Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com
IRVING, Texas — Jerry Jones sees no reason to shake up the Dallas Cowboys‘ coaching staff during the bye week, although he does have some direct advice for his coaches.
We’re 5-5. We’re tied for the lead in our division. We’ve got players coming back. We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. We’re off of a rough loss. That doesn’t call for major changes out here at all.
” — Jerry Jones
Jones, the Cowboys’ owner/general manager, was adamant on his radio show Tuesday morning that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin wouldn’t be a midseason departure and coach Jason Garrett would not seize play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.
Both possibilities had been subjects of media speculation in the wake of the Cowboys’ 49-17 loss Sunday night to the New Orleans Saints.
“Say it any way you want to, I’m not even going to address — really I’m not — the coaching staff as to whether they’re safe or they’re not,” Jones said on KRLD-FM. “We’re 5-5. We’re tied for the lead in our division. We’ve got players coming back. We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. We’re off of a rough loss.
“That doesn’t call for major changes out here at all.”
Jones firmly answered “no” when asked about the potential for change in the offensive play-calling duties. Garrett gave up those duties this offseason at the urging of Jones.
With Callahan calling plays, the Cowboys rank fourth in the league in scoring at 27.4 points per game. However, they have sputtered offensively since a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 5 and were held to 193 total yards in Sunday’s loss to the Saints.
Jones specifically is not satisfied with the way receiver Dez Bryant is being utilized. Bryant has 52 catches for 749 yards and eight touchdowns this season but was targeted only twice against the Saints, who double-teamed him on a consistent basis.
“We need to get him the ball more,” Jones said. “I think that’s the kind of thing that’s a reasonable thing that you can adjust over a two-week period that we’re going into with our bye week. How do we work to get him the ball more?”
The Dallas defense, which switched to a 4-3 scheme after the offseason firing of Rob Ryan and hiring of Kiffin, ranks last in the league with an average of 439.8 yards allowed. Dallas has broken the franchise record for yards allowed in two of the last three games, giving up 623 yards in a loss to the Detroit Lions and 625 to the Saints.
Jones is optimistic that the defense will drastically improve after the bye, when defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety J.J. Wilcox are expected to return from injuries. Starting linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant suffered hamstring strains against the Saints that are expected to sideline them for three or four weeks, Jones confirmed.
Kiffin is considered one of the architects of the Tampa 2 scheme, but Jones said the Cowboys need to play more man coverage to succeed with their personnel, considering the injury attrition to the defensive line.
“You need to probably man up more in the secondary than we’ve been doing, rather than relying on zone,” Jones said. “Because if we can’t get pressure and we’re relying on the traditional zone as you might mentally picture it, then that’s a recipe for what happened to us the other night.”
The Cowboys enter their bye week at .500 after consecutive 8-8 seasons. Dallas, which is trying to end a three-year playoff drought, is tied with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East standings.
“Certainly, 5-5 is not acceptable,” Jones said. “We can say that we were close on all but one of those games. We were competitive and very easily could have won any of those four [other] games that we lost. I would have to say it would be a stretch to say that we should have won or we should have been in there close in New Orleans. You can get pretty critical of everything if you use New Orleans as a basis to criticize on, but in general, yes, I’ll take our chances with Kansas City the way we played them up there the second game of the year. We had a chance to win that ballgame and played well enough to win. Denver, we had a chance to win.
“So you look back on those and I don’t think you look at what happened to us in New Orleans the other night and become panicky.”
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