Loss to Eagles could put Garrett out of work

Jason Garrett’s job is safe and secure. That could change by the time Sunday night turns into Monday.

Lose to the Eagles, and things could take a sudden turn overnight.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been steadfast in his support of Garrett, despite the Cowboys barely being on the playoff radar at 5-6 and stumbling through a season full of penalties and mistakes.

This being just Garrett’s second full season in charge, he deserves another year to craft the team in his image. His first full season, 2011, was marred by a labor dispute that cost him valuable off-season work with the team.

This season could also be written off because of the multitude of injuries the Cowboys have suffered. Of course, other than the season-opening win over the Giants, they haven’t really played much better when at full health.

As bad as the Cowboys have been, the Eagles are in far worse shape. They’re a shadow of a club right now with a 3-8 record and stuck in a seven-game tailspin.

The team the Cowboys will face Sunday night won’t have quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy or receiver DeSean Jackson.

They are coming off a 30-22 loss to the inept Carolina Panthers. Before that, it was a 31-6 whipping at the hands of the so-so Redskins.

Eagles coach Andy Reid will be given a blindfold and cigarette before he walks onto the sideline at Cowboys Stadium. His departure is a foregone conclusion.

Garrett’s job is safe despite growing rumblings, especially after losing the Thanksgiving game to the Redskins. But those tremors will turn into a full-scale eruption if the Cowboys don’t take care of the Eagles.

A loss to hapless Philly will have Cowboy fans deserting ship even faster than they already are. Jerry Jones is a businessman at heart. He can’t ignore the trends.

A generation of fans has grown to adulthood without seeing the Cowboys play in a Super Bowl. Local TV ratings are plummeting for Cowboys’ games. They might still be a draw across the country, but they are losing their core audience.

Jones might have been able to ignore the chants of Bears fans when Chicago visited in October, but he’d have to be blind to miss all the RG3 jerseys on Thanksgiving. It will get worse: Cowboys Stadium will feel like a Steelers home game in two weeks.

If the Cowboys lose to the Eagles, there could be more empty seats than full when the Saints visit in two weeks.

A loss to the Eagles, and it won’t just be fans bailing. Garrett could lose the team.

It’s worth asking how much of a grip Garrett has on the team anyway. Garrett came in with a mission to change the culture around the practice facility, and by most accounts he’s done that.

During the week, players are no longer sloppily dressed for practice and planes, or arriving late to meetings. But on Sundays, there’s been little of the sharpness and discipline Garrett demands at Valley Ranch.

Garrett oversees the offense and is the play caller. Yet every game, the Cowboys have trouble getting the ball snapped before the play clock runs out. Then there’s Garrett’s infamous struggles with clock management.

Last week, the Cowboys ran a quarterback sneak on first down. Because they didn’t know they had gained a first down on the previous play.

None of this instills confidence in a head coach.

This week, Jones shot down the idea of a play caller being brought in, saying that Garrett’s plate isn’t too full.

The last thing Jones wants to do is search for a new coach, but that chore could fall on his plate with a disastrous result against the Eagles. If the Cowboys are capable of losing Sunday, then they are capable of ending the season in a nosedive.

Garrett can withstand missing the playoffs another season, but it would truly be a test of Jones’ patience if a loss to the lowly Eagles is followed by total collapse and empty stadiums.

Take care of business Sunday night, and the sun will shine brightly on the Cowboys Monday morning. Lose, and they could see a season descend into darkness.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire