No matter what happens between now and season’s end, whenever that may be for the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones will face intense questioning over Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys’ owner has vacillated from ultra-critical to over-the-top supportive this season, depending on the results of their most recent game. 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 now 6-6, having dropped two straight.
Garrett, unlike any other coach, is a lame duck, his contract set to expire in 2020. 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.”
This is a well-put-together Jones, the opposite of what we witnessed following the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day loss to the Buffalo Bills in which his club was thoroughly outclassed. After the game, an emotional Jones, tears in his eyes, declared that Garrett wouldn’t be fired because “it’s not the right time for me.”
“I’m just not going to make a coaching change. It’s not impossible for us to do more than just show up in the playoffs,” he said.
On Thursday, Jones also confirmed, essentially, a pregame report by ESPN’s Ed Werder, who learned via high-ranking sourcing that Jones and VP Stephen Jones will allow Garrett to finish the 2019 campaign “no matter what.”
“I know Jason very well. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to spend a football life with him, so I know him very well,” Jerry Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “… Nobody wants Jason to go, and I’m going to tell you this right now, he’s got my back, too.”
As explained ad nauseam, it makes sense to retain Garrett while Dallas is still competitive, hanging onto a narrow lead atop the NFC East. If the team was, say, 3-9 instead of 6-6, it likely would have forced Jones’ hand, despite his aversion to in-season firings.
Garrett can earn himself a little rope, professionally-speaking, by “leading” the Cowboys to a victory in Thursday’s road matchup at Chicago, an opportunity to rise above .500 while proving correct his boss’s assertion that he’s qualified to hold this job.
Or any job.
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Garrett Sidesteps Question on Future as Cowboys’ HC
Garrett sees the writing on the wall but chooses to look the other way. Ignorance is bliss to the Cowboys’ head man, who’s mastered the art of coach-speak during his decade-long reign in Dallas.
Reporters know better by now than to expect a straightforward answer from Garrett. Yet they prod and push and don’t allow the 53-year-old to compartmentalize his tenuous status with the organization.
Does Garrett feel like he’s fighting for his football life over the final month of the regular season?
“We’re just focused on having a great Thursday,” he said on 105.3 The Fan on Monday, via The Athletic, referring to Dallas’ Week 14 tilt. “That’s always been my approach whenever I’ve been involved in anything as a player or coach in this league. … We got to have a great day today.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL