Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Head-Coaching Candidates for the Dallas Cowboys

At 5-5, the Cowboys sit atop of a putrid NFC East that has a combined record of 16-22. Although Dallas hasn’t been able to show any sign of consistency this season, they’re still in first place in the NFC East. Dallas has by far the most talent out of any team in their division. Star players such as Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, and Brandon Carr are on this roster. If Dallas isn’t able to win the NFC East, this should definitely be Jason Garrett’s last year in Big D.

Despite reports saying he isn’t coaching for his job, Jerry Jones is getting old and hungry for another Super Bowl ring. If Dallas is able to stay healthy, this team has enough star-power to make it to the big game. This past off-season, Jerry Jones stripped Jason Garrett of play-calling duties; this made Garrett a head-coach only. Since taking over the Cowboys after Wade Phillips’ debacle in 2010, Garrett has a career record of 26-24. This doesn’t look like Jerry Jones’ golden-boy that he claimed Garrett was. In fact, in 2008, Jerry Jones made Jason Garrett the highest-paid assistant coach in the entire NFL. Garrett is definitely on the hot seat this year. If the Cowboys flop again, he could lose his job at the end of the season.

Here are a couple of candidates who could take over for Jason Garrett:

Jon Gruden


  • Youngest coach to ever win a super bowl

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

  • Career record: 95-81

This name tends to float around every year at the end of the season. Gruden’s current job is an announcer on Monday Night Football. Gruden’s “no crap” personality would make a change of philosophy in Dallas. Gruden has always brought the best out of his players.

This would be a good fit for Dallas because they would get a Super Bowl-caliber coach who knows what it takes to get it done. It would take a lot to get Gruden out of the booth, but if he does, Dallas could be a good option. It is true that Gruden may not be a good fit with a hands-on owner like Jerry Jones. But it is interesting to know that Gruden’s staff from his 2003 Super Bowl-winning team is there. When Gruden was the head coach for the Buccaneers, his offensive coordinator was Bill Callahan, his defensive coordinator was Monte Kiffin, and his special teams coordinator was Rich Bisaccia. All of these coaches are on the staff of the Dallas Cowboys today. That is something to be aware of for the future.

Brian Kelly


  • NFL-ready college coach who has been linked to many NFL teams

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

  • Career record: 35-14

Brian Kelly has been linked to the Cowboys in the past. Kelly is another good coach; but he has only coached at the college level. Kelly is just a winner; plain & simple. The Cowboys may want a change of scenery at head coach, that’s why they could pick up one of the elite brains in college football. Kelly’s success has led him to future opportunities for the NFL. Jerry Jones could swoop this guy up; if Garrett is fired.

Mike Holmgren


  • Super Bowl winner in 1996
  • Career record: 161-111

Holmgren is the most-likely choice for Dallas as their next head coach. It is widely known that him and Jerry Jones have an excellent relationship. It wouldn’t take much for Jones to convince him to come to Dallas; Holmgren has already expressed his interest for the Dallas Cowboys. Holmgren has been a great coach around the league dating back to his head coaching days with the Packers. Like Gruden, he has a Super Bowl-winning pedigree that can give the Cowboys a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.


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Tags: Brian Kelly Dallas Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett Jon Gruden Mike Holmgren

  • JTracker

    I’m pushing for Rob Ryan for hc

    • Ryan Ratty

      I doubt he would come back to Dallas after the firing. You have to give Ryan credit, his defense wasn’t playing too bad, despite many starters out of the lineup.

      • Jd

        I’m from the NY, NJ area. And there were rumblings before the season started that, if the Jets floundered and Rex fired and Kiffin’s defense didn’t work, there could have been a possibility that Jerry would have went after Rex for DC. I doubt it’ll happen now. Or if it ever would have.

        • Ryan Ratty

          Rex has put together a surprisingly good year in New York. I doubt he will be fired; even if he does, I don’t think a defensive-minded head coach is the way to go for this Cowboys team.

