Commentary

After Phillips, Garrett is next in line

Updated: May 11, 2010, 10:57 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

Jason GarrettMatthew Emmons/US PresswireIt's premature to talk about who might succeed Wade Phillips, but Jason Garrett would be high on the list.
We hope you took care of your mom on Mother's Day. Or for that matter, your wife or girlfriend. In this week's mailbag, some writers can't wait to get Bobby Carpenter out of here, and others wonder about the safety position. But our first question comes from Skip, who is already talking about a coaching change.

Q: Coaching question: In the event Wade Phillips doesn't see the end of his contract, who out there in the coaching world might Jerry Jones have on his radar to maintain the level of our 3-4 defense? Mike Nolan perhaps? As for Jason Garrett, I don't see him worth $3 million per as a coordinator again. Truly enjoy your writing, by the way. -- Skip (Bowie, Md.)

A: Skip, keep in contact, I love fans. Now to the question at hand. If Wade gets canned -- he won't resign, trust me on that -- Garrett is the favorite to get the job. He is the highest-paid coordinator in the game, and Jones likes him a lot. However, I've always thought that if the Giants' job opens up -- and believe me, it might if the Giants fail to reach the playoffs again -- Garrett, a Jersey guy, would be in the mix for that gig. For the Cowboys, Dom Capers is another possibility since he runs a 3-4 scheme, and Nolan too.

[+] EnlargeOshiomogho Atogwe
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesThe Cowboys are unlikely to have interest in safety O.J. Atogwe because of a steep price tag.
Q: Is there a chance that the Cowboys and the Rams do another deal in the middle of June? I know they like Alan Ball, but if the Cowboys could get O.J. Atogwe, do you think they would try? -- Jonathan Dy (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.)

A: As of now, the Cowboys are sticking with Ball as the starting safety, with the possibility that Michael Hamlin might challenge for the spot. Fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a corner turning into a safety, is very athletic and fast. He too could make a move for the starting job, but that's a year or two down the line. As far as Atogwe is concerned, the Cowboys don't want him because the price is too high.

Q: Where do you think the Cowboys stand right now? -- Marvin (Charleston, S.C.)

A: I like the Cowboys right now. They are the defending NFC East champs with two dominant pass-rushers, a Pro Bowl wide receiver and tight end, an offensive line that got younger and, don't forget, two Pro Bowl corners. Say what you will about Wade Phillips, but this team is playing hard for him and respects him. The Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender. Whether they can win it is uncertain because they have the third-toughest schedule in the NFL.

Q: Hey Calvin, I noticed that you were pretty brutal with the weekly predictions for next year. 9-7 really? Aside from giving you a hard time, it appears that we have all the pieces for a strong run in the playoffs. How far do you think we're going in 2010? Also, have any of your predictions changed since the draft? -- Dave R (Austin, Texas)

A: Dave, I think I had the Cowboys going 10-6 for 2010 with a strong finish in November and December. The issues they have are how they handle the schedule, safety, health and left tackle. If those things don't bother them, who knows how far they can go.

Q: I think this trade of Bobby Carpenter for Alex Barron is great, if true. Do you see Barron as the starting LT? I just don't feel safe with Doug Free as the starter. I feel he's just a good backup. -- 5ringz (Belmont, N.H.)

A: I'm not sure what type of name you have here, 5ringz, but you have a good question. Bobby Carpenter and Alex Barron are two guys who need fresh starts. Carpenter gets to play in a 4-3 scheme, and it's time for Barron to leave St. Louis where many people feel he's a first-round bust. Barron will challenge Doug Free for the starting left tackle spot, and if he doesn't win the job, he can become the swing tackle.

Q: What are the latest trade rumors, if any, floating around Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd? Are there any teams interested? -- Larry (Chico, Calif.)

[+] EnlargeChamp Bailey
Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMISam Hurd wants to see more time at wide receiver but he probably won't get it with the Cowboys.
A: There are some teams interested in both players, but a front-office guy told me the club is not going to just give Crayton away. The best thing is to keep both of them. Crayton would move to No. 4 on the WR depth chart, and he might slip further if Kevin Ogletree can prove to the coaches he can master the playbook and make plays on the field if given more opportunity. Hurd is good on special teams, but he wants to play wide receiver more often. He might need a new address, but his speed and potential give the Cowboys pause when it comes to trading him.

Q: Being a longtime Cowboy fan and growing up in the '90s and watching Jimmy coach the way he did and have all the success that he did, wouldn't you think competition for the second receiver spot, the free safety spot and the left tackle spot and one of the defensive ends spots get this team over the hump and make them a Super Bowl champion and a deadly dynasty once again? With all the talent you have on both sides of the ball, this team is too deep to fall in the playoffs. -- Jamie (Sulphur Springs, Texas)

A: Growing up in the 1990s makes you a longtime Cowboys fan? Wow. I must be getting old. Maybe I am old. It's interesting to see or read how people say Jimmy Johnson was so great. He was with the Cowboys, but with the Dolphins, not so great. However, people have to move on from the Johnson era, as great as it was with two Super Bowl titles and the Triplets. It's time to focus on Wade Phillips. The man just won his first playoff game as a head coach and now he's poised to do something Bill Parcells didn't do with the Cowboys: make them a Super Bowl contender.

Q: Calvin, is it me or do most of the recent reports on the Dallas Cowboys or for Dez Bryant seemed to be geared in the negative way? The Ireland conversation has been dragged out more than it should be. Is it really necessary to bring up Bryant's mother's past for 2009? Last time I checked, ESPN was about sports or what players are doing for their communities. Does newsworthy information have to be pedaled almost as a scandal to make columns or to keep up ratings? Your thoughts. -- Rudy Salinas (Indio, Calif.)

A: Rudy, ESPN writes plenty of positive stories about athletes. Probably more so than anybody around. Saying that, the only reason we wrote about Dez Bryant's mom is she said she hadn't gotten in trouble in 14 years. That wasn't true. She was arrested twice last year. Saying that, her life is turning into something more positive. She is attending school and has moved out of Lufkin, Texas. She lives near Dez in Dallas now and is working on becoming a solid citizen.

Q: I was just watching film of Robert Brewster, and the kid is a mauler in the run game. Any chance that he could transition to the guard position and compete for the starting LG spot? -- Justin Lynch (Collinsville, Ill)

A: Justin, the Cowboys want to see if Brewster can become the swing tackle right now. Pat McQuistan was moved from tackle to guard, so that gives Brewster an opportunity to make the 53.

Q: I have heard rumors that it would be possible that we could get Flozell Adams back. Is that possible or is that just a rumor? -- Marcus Bell (Los Angeles)

A: Jerry Jones said he's open to bringing Adams back, and Adams' agent is open to it as well. But Adams wants to become a starter someplace before he listens to Dallas. If the Cowboys finalize the trade for Alex Barron as expected, I would rule Adams' return out. Barron plays both tackle spots and he's younger than Adams.

Q: When can Tony Romo start working with Dez Bryant? Does Dez have to be under contract, or can they start throwing together sooner? Romo seems to work best with the WRs he trusts the most, so it would be best to give them as much time together as possible. Bigger question: Would Romo put in time with Dez before training camp, or is that not his style? -- Chris (San Diego)

A: Tony Romo works very hard with his receivers, especially during the offseason. Bryant and Romo can start working out on May 17, the first day of organized team activities.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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