Cowboys’ Jason Garrett Emerges as Frontrunner for NFL Head-Coaching Job

Jason Garrett

Getty Former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett

If (when?) he’s cut loose from the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett likely won’t be out of work for long.

The beleaguered Garrett is considered a frontrunner to fill the Carolina Panthers‘ head-coaching opening, which became available Tuesday when Carolina abruptly fired Ron Rivera.

Vegas sportsbook gives Garrett the second-best odds (5/1) to replace Rivera in 2020, behind only current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh (5/1). Other listed favorites include Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (11/2), Falcons HC Dan Quinn (6/1), and former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer (6/1).

Garrett, in the final year of his 2015 five-year extension, has compiled an 83-65 regular-season record and 2-3 postseason mark across 10 seasons at the helm of the Cowboys’ operation.

Rivera was canned before finishing his ninth year with the Panthers. He led the team to three NFC South titles and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. He logged a respectable 76-63-1 regular-season record but failed to win a playoff game since 2015.

The Panthers promoted secondary coach Perry Fewell to interim HC as they get an early jump into the league’s upcoming coaching carousel, on which Garrett could be (will be?) spinning.

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Garrett’s Fit in Carolina

Hired in 2011, Rivera was the NFL’s seventh-longest tenured coach. Garrett currently is the sixth-longest, having held his title for the past decade. It’s possible, but hardly probable, the Panthers opt for a retread after Rivera’s old-school ways clashed with owner David Tepper. It’s equally possible Tepper goes in an entirely different direction, plucking an up-and-coming assistant — the next Sean McVay, if that’s still en vogue.

Garrett’s offensive background may appeal to Carolina, considering the tenuous status of franchise quarterback Cam Newton, whose 2019 campaign was marred by a foot injury. Newton, who will undergo surgery, is under contract through 2020, though the club likely searches long and hard for his successor this offseason (Kyle Allen ain’t it).

Then again, one team’s trash isn’t necessarily another’s treasure. There’s a reason why Garrett draws such vitriol in Dallas, and it goes beyond his comical penchant for clapping. His coaching — or lack thereof — is the culprit behind the club’s two-game losing skid, the chief reason they’re 6-6 instead of 8-4, at the minimum. It’d make sense if Tepper doesn’t entrust Garrett with developing their next QB, whomever it may be.

Jerry Jones Makes Cryptic Statement on Garrett Extension

The Cowboys’ owner has vacillated from ultra-critical to over-the-top supportive this season. Garrett, like any other head coach, is praised when he’s winning and picked apart when he’s losing. The latter has been the norm over the last few weeks, with Dallas having dropped three of its last four games.

Garrett, unlike any other coach, is a lame duck, his contract set to expire. Many assume he’ll reside elsewhere next year, fueled by the reported belief the Cowboys are “done with him.”

Not so fast, cautions Jones, who claimed in an interview with 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday that Garrett is capable of winning a Super Bowl and predicts the longtime head man will retain his title — and perhaps his office at The Star.

“There is no bar,” Jones said regarding a potential Garrett extension, via Mark Lane of WFAA Sports. “When I say that, I don’t mean that there’s not a level of a point where I determined it’s just not working or determined that it’s working. But there’s many things. There’s boxes to be checked. Listen, Jason Garrett has checked a lot of positive boxes when you start looking at coaches and the aptitude and the quality of coach. They’re mistaken. He’s got a tremendous list of things that he’s about. You can say — and think about this, men — you can say that a guy that’s been coaching 10 years should have a Super Bowl. Do you want to list the thousands of coaches that don’t have a Super Bowl or the equivalent of it and have been coaching 10 years? And do you want to list the how many numbers that have multiple Super Bowls that have been coaching 10 years? My point is it’s a high, high bar. And, so, you got to look at how and what you’re doing and what we’re trying to do and what we’re about as an organization. I read something the other day that with Jerry’s money he ought to go out and whatever it takes hire a coach to win the Super Bowl. If I knew he could win a Super Bowl, then you might think like that. The problem is you don’t know who could guarantee you a Super Bowl. I’ve seen a lot of coaches. I’ve seen their names mentioned, but they can’t guarantee me a Super Bowl or guarantee my fans a Super Bowl. And I know that. And I know the things that have to go on and what has to fall right there to get it done. And, so, I approach when I look at coach, coaching. It isn’t just the head coach. I look at all coaches. I think about there’s no excuses. Who’s got the exclusive skills to get the job done so that collectively you can win a Super Bowl? But there are qualified people. Jason Garrett is one of them. In my opinion, Jason Garrett will be coaching in the NFL next year.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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