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Column: Disappointment and Desperation

by Dan Borrello
October 19, 2019

The NFL season isn’t even halfway, and two cities with great expectations are already panicking. 

No, not the Dolphins. Part of the reason Adam Gase is coaching in New York and not Miami is because he disagreed with the franchise’s idea to tank the 2019 season. Enter former New England Patriots defensive coordinator, Brian Flores, who has already written-off second-year quarterback, Josh Rosen, and is looking ahead to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. 

And no, not Oakland. Seems like Antonio Brown is a distant nightmare from which the Raiders awoke. 

Atlanta? This franchise has been dying a slow death from the collapse from Super Bowl LI. There were no real expectations. 

No. The cities are Dallas and Cleveland and the issues come down to coaching. 

Dak Prescott has more than surpassed expectations considering the former fourth rounder was drafted by flyer after owner Jerry Jones lost on now-busted, Paxton Lynch. But, putting Tony Romo into the broadcast booth and last year’s playoff run combined with the talent the owner assembled has many,  including this writer and Jones, thinking Super Bowl or bust.

Then there’s the Browns. For those begging the team to waive the “Hard Knocks” rule where teams with rookie head coaches can’t do the show, the team is giving fans plenty of drama in the loss column. 

The quarterback is the most important position in all of sports and the franchise quarterback is often the most important person in the organization. 

But, they need help. 

Prescott bet on himself this past offseason, going into 2019--a contract year--without an extension. 

Baker Mayfield has regressed in his second season considering he has Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to throw the ball. 

Prescott seems to thrive when he has all his toys, but when Armani Cooper is out, the Cowboys seem to be out-of luck, too. 

Oddly enough, both teams can still win their respective divisions. But, if these tailspins continue, there will be some changes coming down on the field. 

Head coach, Jason Garrett, like his quarterback, is in the final year of his agreement in Dallas. Freddie Kitchens has never led a team at any level, let alone an NFL franchise that is a year removed from a 1-31 combined mark. 

Both coaches are in place thanks to a meddlesome owner/GM and another GM who wanted to avoid a power struggle which forced him out of KC. Garrett has kept his gig because it enables Jerry, while Kitchens got his job thanks to Baker’s endorsement and the fact he wouldn’t steer control from John Dorsey. 

Eventually, ownership is going to look upon its investments under center and have to make a wholesale change. 

Don’t kid yourself: Prescott will be paid in Dallas. But, that investment will need insurance. Same goes for Baker in Cleveland, as his franchise is actually a year and a half away from deciding to pick-up Mayfield’s fifth-year option. 

It’s gonna come down to coaching. And given the sensitivity of the decision makers, there are only three or four candidates that may be viable, and both these teams could be fighting over them. 

The obvious first choice is Oklahoma head coach, Lincoln Riley. Might as well call his offense the “Air RAGE” as it’s the new no-huddle, and the reason fired Texas Tech head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, is miraculously coaching the Arizona Cardinals. Riley produced back-to-school Heisman winners and No. 1 picks in Mayfield and Kyler Murray and playoff contenders in college. If Jones offered him $10 million a year, he’d get the coach who can take Dak to the next level while allowing Jerry to continue being Jerry. Meanwhile, Cleveland can pull the same stunt, with Mayfield already knowing Riley’s methods. 

But...

Riley was also sought after last year and stayed at school. 

And with two controlling guys in charge, they’re gonna wanna hire a coach who’s happy to have a job. 

See what Norv Turner is doing in Carolina with Kyle Allen? He also helped build Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers. He’s led NFL teams before. He could be a calm voice in either city, especially having a history with Jerry under Jimmy Johnson. 

Of course, this whole scenario would put Garrett out of work in Dallas. But, he may get a second chance in Cleveland. 

Mike McCarthy is also a possibility, but he’s a bit of a hothead himself, and probably wouldn’t mesh with his potential bosses. 

Sure, these are some longshot scenarios, but then again, power and desperation can lead to some bizarre marriages of convenience. 

And, of course, with personalities like Jones and Dorsey, power and ego come first. 

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