A decade after removing his interim head coach title, and at least two meetings with upper management following a disappointing 2019 campaign, Jason Garrett will become a free agent, no longer hitching his wagon to the Dallas Cowboys‘ star. (Pun fully intended.)
According to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, the Cowboys on Sunday informed Garrett that he’s being relieved of his duties. Call it a firing; the 53-year-old’s contract officially expires on Jan. 14.
“Dallas Cowboys have informed Jason Garrett he is out as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. It’s official now,” Glazer said on video. “Dallas Cowboys have moved on from Jason Garrett as their head coach.”
The news was confirmed Sunday evening by ESPN insider Adam Schefter.
Garrett’s fate was thought to be decided after Dallas’ season-ending blowout of the Washington Redskins. The team finished 8-8 for the fourth time in the Garrett era. It was also the fourth time under his leadership they’ve failed to reach the playoffs.
Garrett met with the Jones family on Monday and Tuesday as part of his exit interviews — standard operating procedure at the end of a regular season. There was conflicting information on Garrett’s third sitdown with Jerry and Stephen Jones, which was expected after New Year’s Day. Garrett reportedly had campaigned to return in 2020.
A former NFL quarterback, Garrett scaled the coaching ladder in the late 2000s, first as Dallas’ offensive coordinator (2007), then assistant head coach (2008), then interim HC (2010). He was named the permanent head man in 2011, replacing Wade Phillips.
Overall, Garrett compiled an 85-67 regular-season record and 2-3 postseason mark, never advancing beyond the Divisional Round. 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.
Persistent reports throughout the campaign suggested that Garrett would need to capture the division crown and reach the NFC Championship Game to keep his job. That possibility became increasingly unrealistic as the year wore on, with the Cowboys blowing winnable games against the Jets, Bears, and Eagles — the Week 16 death knell.
Despite the writing plastered over the wall, underlined in red Sharpie, Garrett expressed a desire to stay put though conceded it’s clear as mud whether he’s indeed retained or, much to the delight of Cowboys fans, sent packing.
“I have no idea,” he said Sunday night, per Pro Football Talk. “. . .I want to be the coach of the Dallas Cowboys. We will see what happens.”
Glazer’s bombshell is an extension of ESPN’s Ed Werder Thursday report which claimed that Garrett “soon” will no longer be part of the organization and the quest to find his successor will be far-reaching but come together “quickly” with out-of-house interviews.
“Source: #Cowboys Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones have moved slowly and with “abundance of care and respect” for Jason Garrett,” Werder tweeted. “That phase expected to conclude soon with Garrett not part of organization. Next phase to involve candidate interviews will begin quickly thereafter.”
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Cowboys Reportedly Interview Two Candidates
The Cowboys’ coaching search started in earnest Saturday, as former Packers head man Mike McCarthy and former Bengals HC Marvin Lewis interviewed at The Star for the right to replace Garrett.
The club purportedly is targeting candidates who own big-league experience over those considered up-and-comers. Jerry Jones previously expressed apprehension about gambling on the unknown — i.e. Lincoln Riley’s transition to the pros — so it makes sense that he’s seeking more of a sure thing, or the closest he can come to it, anyway.
And if they’re looking for coaches with skin in the game, McCarthy certainly fits the bill. He spent nearly two decades as an NFL assistant — offensive coordinator for the Chiefs (1993-94), Saints (2000-04) and 49ers (2005), and quarterbacks coach for Kansas City (1995-98) and Packers (1999) — before taking the big seat in Green Bay in 2006.
Across 13 seasons as the Packers’ head man, McCarthy compiled a 125-77-2 regular-season record (.618) and a 10-8 mark in the playoffs. The Packers made the postseason nine times under his watch, including a 2010 run to Super Bowl XLV, where they defeated the Steelers, 31-25, delivering the legendary franchise its fourth Vince Lombardi trophy and 13th NFL title overall.
Lewis, 61, held the head-coaching seat in Cincinnati for a whopping 16 years, tallying a 131-122-3 regular-season record across 256 games from 2003-2018. His playoff record, though, is abysmal: 0-7. And his squads? Perennially average, never advancing beyond the Wild Card round. (Sound familiar?)
Lewis agreed to mutually part ways with the Bengals following the 2018 season. He was employed this last year as a special consultant at Arizona State, working alongside Herm Edwards.
Lewis was the first candidate to formally interview for the Dallas gig. The club reportedly has also expressed interest in college coaches such as Riley and former Ohio State HC Urban Meyer. On the NFL side, they’ve unofficially been linked to Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Vikings HC Mike Zimmer.
By sitting down with Lewis, the Cowboys fulfilled the league’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for HC and general manager positions before they are filled.
Jerry Jones Hinted at Sweeping Organizational Changes
The Cowboys’ czar, who claimed after the season finale that “there’s no door shut here,” previously suggested it’s Super Bowl-or-bust for the Cowboys. Meaning Garrett was you-know-what out of luck, as an 8-8 mark — the very definition of average — simply won’t do.
The NFL’s most mercurial executive, although he slow-played his final decision on Garrett, indicated that significant alterations to the franchise are forthcoming.
“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.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL