Too little, too late for the Dallas Cowboys. Close but no cigar for Jason Garrett.
The squad saved one of their best performances of the season for last, dominating the rival Washington Redskins, 47-16, in the 2019 finale. The result ultimately was for naught, as 9-7 Philadelphia captured the NFC East title — and eliminated the 8-8 Cowboys from playoff contention — with their win over the Giants.
And the clock has run out on the embattled Garrett, who’s spent the past three months perched atop a white-hot coaching seat. The 53-year-old’s contract officially expired just as the game clock hit triple zeroes. A wide-ranging search for Garrett’s successor is imminent.
Or is it?
“I have no idea,” Garrett responded when asked if he expects to return, per Pro Football Talk. “. . .I want to be the coach of the Dallas Cowboys. We will see what happens.”
The Cowboys’ full-time head man since 2011, Garrett’s compiled an 85-67 regular-season record at the helm. Persistent reports have stated that Garrett needed to make the postseason, then reach the NFC Championship Game (something he’d never accomplished), to keep his job.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo revealed Sunday morning that Dallas players are actively advising owner Jerry Jones regarding the next coach.
“As much as people talk about Jerry Jones being the guy that makes all the decisions in the Cowboys’ building, he has actually sought the advice of some key players this past week and is expected to do so going forward,” Garafolo said. “Jones [is] really taking the feedback on what went wrong because he wants to know what the players think as he goes forward and makes some key decisions for the Cowboys organization.”
It would be a downright shocking development if Garrett was brought back. Consider: He oversaw the most fruitless decade in franchise history with only three playoff appearances across 10 seasons, ESPN’s Ed Werder noted. The 2019 outfit, which began 3-0, had Super Bowl aspirations, propped up by a championship-caliber (or so we thought) roster that was continually hampered by poor coaching.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport floated three supposed front-runner candidates expected to draw Cowboys consideration: Oklahoma HC Lincoln Riley, Baylor HC Matt Rhule, and former Panthers HC Ron Rivera, who’s the early favorite for Washington’s opening.
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Jones Says Changes on the Way, But …
The Cowboys’ czar addressed the media for nearly a half-hour following the season-ending victory. Much of his presser was verbal diarrhea — a whole lot of nothing, as Jones himself likely hasn’t yet finalized anything. But he did seem to admit that a major overhaul is forthcoming.
“I do. I do. I make changes, and I certainly can see myself making a lot of changes in a lot of areas,” he said, per Pro Football Talk. “Just the times call for that. I am about change. I change a lot.”
Bizarrely, though, Jones repeated in his post-game remarks that he may not make a decision at all before being reminded Garrett is no longer under contract. So, he will have to reach a decision: Re-sign him or wave bye-bye. He doesn’t need to, and won’t, make it immediately, however.
“This is a difficult time, a very difficult time,” Jones said, via PFT. “We’ve got a lot to consider here. I do. It’s well known. There is no question that Jason has been pleasant part of my life. It’s certainly more than football — from being a player here, what he has meant as a coach, what he has meant as a working associate. He has just got a place for me. That is that. If he’s coaching for the Cowboys or if he has not, he has done that. We have had that kind of life together.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL