Six qualities the next Cowboys head coach HAS …

Joey

December 10th

The Cowboys have fallen to 6-7 which means in so many words, the future of Jason Garrett has already been decided. This team has given up on him, the front office has fallen out of love with someone they consider the equivalent of a family member and now they’re preparing for the first real coaching staff in close to fifteen years. The Cowboys are already linked to a variety of names (Urban Meyer, Tony Elliott, Lincoln Riley, Josh McDaniels and Ron Rivera) and you’d assume that plenty of rocks will be turned and names will be surfaced. We’ll have plenty of time to break down names and resumes. Instead I wanted to take a look at the six things the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys will HAVE to have in order to be successful.

1- A defined coaching role

“What do you do?” has been a question asked about Jason Garrett quite recently and it’s a question he seems incapable of answering adequately. The Cowboys promoted Jason Garrett because he was deemed to be an offensive guru who would hold men accountable and unite the locker room. The problem is he struggled with in game decision making and the Cowboys brass deemed that to be a function of Garrett being so caught up in the day to day running of the offense. As such the Cowboys made Garrett a “walk around coach”, almost like a CEO overseer of sorts. That hasn’t QUITE helped the cause any as Jason Garrett has continued to make gaffes and “What do you really do?” continues to be a running question in Cowboys land. If you’re not good enough to be both a coordinator and a head coach and if you don’t poke your influence in on any of the teams and if you’re the walk around coach who seems incapable of making adjustments then what do you do? That can’t be a question with the next guy. The next Cowboys head coach needs to be able to tell us what he does on a week to week basis. If he’s an offensive mastermind, he better be able to call plays. If he’s a defensive guru, he better have a hand in gameplanning and facilitating. If he’s a walk around coach, he better be a master at in game adjustments and have an expert level feel for the game. I think the next head coach needs to give the “walk around CEO” gimmick a rest.

2- Adaptability

Every coach on the face of the Earth has a scheme and a prototype for what they want. I’m not asking the next coach to abandon his principles and have no semblance of a philosophy. That said, this team has clearly had a make and model that’s unbreakeable for far too long. With this coaching staff if a player doesn’t fit into a set mold (Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer, defensive ends under 6’2) then they wouldn’t give them the time of day. That’s just not how a successful franchise can be run. The next coach needs to be adaptable and willing to make exceptions to the rules. If a good player doesn’t fit then modify it so you can get a fit. Got a corner who is a bit too small to be your usual #2 corner? Wide receivers smaller than you’d like? Find ways to maximize their skill sets by getting them into space. Tight ends who can’t block? Stop trying to run with them on the field and use them as passing weapons. Adapt the scheme to help the players you have because chances are you won’t always be able to find the guys you protoypically want and you’ll HAVE to win with a spare piece of two. To steal a quote from potential Cowboys candidate Urban Meyer? This is a league won by players with assists from the coaches. It is not a league won by coaches. Long story short, this next coach needs to be able to put his ego aside and work with what he’s given. Rigidity has exposed Jason Garrett (and by extension Kris Richard as well) to the point where his job is in peril.

3- An aggressive mentality

A lot of Cowboys fans lament the lack of creativity this team has and we’ll talk about that in a minute. My bigger problem isn’t a perceived lack of creativity but an obvious and readily apparent lack of aggression. The Cowboys have a team philosophy that if they do what they do and if they can do it perfectly and don’t make a mistake then they’ll win no matter who their opponent is. One of the words you’ll often hear and one of the words that Cowboys fan have a visceral reaction to is “execution” and how annoying it is. Sometimes certain situations require you to do more than just execute; they require you to take risks and accept the responsibility of finding ways to win. That means being more willing to go for it on 4th down, a willingness to get creative with fakes on special teams, blitzing more and finding unique ways to keep the pressure on the defense. The Cowboys under Jason Garrett have historically shelled up a) on the road and b) against good teams. The next coach has to be willing to embrace the risks required to win big games.

4- An embrace of in game analytics

There’s a misnomer that the Cowboys don’t like analytics. It’s false. The Cowboys have an analytics department. Their entire injury prevention program is rooted in analytics which dictate who practices when and for how long and in what capacity. Their drafting philosophy is a combination of old school scouting and analytical data. They value analytics, so much so in fact that they were hiring people as of this year to fill spots in their analytics department. What the Cowboys lack apparently is a respect for in game probability based analytics. Jason Garrett admitted as much that WPA is not used on the sidelines. Coaching in the NFL is the toughest spot in all of pro sports and so why wouldn’t you want in game analytics? Something to maybe help your decision making process? I don’t need the next head coach to make every decision off of a spreadsheet but I do think he needs to at least accept the possibility that the numbers DO help along the way. Why be stubborn to what can help you win games? Even if your decision is to never use the analytics during the game, a complete ignorance to them is unacceptable. The next coach needs to be more flexible when it comes to data.

