Cowboys Met With Former Longtime NFL Coach About HC Job: Report

Marvin Lewis

Getty Marvin Lewis

It’s a busy afternoon at The Star on Saturday, as the Dallas Cowboys initiated the process of finding their next head coach.

Coinciding with the news that Dallas will interview former Packers head man Mike McCarthy, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the team has also spoken with ex-Bengals HC Marvin Lewis.

Despite conflicting information regarding Lewis’ meeting, the Dallas Morning News confirmed it has already taken place, preceding McCarthy’s sitdown with the Jones family.

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.

He’s the first candidate to interview for the Dallas gig. The club reportedly has also expressed interest in college coaches such as Oklahoma’s Lincoln 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 have fulfilled the league’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams interview minority candidates for HC and general manager positions before they are filled.

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Cowboys Narrow ‘Focus’ To Former NFL Coaches

The Cowboys are targeting candidates who own big-league experience over those considered up-and-comers. Owner Jerry Jones previously expressed apprehension about gambling on the unknown — i.e. 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.

“They are, in fact, laying the groundwork for a coaching search, with the focus on former NFL head coaches,” Rapoport said Saturday.

Meanwhile, it appears as if they’re simply allowing the clock to run out on incumbent coach Jason Garrett’s contract, which expires Tuesday, Jan. 14. Rapoport shared the “expectation” that Garrett moves on from the organization and his deal simply lapses.

This echoes recent scoop from ESPN’s Ed Werder, who reported Thursday that Garrett’s ouster will transpire “soon” and the quest to find his successor will be far-reaching but come together “quickly.”

“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.”

Background on McCarthy

If the Joneses are 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 beginning his Green Bay head-coaching reign 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.

Last January, McCarthy interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ HC job, which went to Freddie Kitchens, and the New York Jets’ opening, which was filled by Adam Gase. He then announced his intention to sit out the 2019 season, with an eye on returning in 2020.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL