Reason #1. The Cowboys have not improved under Garrett. His best year, BY FAR, was his first year. Since then, the Cowboys offense has been mediocre, at best. And the trend line for the offense with him as head coach is going down.
Jason Garrett is first and foremost the offensive coordinator for Dallas. And his initial success as Offensive Coordinator under Bill Parcells is why he was offered head coaching jobs at Baltimore and Atlanta, and was interviewed for HC jobs in Detroit, Denver, and St. Louis.
So how has the Dallas offense fared under Jason Garrett? He was hired as OC in Jan. 2007, and as HC on Nov. 8, 2010.
2007. 365.7 YPG, 3rd. 28.4 PPG, 2nd.
2008. 344.5 YPG, 13th. 22.6 PPG, 18th.
2009. 399.4 YPG, 2nd. 22.6 PPG, 14th.
2010. 364.3 YPG, 7th. 24.6 PPG, 7th.
2011. 375.5 YPG, 11th. 23.1 PPG, 15th.
2012. 375.6 YPG, 5th, 22 PPG, 18th.
Let's reflect on these numbers. Other than his first season as OC, Jason Garrett's offense has only once been in the top 10 offenses in the NFL in scoring, and that was ironically in the year that Wade Phillips was fired, and Tony Romo was lost to injury in the middle of the year. We scored more because we had to score more (as our defense was so bad). It was the very kind of desperation attack that we have only seen this year in the Giants game -- down by 23 -- the Cleveland game -- down by 13 at the half -- the Washington game -- down by 25 -- and the Bears game -- down by lots where the score kept getting worse.
Yet, during these years, Jason Garrett has had one of the most prolific passers in the NFL in Tony Romo. He's always had quality wide receivers. He's had one of the best tight ends in the game. He's had Pro Bowl running backs. He had an offensive line with 3 Pro Bowlers. But he hasn't been able to marshall the resources of the Cowboys into a top-10 offense in the NFL.
And look at the teams ahead of Dallas offensively in the all-important PPG. Playoff teams in bold.
2007 -- New England
2008 -- NO, San Diego, Giants, AZ, GB, Philly, Carolina, NE, Jets, Atlanta, Baltimore, Minn, Indy, Chicago, Tenn, Denver, Houston.
2009 -- NO, Minn, GB, San Diego, Philly, NE, Indy, Giants, Baltimore, Houston, AZ, Pitt, Atlanta
2010 -- NE, San Diego, Philly, Indy, Atlanta, Oakland
2011 -- GB, NO, NE, Detroit, San Diego, Carolina, Atlanta, Philly, Giants, Houston, SF, Baltimore, Jets, Buffalo.
2012 -- NE, Denver, Houston, NO, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Washington, Giants, Baltimore, GB, Chicago, Cincy, SF, Detroit, Minnesota, San Diego, Buffalo. (Bolding teams with winning records at this point.)
(Edit note: If you want to be one of 12 playoff teams, it helps to have a top-12 offense, but Dallas has mustered that only twice in Jason Garrett's tenure.)
Some of these are perennial offensive juggernauts with better QBs than Tony Romo. But many of them are not. Yet they have been able to score more than Dallas has been able to.
So, when people write -- "it's the personnel" -- I shake my head and say -- "no, it's not." Jason Garrett has had good enough personnel to field a better offense. Just look at some of the teams ahead of Dallas in offense and ask yourself if all of them have better personnel.
Plus, when I look at the personnel on the current Dallas Cowboys, I don't really blame Jerry Jones, because I believe Jason Garrett has enough pull with JJ to have gotten the players he has wanted over the last two offseasons. I see this as fully and completely Jason Garrett's team. And I also see a team that is 18th in the NFL in scoring. And that's just not acceptable.
Reason #2. The team does not play disciplined football.
This is the head-scratcher for me. By all accounts, Jason Garrett is a meticulous person, with an exacting attention to detail. Why is he unable to translate that same character onto the football team? The penalties that we commit are atrocious, and they are often committed by our biggest stars. The dumb things that we do are countless. Last game it was the QB sneak on first down because we didn't know what down it was. On the flip side, why didn't we do the 1-yard plunge late in the game against the Giants to get 4 more downs to get a game-leading TD? What about the clock mismanagement at the end of the Baltimore game? Or the kicker-freezing time out in the Arizona game?
I'm just giving examples here. There are dozens more that people could offer.
My point is severalfold:
1. The problem is there.
2. The problem is not getting any better.
3. The problem is not isolated to rookies or low-level players who need to learn or be cut. It runs throughout the roster, and is repeated year after year.
Plus, if Jason Garrett's mantra is to put only the RKGs -- "Right Kind of Guys" -- on the roster, then is his definition of an RKG someone who plays undisciplined football by making mistakes at the worst kind of time?
Reason #3. Jason Garrett knows what needs to be done, but he can't get it done.
Jason Garrett understands that turnovers kill a team. Here's one example of him talking about it to the team. Does it really make a difference? Tony Romo did have two games with no picks. But then last week, he was picked off twice and Bryant fumbled, all three turnovers became Washington TDs, and that was the ball game. Turnovers killed us last year in the Lions and Jets games, and there was much Jason Garrett talk about turnovers in the offseason, but this year we are practically worst in the NFL in turnover ratio.
You could say the same thing about penalties.
The same thing about finishing games. On this score, just like last season, there were many games that could and should have been won. Last year it was the meltdown against the Jets and Lions and Giants. This year, we should have beaten Baltimore. In the second Giants game, we played great in coming back to take the lead, but couldn't finish the job. Against Atlanta and Washington, we couldn't get a stop that would give us a chance to win or tie.
My bottom line is that Jason Garrett hasn't shown the ability to get his team to follow the principles he is trying to teach them.
I like certain things about Jason Garrett. I believe he is far more on top of things as HC than Wade Phillips was. I think he does an above-average job at personnel issues. The Cowboys' drafts with Jason as HC were much better than the ones with Wade Phillips as HC.
But I have no faith that Jason Garrett is suddenly going to get his offense to work, or get his players to stop making mistakes and beating themselves. This year's team is worse than last year's team, and for no reason. We improved our personnel, yet have played much worse, falling behind every game at home, and nearly every game on the road. Our turnovers are up despite an offseason focus on trying to keep them down.
I feel basically the same way about Rob Ryan, who should also be shown the door if Garrett is fired. Like Garrett, he has a reputation, but hasn't backed it up with performance. His teams never generate a lot of turnovers, which is the game in the NFL. So, he looks better in yardage rankings (meaningless) than points rankings (the only true measure).
I do have one caveat, however. Dallas is 5-6, and almost in control of its own destiny. The Giants are going to come back to the pack, and if Dallas beats Washington in the rematch, it would likely get into the playoffs. So, if Garrett pulls that off -- gets Dallas into the playoffs this season -- I would give him another chance. If not, I would make a serious play for Sean Payton, who does know how to coach an offense into a scoring juggernaut.