One of the downsides to being stuck on Loop .500 in the NFL other than insanity is the head coach never has any job security. But if you’re going to be mediocre, it does seem like the Cowboys organization offers safe harbor.
With the Cowboys sitting at 5-5, a half-game behind the Eagles in the quest for the NFC East title, Jerry Jones was asked whether head coach Jason Garrett would return for the 2014 season. Jones has been known to duck and dive similar questions, but he gave a very direct “yes” when pressed on the issue Thursday at Valley Ranch.
Perhaps he felt the pressure to steal a headline or two in the wake of the Rangers making a blockbuster trade to land first baseman Prince Fielder. Otherwise, there’s no good reason to make some type of public commitment to Garrett as he prepares for the biggest game of the season…to this point.
“We’re positioned to get in the playoffs,” Jones told a group of reporters Thursday. “We see logically how to get in the playoffs. We have that, for all practical purposes, in our control. Now that’s a pretty good spot to be in after 10 games. A lot of this story is to be played out, but it does not have a bearing on whether or not he will be our coach next year. It has no bearing on that.”
If we take Jerry at his word, he’s guaranteeing Garrett another season no matter how the season ends. There’s no reason in the world to make this proclamation in November. It’s not like having a vote of confidence from Jerry is going to inspire Garrett. Something more along the lines of, “I’ll let you know Jason’s job security in six weeks” would’ve been far more effective.
But Jones loves making folks feel comfortable. And the reality is that Garrett probably deserves the benefit of the doubt when you consider the hand he’s been dealt by Jones. This is a man who scoffed at the idea of selecting a defensive tackle in the first round of last April’s draft because Sharrif Floyd wasn’t a “quick-twitch” player.
Jones is also the man who likely forced Garrett to turn playcalling duties over to Bill Callahan. That’s gone so smoothly that some folks believe Garrett should’ve reclaimed those duties during the bye week. I had hoped that a blowout loss to the Saints might cause the Cowboys to make some fundamental changes. But Jerry’s blind optimism doesn’t permit those types of honest evaluations to take place.
“I’m disappointed that we don’t have a better record, but [Garrett] has got us in position to win the division and has got a team here that I firmly believe has the ability to be one of the better-playing teams at the end,” Jones said Thursday.
The only thing you could possibly base a statement like that on would be narrow losses to top AFC teams such as the Chiefs and Broncos. But since that 51-48 loss to the Broncos, the offense has gone into a funk. Jones was so proud that quarterback Tony Romo had kept pace with Peyton Manning in that game. But the Cowboys have somehow turned Romo into a cautious player who is constantly checking into quick outs to nondescript tight ends.
If you’re going to invest $55 million guaranteed in one player, you might as well take him out for a spin every now and then. Romo’s declining numbers are the biggest reason Garrett should’ve reclaimed playcalling duties.
But now that he’s been promised another season as head coach, maybe Garrett’s in no hurry to make a radical change. As Jerry said, these last six games don’t have any bearing on his head coach’s future.