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Cowboys still have key staff role to fill after Schottenheimer's OC promotion

The naming of Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator signals a big change at the top of the Cowboys’ current org chart. Even though he won’t be calling the plays on Sundays, he’ll play a vital role (even if the specifics of that role are not yet obvious to outside observers) in the day-to-day operations of the team at every practice, around the facility, and on game days.

But the 49-year-old’s promotion within the staff leaves a new hole to be filled. And recent history suggests that Cowboys fans should keep a close eye on who is tabbed to move in to that back-of-house office at The Star.

Prior to his hiring as OC, Schottenheimer was listed as an “offensive consultant” for the team, a job he was hired for in March 2022. He replaced Ben McAdoo, who had also held the consultant’s position for just one season.

The role, first created in 2021 by head coach Mike McCarthy for McAdoo (himself a former NFL head coach), has been that of an advance-opponent scout: the person who’s looking ahead to the team that comes after whoever the team currently prepping for. So rather than the staff waiting to crack the books on, say, the Week 10 opponent until after Week 9 goes final (or having to take away from Week 9 prep for a sneak peek), Schottenheimer- and McAdoo before him- has already done that work and gotten a head start for the offensive and defensive coordinators.

The consultant is a pre-game planner who basically lives one week in the future, as compared to the rest of the team.

As the job has evolved over two seasons, a key component has been the presence of the consultant in defensive meetings, “to give the coaches a set of eyes from the offensive side of the ball to consider,” as SI‘s Albert Breer put it this week.

“I’ve talked to Cowboys DC Dan Quinn a couple of times about the job McAdoo and Schottenheimer have done,” Breer wrote, “and he was over the moon in breaking down the benefits having someone in that role has had for him and that defense.”

Sure, there’s the DQ Effect. Or chalk it up to Micah Parsons. But a higher quality of pre-game planning is certainly a factor, too; it’s not pure coincidence that the Cowboys defense has been outstanding ever since the consultant’s role became a thing in Dallas.

The work has also helped the men who have performed that duty. McAdoo left only because he was hired by Carolina to be the Panthers’ offensive coordinator. In his first season at the helm in Charlotte, the team notched two more wins than their 2021 total and finished with an improved leaguewide ranking in: points scored, offensive yards, yards per play, passing yards, rushing yards, and percentage of drives ending in a score.

Now Schottenheimer is an OC again, after one year doing the same consultant’s job.

“I think McAdoo would tell you that the experience allowed him to become a better coordinator when he got the shot to call plays again with the Panthers last year,” Breer notes, “and I think it’ll help Schottenheimer, too.”

In first crafting the position from scratch, McCarthy leaned on his close relationship and long history with McAdoo, who served on his Green Bay staff from 2006 to 2013. (They had also worked together in San Francisco and New Orleans.)

When he hired Schottenheimer, McCarthy continued the trend of bringing aboard staffers with whom he shares a personal connection; Brian’s father Marty Schottenheimer gave McCarthy his first NFL job, McCarthy and Brian were on the elder Schottenheimer’s Kansas City staff together in 1998, and the Cowboys coach still references things that “Marty” said or did in a healthy percentage of his press conferences.

“I am very happy to have Brian take on this key role with our team,” McCarthy said following his promotion, per the team website. “He has been an important part of our staff already and has a great grasp of where we are and where we want to go. Brian also has an exceptionally strong foundation, history and relationships beyond his time here that translate very well into understanding what our approach to operating and executing will be for the future. This will be an exciting and efficient transition for us that I am confident will help yield the growth and results we all want and expect.”

What Schottenheimer does with his new OC role remains to be seen, but how the Cowboys fill the consultant position that they, presumably, have seen the value of after back-to-back 12-win campaigns, will also be fascinating to see.

Though a small sample size, history says it will be someone with NFL cred and an offense-centric mind. Breer suggests ex-Ravens OC Greg Roman, though there is no obvious connection to McCarthy. Veteran assistant Brian Angelichio, the Vikings passing game coordinator who interviewed for the Dallas OC job and spent three years under McCarthy in Green Bay, might also be a name worth monitoring (if he doesn’t get hired for Roman’s former spot in Baltimore).

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