What's On Garrett's Agenda?

Jason Garrett is now the head honcho at Valley Ranch, but how much control does he really have and moves are the Cowboys looking to make? The Ranch Report examines those questions and more in this extensive report.

Sure, Jerry Jones, as the team's owner, could veto personnel moves Garrett wants to make. But Jones never would interfere with the football decisions of a qualified leader like Garrett, would he?

Since the day he took over as the team's interim coach, Garrett certainly has behaved like a CEO-style leader of the organization. He is meticulous in his attention to detail, demanded of his players a level of accountability they had forgotten during the Wade Phillips era, and spewed blatantly vague clichés during press conferences as if he had roamed the sideline as a head coach for decades, not a few weeks.

But every move Garrett made was watched with a raised eyebrow or two. Despite his claims about how his focus was to "try to improve every day" (after all, "it's a process"), have a good day of practice every day, leading up to every game — each of which "presented a great challenge for us" — it was hard not to wonder how he balanced the idea of developing the team for the long term with the urgency of trying to win each game so he could get the head coach's job on a permanent basis.

That uncertainty is over now. Garrett is in charge, Jones said Thursday, and has the authority to make whatever personnel decisions — in regard to both coaches and players — he likes.

Garrett undoubtedly has a lengthy to-do list. If not, RanchReport.com has some suggestions for areas that deserve his immediate attention:

Coaching staff
The easy approach would be to retain the current staff, many of whom have strong reputations in coaching circles. But the fact is that as professional and highly regarded as many Dallas assistants are, they weren't hired by Garrett; they're not his guys. To a man, they would be loyal assistants if retained by Garrett, but he needs to assemble his own staff, not work with Phillips's staff. There already is speculation about new names that will be added to the staff, like Miami assistant head coach Todd Bowles, who reportedly is being considered as Garrett's first defensive coordinator. Garrett has made no announcements about potential staff changes, but presumably will be his first order of business.

Offensive line
Say that you want about Tony Romo's ability to come back from his broken collarbone, or which running back(s) should get the majority of the carries next year. None of that will matter unless the offensive line gets straightened out. Four of the five starters (Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo) are at least 31 years old, which is bordering on senior citizen status for NFL linemen. There are several free agents along the Dallas offensive line, including Kosier, Alex Barron and the lone youngster — Doug Free, who exceeded just about everyone's expectations in his first year as a starter. In addition, Davis wasn't the dominant performer he had been in years past, and Colombo battled durability issues, so expect at least a couple of new faces among the starters next season. In addition, Garrett and his offensive line coach will have to determine what they have among the current backups, and could well bring in some new faces, whether via the draft (if there is one, thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players and the possibility of a lockout by the owners) or free agency.

A lot of questions to be answered here. Was Terence Newman perpetually bothered by nagging injuries, or is he slowing down at the age of 32? What happened to the 2009 version of Mike Jenkins that made the Pro Bowl? Can the Cowboys re-sign strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh, the team's best defensive back in 2010? Is there any way Alan Ball is back at free safety? What does Dallas have in 2010 rookie Akwasi Owusu-Ansah? Can free agent rookie Bryan McCann repeat his dazzling debut season?

Shedding veterans
The Cowboys entered the 2010 season amid expectations (by Jones, anyway) that they would compete for a chance to be the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium. Not surprisingly, the team was built to make a run at the league's ultimate game, which meant high-priced talent that left Dallas with the second-highest payroll (about $146 million) in the NFL. The two questions that must be asked:

• Who will be dismissed as Garrett reshapes the roster?

• How could the Oakland Raiders justify spending even more?

CowboysHQ Top Stories