The Dallas Cowboys are notorious for giving some assistant coaches extremely long leashes, while giving others extremely short leashes. Some coaches are granted influence and control, while others are there to follow orders and execute plans.
On the Dallas Cowboys, Joe Philbin falls into the former category.
Joe Philibin, the Dallas Cowboys Cowboys assistant head coach and offensive line coach, is a McCarthy guy. The former OC of McCarthy’s Packers and head coach of the Dolphins, is considered an offensive line specialist. Nearly every stop of his coaching career, from the college ranks to the pros, involved an emphasis on the O-line.
So you can see why the Dallas Cowboys have given Philbin an abnormal amount of autonomy for a position coach.
The Dallas Cowboys have given Joe Philbin a lot of rope to handle the O-line how he see’s fit. Enough to hang himself with.
Last season was a major flex from Joe Philbin. He made no secret his love for Terence Steele over the 2021 offseason. Despite ranking as arguably the worst OT in the NFL the year prior, Philbin adored Steele’s work ethic, attitude, and potential. Philbin was the top reason Steele was Dallas’ starting RT most of the season, and the top reason La’el Collins is in Cleveland right now.
Philbin also has his fingerprints all over center and left guard. He clearly doesn’t think much of Connor McGovern and has constantly pushed for options at center (the Dallas Cowboys scouted center heavily in the draft process).
Everything happening down the O-line, from personnel to running scheme, is in Philbin’s image. Sink or swim, it’s going to be on his terms.
While I’ve fervently questioned his decision-making throughout the process, I have to respect his commitment to doing it “his way.” I also respect the Dallas Cowboys willingness to empower him (wish they’d do that with Kellen Moore). Failing is never fun, but failing while executing someone else’s plan has a special sting to it.
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line was a complete disaster last season. Blame Philbin, blame injuries, or blame execution, but the poor results were undeniable. After a full offseason of major influence, Philbin has pulled tight all the slack in his leash, leading to 2022 as a real make-or-break season.
If he can make first round pick Tyler Smith a force while improving overall play from center, he’s going to be on the right track. Assuming his golden boy, Steele, continues to progress and LT doesn’t end up in disaster (the depth behind Tyron is frightening) Philbin’s freedom to run the O-line how he sees fit could pay off enormously.
But if it doesn’t work out, it will be the nail in Joe Philbin’s coffin.
This year is a big year for Philbin and the offensive line. The O-line is the single biggest reason the offense collapsed last season and single biggest factor in their ability to rebound in 2022. Whether you love his decisions or hate his decisions, you have to appreciate the commitment by the coach and by the Cowboys.
If it works out maybe the Dallas Cowboys will be more open to giving rope to other assistant coaches…