MANY PEOPLE WANT GARRETT’S HEAD
By: Jeff Barnes
Jason Garrett has become public enemy #1 to not just Cowboys fans and the media, but anyone that hates the Cowboys. With the Cowboys now falling to 6-6 in a season where many believed them to be a Super Bowl contender has only amplified the screams for his demise. The recent comments by Jerry Jones have only fueled the fire even more. The disdain for Garrett and his coaching style has caused a divide in the fan base for several years now. The fans that support him and the fans that do not like him have clashed when he has had success. The biggest flaw in Garrett’s tenure is not that he doesn’t win, but that he does not silence the Cowboys haters by not going deeper in the playoffs. The one thing Cowboys fans hate is hearing about the lack of success in the postseason.
Garrett has faced criticism for many for different things. The media hates his bland, uneventful press conferences. This has drawn the ire of many in the media because he gives them little to talk or right about. When they want to know who to blame for the things that happen during games, he provides a highly calculated answer that is so measured it leaves them with nowhere to go. The fans hate his game management, and what looks to be numb demeanor on the sideline. They hate when he claps to try and keep his guys up when they are struggling. His 2-3 postseason record is often how he is judged. In each of his first three seasons, the Cowboys missed the playoffs by losing a winner take all final game of the regular season already giving fans the belief that he wasn’t a big game coach. They hated him calling the plays, hate his situational coaching, and believe he doesn’t get his players fired up. This year, in particular, the blame for the slow starts in games has been placed on him. The critics and fans have looked at every mistake, turnover, stalled drive, and anything they perceive to be negative and placed it around his neck.
The Cowboys have many reasons to want to keep Garrett. While he is under .500 in the playoffs, he boasts a 83-65 records overall as a head coach. What gets lost in the 8-8 seasons is that those teams were rebuilding. When he took over permanently in 2011, they replaced 3/5 of their offensive line, changed defenses twice, and were building with young talent at the skill positions. Those teams were at best 8-8 or 9-7. At their worst, they could have been 3-13 or 4-12. They were not contenders despite what fans and media said. The flaws on those rosters said differently. In 2014, while rebuilding their defense, they had a magical year going 12-4 and winning in the first round of the playoffs before the “Dez caught it” play happened against Green Bay. Then the narrative resurfaced that they choked again. In 2015, he had his first losing season when both his star receiver and QB went down in the first two weeks. Despite going 4-12, that team never quit. Since then, he has had three straight winning seasons winning the NFC East twice and advanced past the Wild Card round both times. That is where his teams struggle. They can’t seem to get past the divisional round. Unless this team flops, he will at least finish 8-8, giving him just one losing season during his 10-year tenure. While he has not gotten past the divisional round, they are always in the hunt for the playoffs. Not many coaches can say that every year.
Not to mention that Garrett’s teams have never quit on him. That has been one of the staples of his tenure. His team’s fight until the end. Right now, with the Cowboys at 6-6, they are still leading the NFC East. That means nothing to the fans that want him gone. Many of his former players will continue to believe in him after their gone. Some former players like Dez Bryant and Terrell Owens have gone after him on social media. Both players have their own ax to grind with him. His ability to evaluate talent as the son of longtime scout Jim Garrett has been invaluable to getting young players in the draft that fit what he wants to do on offense, as evidenced in the pick of Dak Prescott. When Tony Romo stayed down on that turf in Seattle, Garrett and the Cowboys adapted and went on to win 11 straight games without Romo.
The Cowboys have to decide whether to stay the coarse and trust in Garrett to right the ship or watch it slowly sink as the captain goes down with the ship. Many fans are pushing for Lincoln Riley. Some want established coaches like Sean Payton. Those are flawed options as only two Cowboys coaches (Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer) have led their teams to National titles and Super Bowls. Both of them coached the same Cowboys teams. Coaches like Nick Saban, Dennis Erickson, Steve Spurrier, Lou Holtz, and Chip Kelly all have failed to duplicate the success that they had in college. Getting an established Coach like Payton, who is still under contract, would cost Dallas draft picks they can ill afford to give up. They have so many free agents coming up that they can not afford trade away picks for a coach as they will need them to replace the players they can not re-sign. That would only handicap the coach you gave up the picks for. College coaches are involved in recruiting talent for their programs. When they get to the NFL, there isn’t a recruiting class. You have to work the draft. There must be trust that your GM and scouting department will give you the talent you need. You don’t get 15-20 kids to stash on your roster. It won’t be easy replacing Garrett. Especially with an unknown.