Dallas Cowboys: Kris Richard, not just Garrett, coaching for his future

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 29: A Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 29: A Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

We can all agree Jason Garrett is at a critical time in his coaching career but don’t underestimate the significance ’19 has for assistant coach Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys head coach, Jason Garrett, is playing on the last year of his deal. It’s widely accepted his future as a head coach likely depends on how this team does this season (or should I say “postseason”). In much the same way, Kris Richard faces an uncertain future because his 2019 also serves as a “crossroads” in his career.

Will Richard build on his success here in Dallas and establish himself as one of the preeminent defensive minds? Furthermore, can that manifest in a head coaching opportunity in 2020? Or will his talented defensive unit plateau and call into question his abilities to get the most from a highly talented roster? What happens in 2019 will likely set him on a path – in one direction or the other.

Dallas Cowboys fans love them some Kris Richard. From the moment he arrived in 2018, he was an instant fan favorite. Dallas called him the defensive passing game coordinator but really made him more of a co-coordinator with the officially listed defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli. All things considered, his rise has been close to meteoric…

The Quick Rise

Richard’s dismissal from the Seattle Seahawks was surprising to say the least. After leading the back-end of the infamous “Legion of Boom”, he was dismissed after an underachieving 2017 season. Thought of as more scapegoat than the culprit, Dallas didn’t hesitate to sign Richard in a slightly diminished role.

Style points don’t mean much to teams, but they matter a bunch to coaches looking to elevate their station in the coaching hierarchy.

Taking over play-calling duties, Richard quickly endeared himself to Cowboys Nation with his aggressive approach. His fiery sideline behavior was a sight for sore eyes – eyes which grew sore from seeing unconditional clapping as the primary coaching export.  It was almost comforting to see a coach be visually critical on the sidelines. Players and fans alike seemed to identify with his “on-his-sleeves” emotion.

Richard did a lot of things to elevate the Dallas Cowboys defense last season, but none more noteworthy than his work in the secondary. For roughly a decade the Dallas secondary has been a sore spot on the team. No matter how much investment was made, either through the draft or in free agency, the Dallas secondary struggled to live up to their expectations. But Richard changed that.

Many forget how poorly Byron Jones played the season before Richard arrived. The third year free safety never found comfort in his position and was actually regressing rather than progressing, leading to diminished snaps and an uncertain future.

When Richard came on board he saw Jones as a cornerback, not safety. CB was a position Jones flirted with early in his career but eventually abandoned. Maybe abandoning CB was a mistake. Maybe not bringing in Richard sooner was a bigger mistake. Regardless, Jones finished last season as a top-10 CB and could be an All-Pro down the road.

The rest of the secondary saw similar progress. Anthony Brown was coming off a fairly down year in 2017 and Richard made him one of the better nickel CBs in the NFL. Chidobe Awuzie also took positive strides and now looks like he has CB1 potential. Xavier Woods went from sixth round afterthought to budding young star almost instantly.

Successes were found all over the secondary and Richard didn’t even get to shop for the groceries (throwback to Parcells who compared personnel decisions and coaching with shopping and cooking). Kris Richard just cooked with the ingredients the Cowboys gave him and somehow came out with a gourmet meal. The rest of the defense followed suit (to a somewhat lesser degree) making Kris Richard one of the NFL’s official tier 1 head coaching candidates last winter. 

While a head coaching position never came to be last season, it may be in Kris Richard’s immediate future, provided he can have another standout defensive season…


2019 is a pivotal year for Kris Richard. If he exceeds national expectations he could score himself a head coaching job in 2020. If he fails to live up to his lofty expectations, he probably won’t.

More from Dallas Cowboys

This season hasn’t started great for Kris Richard. While the team has a 2-0 record, the defense has been a bit of a disappointment. Despite playing against two of the NFL’s worst offenses, the defense has only mustered 2 sacks, 2 turnovers, and zero interceptions this season. They have been starting and ending games poorly and are allowing 362.5 yards per game (18th in NFL). Again, not what you expected from this defense and certainly not what you’d expect against two poor offenses.

Kris Richard’s defense gets Christmas early this week when they meet up with the worst team in the NFL. Favored by 21 points, the Dallas Cowboys should, once again, have no issue dispatching their opponent. But how they win matters to someone like Kris Richard. Style points don’t mean much to teams, but they matter a bunch to coaches looking to elevate their station in the coaching hierarchy.

The time is now for this unit to starting racking up the sacks, interceptions, and shutouts. The schedule only gets tougher for this team, and for a coach at a crossroads, there’s no time to waste

Next. Can Dallas survive their war of attrition?. dark

Jason Garrett isn’t the only Dallas Cowboys coach at a crossroads. Kris Richard’s future also depends greatly on how his unit performs this season. Will he be the next great head coach or just a promising candidate needing more time as an assistant? Time will tell but it’s going to be based on how the Dallas Cowboys defense performs this season and right now, they need to improve significantly.

  • Published on 09/20/2019 at 11:10 AM
  • Last updated at 09/20/2019 at 07:43 AM