The Cowboys got bounced from the playoffs in underwhelming fashion yet again, because of course they did. Still, despite Jerry Jones declaring that this was a “very sickening” way to go out, it didn’t feel like fire and brimstone waiting to happen.
After all, the Cowboys won 12 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the end of the Super Bowl era. They won a road playoff game for the first time since 1993, which brought them a round further in the playoffs than they got last year. There’s a nonzero chance they sent Tom Brady into for-realsies retirement so he can finally go hang out with his kids. As we say in the Checklist each week, a lot got accomplished!
Which makes it more than a touch weird to see six assistants get the axe amid both offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn getting head-coaching interviews from other teams.
Here’s the damage:
Two names jump out there. First is senior defensive assistant George Edwards, whose extensive résumé is only the second-most valuable thing on his ledger. The most?
Nobody seems to get this, and for good reason: barring some unexpected, undisclosed conduct issue, it doesn’t seem terribly wise to fire an accomplished staffer beloved by your best player, who happens to be on the fast track toward becoming the best Cowboys defensive player since Bob Lilly. A Luka Doncic corollary applies here: sometimes it’s good business to keep people around who make the fulcrums of your franchise happy.
The second name that jumps out is Skip Peete, the running backs coach whose Dallas tenure coincides with ex-fourth-rounder Tony Pollard blooming into one of the NFL’s most exciting rushers. Even offensive line coach Joe Philbin’s dismissal feels borderline, given the development of young tackles Tyler Smith and Terence Steele plus that unit somehow staying afloat despite another Tyron Smith injury.
So, what do we make of this? Philbin and Rob Davis are longtime Mike McCarthy capos dating back to their time with the Green Bay Packers, which makes it tough to imagine McCarthy being the one who ordered their ouster. And if it’s the people above McCarthy’s paygrade, is Peete taking the fall for Jerry’s great albatross, the Ezekiel Elliot contract, hampering the franchise as Elliott ages poorly, a development people not named Jerral Wayne Jones saw coming?
Here’s what is certain: this is all window dressing. Even if you scan this as the front office sending McCarthy a message about his job security, the head coach is still here. So is Dak Prescott and so is the lack of help currently around Dak Prescott, depending on which you’re more liable to point the finger at (for me, it’s the latter). Same goes for both coordinators, at least for now. And the Jones family damn sure isn’t going anywhere.
So draw conclusions at your leisure. But don’t expect any of these moves to better the 2023-24 team in a meaningful way, no matter how nauseous or angry the guy drawing up the paychecks might be right now.