          • Jimmy D

            Do you think Sumlin from A&M, Shaw from Stanford, of course Briles, although signed through 2023 I think, his name is always being mentioned nowadays & would you think Jones would even think about Saban or Meyer? Would you think a college coach direction is possible for him?

          • Ryan Ratty

            Thanks for an awesome comment Jimmy D. Before hearing about Garrett returning (article will be up shortly on that), I really thought Sumlin & Shaw would be terrific coaches. I liked Shaw much more as he comes from a more polished program and his overall pedigree is much more convincing. Regarding Briles, I believe he is strictly a college coach. With Saban, he has coached in the NFL before, and he was very subpar. I don’t see Meyer leaving Ohio Sate, considering he hasn’t lost a game there yet.

          • Jimmy D

            Thank you. I just appreciate you taking the time to reply. Most other writers never do.
            And now that it looks like our coaching staff will be back, no word on Callahan yet, but who knows with Jerry. And as I had asked you before about their future & direction for next year & draft wise. I would think suring up the defense is the best way to go. And as I’ve been looking at all the defensive players, ends & lineman specifically, which is our biggest needs. And I guess Nix knee injury could hurt his draft position, but we won’t know until the combines. And I also don’t think he’ll be around by the time we pick. But a few other players I wanted your opinion on. Scherff from Iowa, Anthony Johnson from LSU, Tuitt from ND, Beasley from Clemson or Telvin Smith from FSU. I think we could definitely have a chance at getting 2 of them, again, depending on our draft position. But we need to get some speed on end & a big, quick footed lineman to plug up the middle.
            Do you think it’s possible we get 2 of the guys I mentioned above & would you agree that is probably the best way to go?

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    If Jerry Jones is getting old and hungry for another Super Bowl ring then he should quit his job as the general manager. Otherwise, just like the writer of this article, anybody who thinks the Cowboys have a decent chance to win another Superbowl are living in fantisy land.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. I believe Dallas has the talent to make a run in the playoffs. But the lack of discipline and no fire in this team holds them back each and every year.

  • SmartThinking

    If Garrett loses at Chicago, he’s gone. If he wins at Chicago, he coaches to the end of the season and he and his coaching staff are heavily assessed for their season at that point.

    Not sure Gruden would take the pay cut to leave the play-by-play booth to coach this team again.

    Holmgren is interesting, particularly if Lovie Smith could be enticed to also come on as a coordinator. Keep Marinelli as defensive coordinator, dump the rest.

    Rob Ryan would be an absolute disaster for this club. If you believe, as I do, that there has been a significant lack of player discipline and personal control on this Cowboys team, then Ryan and his personal lack of discipline would only add chaos to a team already nearing the bottom of personal responsibility.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. Holmgren is by far the most believable choice at this point. I agree with keeping Marinelli as the defensive coordinator, but it would be hard to see him leaving his friend Monte Kiffin. Also, if Marinelli stays as the defensive coordinator, what will be Lovie Smith’s job in Dallas?

  • Juanito Juanito

    yes, brian kelly is a winner, but he has never be in jerry jones hands, he could succed with a boss like jones, i dont think so, cowboys need a no puppet coach

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. I definitely think Brian Kelly would succeed in the NFL. If Garrett is fired, Dallas’ new head coach must have fire & passion.

  • JoeDaBeast

    No Bill “the Chin” Cowher? And I’m sure you meant to say “booth” instead on “It would take a lot to get Gruden out of the both”

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. I can’t see Bill Cowher & Jerry Jones meshing with each other. I would love to have Cowher as our HC, but I can’t see it happening with Jerry Jones.

