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Waiting on Garrett

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The Cowboys coaching search has settled for a moment, after a warp-speed move on Jason Garrett to become "something" on Dallas's staff. From all appearances, Garrett has been on Jerry Jones' mind for a while. The speed with which Jones moved to speak with the Garrett and the full-press marathon interview session he went through yesterday indicate that Jones has had a serious interest in Garrett.

Garrett is still a relative unknown to me in terms of his coaching. I haven't followed his progress at other stops and have read very little about him before the past few days. Of course I remember his stint in Dallas as a back-up QB in our glory days, and even from that time I remember people saying he was very intelligent and had the characteristics of a coach even when he was playing. As I went around the web today reading about Garrett, I came across nothing but effusive praise from others around the league.

Here's a sample:

"He's a rising star, as they say," said Rams coach Scott Linehan, who had Garrett as his quarterbacks coach in 2005 while serving as Dolphins offensive coordinator. "He's got what it takes to do this. He's different than a lot of ex-players in that he probably knew all along he was going to coach when he got done playing."

"I think Jason's got that `it' that a lot of those guys have that have the job now and in the past," [analyst Randy] Cross said while attending the Senior Bowl. "He's a real good people person as far as dealing with the players. If you just want an `X' and `O' guy, there's a gazillion of those around. But I think he's got a real good imagination and an idea of what he wants in a football team, which I think will really serve him well."

There's a lot more like this out there from the likes of Dave Campo, Norv Turner and others. While we may not be all that familiar with Garrett outside of his Cowboys playing days, it seems Garrett has made a big impression on coaches around the league. The Cleveland Browns wanted him as their offensive coordinator a month ago, but the Dolphins refused permission for Cleveland to speak with him while they worked on their head coaching position. Nick Saban wanted him to go to Alabama with him to serve as offensive coordinator but Garrett wanted to stay in the NFL.

When I first heard his name brought up in connection with the Cowboys coaching staff, I was intrigued, but ill-informed about his qualifications. The more that I read, especially the comments from coaches across the league, the more comfortable I am getting with the idea of him being the offensive coordinator. But it's possible he could be more. The idea of him becoming the head coach and replacing Parcells doesn't seem as far-fetched as it did when I first heard it.

Everybody's noticed the trend recently of hiring young assistants- and in NFL head coach parlance anybody under 45 is still considered young - who show a lot of promise. The Cowboys could possibly be following that trend and it may turn out to be a good thing. Garrett's previous relationship with Jerry Jones obviously doesn't hurt because for any coach coming to Dallas, they must be able to deal with an owner who is more involved than most.

All the indications point to the Cowboys hiring Jason Garrett as their offensive coordinator for the time being while they decide on his permanent role in Dallas. Why the rush to hire him? As we noted before, the Dolphins want a decision so they can make decisions about their own staff.

Garrett, 40, has been Miami's quarterbacks coach the last two seasons and is considered a fast-rising assistant. The Dolphins granted him permission to speak with the Cowboys late Tuesday but with a hitch: The Cowboys had to make a decision on whether to offer Garrett the offensive coordinator job by today. He has an offer waiting from the Dolphins to return to Cam Cameron's staff. There is no time limit on Garrett possibly being named head coach.

In the meantime, the Cowboys have asked and received permission from the San Diego Chargers to speak to Wade Phillips about the head coaching position. No interview has been arranged yet, but my guess is that it will be coming soon. Once that's accomplished, Jerry has to make his decision.

Right now, it looks as if the Cowboys will either be hiring Jason Garrett to coach this team into the future, or they will turn it over to Wade Phillips with Garrett serving an apprenticeship. With Phillips, they would get the security of an established veteran coach who knows the 3-4 defense as well as anybody in the league. And Dallas needs some help desperately to fix a broken defense. So this would be a safe move that might bring Jones some happy returns.

But if Jones wants to take a gamble, Jason Garrett could be his man. If that happens, I'll be OK with it, as long as they get him an experienced defensive coordinator.

One long-shot you can cross of the list of potential replacements is Lovie Smith.

Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips said the organization will not allow any other team to speak with coach Lovie Smith, who is in the last year of his contract.

"Absolutely not," Phillips said during a news conference Wednesday. "Lovie Smith is our coach."
Phillips addressed rumors regarding the Cowboys' interest in speaking with Smith following the Super Bowl.

"Reading all that frankly rankles me, and if there's any truth to those rumors, we'll deal with that at a league level," Smith said, alluding to possibly filing tampering charges if a team went outside the normal channels to pursue Smith.

"He's our coach. He's under contract to us, and whether it's Dallas or any other club that comes sniffing around, that's not right, and we're not going to let it happen."

In some other Cowboys' news:

Veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn said he underwent surgery on his left knee and right ankle. Glenn said he now can get into a defensive stance, something he couldn't do during the season.

Glenn considered having the surgery in September but elected to wait until after the season.