5- Savvy

This is a tremendously harsh media market. Most of the Cowboys media are the same dudes who roasted the team when they won Super Bowls. They challenge the coaches and the players. They’re ultra aggressive about the team they cover and they can wear on folks. The expectations of the fanbase are usually distorted. It requires a unique level of savvy to pull this off and to maintain your control on the team, the media and the front office. When it comes to the media, Wade Phillips tried to kill them with kindness, Bill Parcell aimed to bury them in snark and old man gruff and Jason Garrett gives them nothing. Contrary to popular belief, dealing with Jerry Jones is not impossible. Cowboys fans who really follow the team know that Jerry and Stephen Jones and Will McClay will do whatever they can to make their head coaches happy, even if that means contradicting their big board to get the coach in question THEIR guy. He gives coaches a ton of input if he trusts them and believes in what they’re saying. You have to have the ability to work with Jerry Jones primarily when it comes to convincing and selling him on your vision for the team. It requires a strong personality and like a Vince McMahon, Jerry Jones clearly values strong personalities who are willing to challenge him and make him think. The Cowboys are about to be paying three offensive players in

6- An eye for talent

There’s an argument to be made, one I think even the most cynical bitchy Cowboys fan would agree with, that Jason Garrett is one of the greater talent evaluators that the Cowboys have had as a head coach since the Jimmy Johnson’s initial arrival on the scene. Unlike Jimmy, Jason hasn’t had a bevy of firsts, seconds and third round picks to do it with either. Garrett has a tremendous eye for talent and while he may not apply that eye towards his implementation of said talent, that’s not really the point. Jason Garrett alongside Will McClay created for a solid 1-2 punch in terms of scouting and developing talent through the draft, undrafted free agency and the fringe free agent market. The next head coach is going to need to have Garrett’s ability to identify talent, especially late in drafts and in undrafted free agency. The Cowboys will be losing a serious asset if Garrett is no longer sitting in on scouting meetings.

“Three title fights, some WW and BW violence a…

Joey

December 9th

WHEW! Lordy Lord. The UFC’s final PPV card of the year comes to us from Las Vegas and it’s either a really great card or a really loaded card.  Depending on how you feel about Usman vs Covington as a competitive fight, Volkanovski as a challenger and GDR’s ability to give Amanda Nunes som semblance of a tough fight, this could be a great card with three title fights and a bevy of action fights with familiar names like Matt Brown, Petr Yan, Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo, Marlon Moraes and Mike Perry on the undercard. If you think Usman vs Covington will be boring no matter what, think both Volk and Holloway will approach this fight through the path of least resistance and fear that GDR’s natural pop will take some of the aggressiveness out of the recent violent streak of Amanda Nunes? Maybe it’s just a really stacked card with a bunch of compelling action fights at the bottom. Truthfully I suppose I’m in the middle. If you remove the bleghness that is Ben Saunders vs Matt Brown, I love this undercard. If Usman vs Covington’s personal grudge unleashes the best version of both guys and if Holloway is the Max Holloway of 2016 and 2017 vs the Volkanovski who iced Chad Mendes? You got a card of the year contender. If not? Things get a bit hairy. Either way I got the names and numbers to get on inside and enjoy some ponderings!

Fights: 13

Debuts: Chase Hooper, Punahele Soriano

Fight Changes/Injury Cancellations: 2 (Robbie Lawler vs Santiago Ponzinibbio CANCELLED/Sergio Pettis OUT, Brandon Moreno IN vs Kai Kara France)

Headliners (fighters who have either main evented or co-main evented shows in the UFC): 12 (Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber, Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Max Holloway, Amanda Nunes, Germaine de Randamie, Marlon Moraes, Matt Brown, Jessica Eye, Mike Perry, Brandon Moreno)

Fighters On Losing Streaks in the UFC: Oskar Piechota, Ben Saunders

Fighters On Winning Streaks in the UFC: Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Max Holloway, Amanda Nunes, Germaine de Randamie, Petr Yan, Viviane Araujo, Kai Kara France, Geoff Neal

Main Card Record Since Jan 1st 2017 (in the UFC): 36-5

Colby Covington- 4-0
Kamaru Usman- 6-0
Max Holloway- 4-1
Alexander Volkanovski- 6-0
Amanda Nunes- 4-0
Germaine de Randamie- 3-0
Jose Aldo- 2-2
Marlon Moraes- 4-2
Petr Yan- 4-0
Urijah Faber- 1-0


Fights By Weight Class (yearly number here):

Welterweight- 3  (76)
Bantamweight- 2 (59)
Women’s Bantamweight- 2 (23)
Middleweight- 2 (49)
Featherweight- 2 (61)
Women’s Flyweight-  1 (34)
Flyweight-  1 (16)

Women’s Strawweight- (30)
Heavyweight-  (39)
Lightweight- (75)
Light Heavyweight- (44)
Women’s Featherweight- (8)

2019 Number Tracker

Debuting Fighters (41-62-1)-  Chase Hooper, Punahele Soriano

Short Notice Fighters (33-42-2)-

Second Fight (58-40)- Brandon Moreno, Urijah Faber

Cage Corrosion (Fighters who have not fought within a year of the date of the fight) (23-40-1)– Ketlen Vieira, Matt Brown

