the pass, and with basically the same personnel, falls to 23rd overall, 31st against the run and 11th against the pass, with the biggest indictment giving up a franchise single-season record 473 points.

New defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn. New defensive line assistant, Aden Durde, with ties to Quinn. New secondary coach, Joe Whitt Jr., with ties to Quinn and McCarthy. Don't rule out an addition at linebacker, too. Speaks volumes of what those in charge have pinpointed as a huge reason for this total collapse from seasons of 13-3, 9-7, 10-6, 8-8 to 6-10, no matter the loss of your starting quarterback, having to play four quarterbacks behind that injury-riddled offensive line.

As would be the norm, heard criticism out there of the Cowboys hiring Quinn, the new defensive coordinator, the former Atlanta Falcons head coach, former Seattle defensive coordinator and long-time defensive line coach. Seemed such an obvious move, bringing in an experienced defensive coordinator who's had success. And let's get over the, well, he got fired as a head coach.

OK, fine. But he wasn't hired as a head coach. He was hired as the defensive coordinator. And I'll say this again: Just because you are a successful coordinator doesn't necessarily portend to becoming a successful head coach.

But how about this little note provided by Albert Greer in this week's edition of _Monday Morning Quarterback_, when talking about new Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer: "Meyer's first swing for a coordinator was going to be at ex-Falcons coach Dan Quinn, but Quinn was scooped up by the Cowboys before Meyer officially took the job in Jacksonville. Sans Quinn, Meyer's spoken with Quinn's ex-assistant and close friend Raheem Morris."

Oh, and that from the highly-respected Meyer who has grown wiser since transitioning from collegiate head coach to TV analyst. Then this, too: Saw where former Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's name had come up as potentially Meyer's offensive coordinator, along with former Cowboys running backs coach and now former L.A. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, though the Jags reportedly hiring Jay Gruden instead.

Man, how the world turns.

  • Dan's The Man: Dan Campbell becomes the sixth former Dallas Cowboys player to become an NFL head coach, the Detroit Lions officially naming the former tight end as their head coach on Wednesday. Campbell, born in Clifton, Texas, went to high school in Glen Rose, Texas, and played his college ball at Texas A&M. He played for the Cowboys from 2003-05 and served as the Dolphins' interim head coach to finish out the 2015 season. How about that? Someone who has never been a coordinator becoming a head coach. The other most prominent former Cowboys players to become NFL coaches are Dan Reeves, Mike Ditka, Jack Del Rio and, of course, Jason Garrett. Two others who spent just one season playing for the Cowboys, Dick Nolan (1962) and Forrest Gregg (1971), also became NFL head coaches.
  • Next Year's Champions: You know, kept hearing references during the Cleveland-Kansas City playoff game that the Browns had not won an NFL playoff matchup on the road since 1969. And I kept thinking, 1969 … 1969 ... of course, it was the Browns eliminating the Cowboys from the playoffs for the second year in a row, Dec. 28, 1969, at the Cotton Bowl, beating them, 38-14, in the Eastern Conference Championship game. And then, after losing the NFL title game in back-to-back seasons to the Green Bay Packers in 1966-67 for the right to go to the Super Bowl, the Browns eliminated the Cowboys in the first Eastern Conference title game of 1968, beating them 31-20 in Cleveland. That led to Cowboys Weekly editor Steve Perkins penning the book Next Year's Champions. True to the unflattering nickname/title, the Cowboys would fall short of winning the newly-minted Super Bowl title five consecutive seasons, losing twice to Green Bay one step away, losing twice to Cleveland two steps away and then after finally getting to Super Bowl V, losing to Baltimore, 16-13. All that before finally winning it all in 1971, beating Miami, 24-3, to claim the Super Bowl VI title, champions at last.
  • One More Stinger: Then there was this when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter of their 32-18 playoff victory over the Rams. This was the first time a Green Bay quarterback had run for a touchdown in a playoff game since … wait for it, wait for it … since Bart Starr's 1-yard QB sneak in the final seconds to win what became known as the "Ice Bowl" in the 1967 NFL title game, 21-17.
  • Honey Badger No More: This Tweet from Tyrann Mathieu made me think back to the 2013 Senior Bowl, just how far the defensive back from LSU has come: Being from New Orleans Drew Brees meant everything to us in that city . . . at many times our only hope, you know to smile & feel good, to live in a winning reality . . . that man gave us all life . . . none of us are perfect but he was close. Salute!! #9Forever @drewbrees. Remember, Mathieu was suspended by LSU head coach Les Miles for the 2012 season for violation of team rules, reportedly for repeated failed drug tests. Mathieu, not eligible to play in the Senior Bowl that year, came to Mobile, Ala., presumably to meet with NFL team representatives. Well, he walks into a downtown restaurant/sports bar where many NFL scouts and execs were watching the NFL conference championship games dressed in baggy/saggy pants, bulky sweatshirt, sun glasses and hat, not exactly dressed for potentially making an impression on folks who just might hire him. Saw former Cowboys running back and then current Green Bay senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith come walking by, sitting with us for a minute, asking him if he saw the "Honey Badger." Highsmith went off on Mathieu, saying he told him, "Look, the Honey Badger is dead, he no longer exists," meaning if you expect to get drafted, better clean up your image. Well, Mathieu was talented enough for the Cardinals to draft him in the third round, and now with Kansas City he has won a Super Bowl and is a victory this Sunday away from returning with the Chiefs. And seems he's all grown up.
  • Some Leftovers: Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards, a highly-respected former defensive coordinator, interviews for that position with the Bears … And glad to see Cowboys former running backs coach Gary Brown, who took last season off while dealing with a serious illness, is expected to interview with Cincinnati for its RB coach position … Not sure Alabama receiver and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith needs to, but has committed to participate in next week's Senior Bowl activity, with one report claiming he will become just the 10th Heisman Trophy winner to do so, including the likes of Bo Jackson, Carson Palmer, Tim Tebow and Baker Mayfield … And for those thinking the Cowboys used to run the ball too much during Jason Garrett's days with the Cowboys, well, how about the Packers running the ball 36 times for 188 yards in that playoff win over the Rams.

And the final word goes to the 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, the former National Youth Poet Laureate who delivered such an impassioned but meaningful poem of healing during President Joseph Biden's inauguration ceremony many of us will never forget, with three former living presidents sitting as a backdrop:

We are striving to forge a union with purpose To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside We lay down our arms so we can reach out our armsto one another We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Enough said.

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