  • Kingdaddy2000

    With what he’s done in Kansas City, I’d like to see someone analyze what Andy Reid could have done with the team if he had replaced Garrett for this season. KC won only 2 games last year (albeit with 6 pro-bowlers though), and are knocking it out of the park this year.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. Who do you think could be that guy? Obviously, Andy Reid has had success in the past. Another guy that has had similar success is Lovie Smith. Like Reid, Lovie Smith has always had a competitive team. But, he has never won the big one. Another interesting note; Lovie’s son Mikal is the nickel cornerbacks coach in Dallas.

  • Juanito Juanito

    with jerry jones like gm, none will succed, all people know it

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. Obviously, Jerry Jones has made some boneheaded decisions that has put this franchise back for a few years. But, the pieces are in place to make a Super Bowl run.

  • Jd

    I’m confused as to why Pep Hamiltons name isn’t here?
    OC of Indy, has developed luck at Stanford and now in Indy.
    And in case people missed the Tennessee game… The Colts were getting beaten up pretty good in that game. Makes 2 key adjustments at halftime, game over. He’s innovative, creative, finds ways to get the ball to his best players and even with having an absolute bust in Trent Richardson, he still utilizes brown and gets the absolute most out of him.
    This game is quick drop back and release. Not holding onto the ball for 8-10 seconds, which is exactly what Romo does. And that’s because of Callahan’s putrid offensive game plan. This team has no balance, can’t convert short 3rd downs & can’t find a way to get the ball to our best player.
    Any offensive coordinator who has dez, Williams and Witten, and I don’t care who they were playing. And they had a combined total of 1 catch for 8 yards at the half against the Saints. He should have been fired before the post game presser began. That’s inexcusable, pitiful and outright disgusting.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. Very interesting name. I believe the Colts are on the rise. They got a true gem in Pagano. I agree this offense has been extremely stagnant and it makes no sense, but could another different offensive coordinator really HELP the Cowboys? Changing systems and philosophies each and every year definitely does not help the cause. Very good comment, JD.

      • Jimmy D

        You’re welcome. This is a very good column.
        I’m not sure if anyone can help this team turn it around, unless, of course Jerry actually hires a real gm. Which, as we both know probably won’t happen.
        I’m from the NY, NJ area. And before the season started there was a lot of talk about the Jets and if they had a bad season, idzik would definitely replace Rex. & there were a few grumblings of Jerry possibly hiring Rex as our DC. Have you heard anything like that and do you think Jerry would consider it?
        Because the one thing we know about Rex, besides the obvious of him being a great defensive mind, he seems to get players to follow him to his new job & he definitely gets his players to play for him.

        • Ryan Ratty

          I believe I commented on this from you earlier. I don’t see a defensive-minded coach as a fit for this team. Regarding Pep Hamilton, that could be a very interesting name come the end of the season.

          • Jimmy D

            I don’t mean Rex as a head coach, I meant as our defensive coordinator. Or you just don’t believe anyone could help at this time regardless who’s hired?

          • Ryan Ratty

            I don’t see Rex coming here after what just happened with Rob, his brother. One defensive coordinator I do think the Cowboys should pursue is Mike Zimmer

          • Jimmy D

            I like that choice. That’s just a guy who can flat out coach. And he is someone who will absolutely get his defense to play every single down for him. & he certainly makes players better. Appreciate the the response.

          • Ryan Ratty

            A combination of Rod Marinelli & Mike Zimmer would be blue-collar & powerful defense.

  • VeteranForTruth

    Jones is the problem. He needs to fire himself, and hire Jimmy Johnson (beg Jimmy Johnson) to be the GM. Jimmy will promptly take care of Garrett and Kiffin. Those cats would get escorted out by security.

    We are done until JJ and his son Stephen are in the owners suite watching like the rest of us.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. Agree with you at some points. But, I doubt Jimmy Johnson will come back after his rocky past with Jerry Jones.

  • John Anthony

    They could hire the newly designed Jerry Jones Bag Heads to coach because these boys are a JOKE all his coaches are puppet heads!!!

    • Ryan Ratty

      Thanks for the comment. Check out the new article because Garrett will return in 2014, per Jerry Jones.