Undefeated Fighters (44-40-3)- Ketlen Vieira, Punahele Soriano, Chase Hooper

Fighters with at least four fights in the UFC with 0 wins over competition still in the organization (13-11)-

Weight Class Jumpers (Fighters competing outside of the weight class of their last fight even if they’re returning BACK to their “normal weight class”) (33-26)- Jose Aldo

Twelve Precious Ponderings

1- I really do have bad vibes about this main and co-main event. Even if Nunes takes a while, the likelihood that she finishes Germaine de Randamie is pretty damn strong. Volkanovski is a fighter who excels in the clinch and occasionally winds at range with some sharp kicks and a Mendes-y overhand right. He relies on putting dudes against the fence and working them with dirty boxing (arguably the best at 145 lbs) and a bevy of elbows in tight. The reality is that Holloway usually is real good at forcing fighters to beat him with whatever their plan b is. He’s also got the sort of jab and long shots down the pipe that allow him to dictate the space and the pace. There’s a pretty good chance that Holloway vs Volkanovski is 10 minutes of jabs and leg kicks, 10 minutes of clinch fighting and 5 minutes of intense high drama action. There’s also the subtle factor that Holloway seems to be openly admitting to wanting to be a bit more cautious vs Volkanovski’s last fight being a dud where he sort of froze up in the lights. I want to believe this will be the fight we all dream it to be but this could be a bit of a funky styles clash. As it pertains to Usman vs Covington, I need to be convinced that whatever we’re about to get isn’t going to be 25 minutes of clinch fighting. Covington’s striking is good but lacking pop while Usman’s striking is perfunctory with power. Both guys strike to wrestle and both guys live for the clinch against the fence. Even Usman’s breakout performance vs Tyron Woodley was basically 25 minutes of occasional flurry into a takedown into ground and pound into some form or control. It’s a tough sell for me made worse by Covington’s entire gimmick.

2- Is it fair to say that even if he didn’t develop the lamest gimmick of all time that Colby would’ve STILL wound up here? Like skillset wise, isn’t this where he was always going to be? We’re talking about a big time cardio machine with the wrestling to keep people off of him and the fundamental striking toolbox to at least be competent over five rounds. I guess what I’m saying is did Colby need to be the Butch Reed/Snowman to Chael Sonnen’s Junkyard Dog to get a title shot or was he always going to be in the title picture.

3- If you’re Jorge Masvidal, aren’t you kind of rooting for Covington to win?

4- Really curious to see how Covington handles Usman’s strength. The only guy who was able to somewhat stall that aspect of Usman’s game out was Emil Meek. Everybody else eventually succumbs to his pressure and how strong he is and it is of course worth remembering that there was a pretty solid round or so where RDA was able to match Covington strength for strength and get him down as well.

5- Would the UFC give Max Holloway a re-match if he lost?

6- The most interesting question about Volkanovski vs Holloway is really about how Max Holloway on yet another weight cut does against the power of Volkanovski. The last time a “big” guy hit Holloway, he looked really bad vs Poirier. Now to his credit, Holloway adjusted well as the fight went on and made a great showing down the stretch. For me, it’s about whether or not that initial system shock is a sign that Holloway’s steely fighting chin is about to crack or if he was just caught off guard for how 155 lbers hit.

7- Odds on whether Aldo makes 138 lbs or do they make it a 140 lb catchweight the week of?

8- I have to admit that these two bantamweight fights are seriously growing on me. Faber vs Yan will probably not be competitive in any measure but that also doesn’t matter because Yan is always well worth the time investment and Faber wasn’t favored to beat Ricky Simon either. Jose Aldo vs Marlon Moraes is really interesting in large part because IF Aldo can make this weight cut safely then it’s a winnable fight for him. Marlon Moraes does not like to work too hard so to speak and often fights like a guy who is taking his time knowing full well that he has the stopping power to make opponents pay for mistakes. He’s not going to rush or brawl, he’s going to keep himself in the range he needs to win the fight and then when the chance arises, wipe out his opponent. Sound familiar? That’s basically how Jose Aldo built an empire of wins at 145 lbs. If his speed and his pop carries down a weight class, we could have one of the more exciting chess matches ever.

9- I’m uncomfortable with Mike Perry coming back around before the end of 2020. Dude has had a lot of violent fights and I don’t see how you recover from that Luque fight that quickly. Him vs Geoff Neal will be fun while it lasts but it figures to be an uncomfortable watch.

10- Is Ketlein Vieira’s knees sapped from the injuries or will she still be as good as she was prior to the injuries? Like an Aspen Ladd, Keitlen is going to be judged almost entirely on whether or not she’s good enough to give Amanda Nunes any sort of a challenge in her inevitable or eventual title fight. When she left, she wasn’t quite there and she’s been gone for a year and change. I think at this point we can all agree that Irene Aldana is not ever going to reach those heights in large part due to gaps in her in fight decision making.

11- I think the UFC is going to be real uncomfortable with how not good Chase Hooper is right now. A lot of talent but dude is JUST too green for the role.

12- Jessica Eye goes from co-main event of a big time PPV to second fight on the card. That’s the fluctuating value of WMMA for ya, folks.