The Cowboys are headed into the 2013 offseason with a lot to prove in the coming year. Though this is certainly nothing new for the entire franchise, times are getting tighter and the blame is becoming broader. Jason Garrett managed to avoid the axe after losing his second straight win-or-go-home season-ending game in a row. The blame was mostly shouldered by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was fired almost immediately after the season ended.
Since then, owner/general manager Jerry Jones has revamped the coaching staff by bringing in Monte Kiffin, who was defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 12 years (winning Super Bowl XXXVII). In addition to that hire Jones has also brought in former Tampa Bay assistants Rod Marinelli and Rich Bisaccia for defensive line coach and special teams coordinator, respectively. Furthermore, the Kiffin hire means that the Cowboys will be switching to the 4-3 defense after having run a 3-4 since the Bill Parcells era.
Here are the 5 pressing needs for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason:
Reassign Play-Calling Duties
Switching DeMarcus Ware to defensive end will be the easiest part of Monte Kiffin's attempt to transition the Dallas Cowboys' 3-4 personnel to a 4-3 defense.
Kiffin's 4-3 'under' front will use Ware in a similar way to how he has played most of his career. He will still act as the focal point of the Cowboys' pass rush, by providing pressure from the edge. He will still be aligned wide and on the openside of the formation, away from a tight end. If anything, Ware could have even more pass-rush opportunities playing for Kiffin, than he did operating in a 3-4. That has to be scary thought for the Cowboys' opponents in 2013.
Taking a closer at the switch, a useful comparison is how Ware played under Wade Phillips from 2007-10. When Phillips took over, he altered the 3-4 scheme of previous head coach, Bill Parcells. Under Parcells, the Cowboys operated a traditional, 2-gap 3-4 front. While Ware was still the scheme's main pass-rusher, Parcells' system demanded more coverage responsibilities and extra reads on the outside.
With Arizona Cardinals Coaching Staff Coming Together, Focus Moves to Draft Preparation, QB Scouting.
When Bruce Arians was announced as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he said he hoped to have his coaching staff assembled before the team left for Mobile, Alabama and the Senior Bowl. Against the odds, Arians appears to have made good on his first promise, reportedly putting together his entire staff within days of his appointment, save for the final paperwork—no mean feat considering that tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is apparently the only holdover from Ken Whisenhunt's staff.
Thus far, only three assistants have officially been named, Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, Harold Goodwin as offensive coordinator and Tom Moore as assistant head coach/offense.
Bowles, a former team captain at Temple, under then head coach Arians, comes as no surprise to anyone. He was reportedly always part of a package deal with Arians, who had apparently promised him the job when Arians was the leading candidate for the Chicago Bears job.
Bowles was a finalist for the Cardinals defensive coordinator position in 2011 narrowly losing out to Ray Horton at the time, and will likely be a near straight swap for the outgoing Horton.
The Atlanta Falcons to Reward QB Matt Ryan with Mega-Contract Extension after First Post-Season Win in Five Years
Numbers don't lie. The Atlanta Falcons started the regular season with an impressive 9-0 record. Despite this great start, the Falcons were never considered an elite team in the NFL. Up to that point, they had not beaten a team with at least a .500 record. Since drafting Matt Ryan as the starting QB in 2008, until this year he had been 0-3 in the post-season.
The Falcons did silence their critics this year by finally winning its first post-season game in the Matt Ryan era last week against the Seahawks. Even after entering the post-season as the No. 1 seed in the NFC Division and posting a14-4 record, no one expected the Falcons to make it to the Super Bowl.
Last week the Falcons almost became the first team in NFL playoffs history to lose after having a 20-point lead entering the fourth quarter against Seattle. The Falcons jumped out to a strong start—they led Seattle 20-0 at the half and had to rely on kicker Matt Bryant's last second field goal to secure a 30-28 victory in the NFL Divisional round last weekend.