Once the season gets underway, and a team is looking for a change, the biggest move that team can make is to fire the head coach. If recent history is anything to go by, there will a couple of mid-season coaching changes this season, just as there will be coaching changes after the season. It's just another example of the NFL having become a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. And that applies to players, coaches and GMs (if the GM doesn't happen to be the owner as well).
Jason Garrett led the Cowboys to a 5-3 finish in 2010, but after starting 7-4 in 2011, he also coached the Cowboys to a 1-4 finish last season and missed out on the playoffs.
Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly published a hot-seat ranking yesterday of all 32 NFL head coaches. He has Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett ranked as the coach with the sixth lowest job security, arguing that Jerry Jones may not have the patience to see this thing through - and that no coach has lasted for more than four years under Jones.Here are Edholm's top six hot-seat coaches in order:
- Andy Reid, Philadelphia
- Norv Turner, San Diego
- Leslie Frazier, Minnesota
- Pat Shurmur, Cleveland
- Rex Ryan, New York Jets
- Jason Garrett, Dallas
I'm always wary of using tired old cliches like 'Jerry Jones has itchy trigger fingers', or 'not even Jimmy Johnson lasted for more than four years' as arguments in any discussion. I think that's simply lazy thinking. After all, the Cowboys never fired a coach mid-season. Until they did.
I'm also not going to comment on where Edholm has the individual coaches ranked on this list. But I think Edholm does have a point when he argues that expectations are high for Garrett and the Cowboys this year:
What Garrett needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Some believe Garrett must make the playoffs to keep Jones happy. They made two bold moves in the offseason at cornerback, signing Brandon Carr to a big deal and trading up for rookie Morris Claiborne, while alienating a third at the position (Mike Jenkins) in the process. The division is loaded again, with the Giants coming off a Super Bowl, the talented Eagles facing high expectations and the Redskins landing hot prospect Robert Griffin III, so some measure of perspective must be kept here. But Tony Romo is nearing the end of his prime at 32 and Jones is a wild card who might have his eye on another big catch at coach if the right person shows interest in the job, and he won’t hesitate to ace Garrett in that situation. It just would be a lot harder to fire the guy if the Cowboys make the postseason and, God forbid, win a game or two.
I agree that expectations are high - after all, Jones had made a lot of noise about some imaginary windows closing - but I don't think Jerry Jones is ready to abandon the Garrett approach just yet. Barring a total meltdown, of course.
Then again, Brian Galliford of SBNation's Buffalo Rumblings writes that being on the hot seat is almost par for the course for a Cowboys head coach:
Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys could belong to a list like this annually simply because a) he's not winning the Super Bowl every year, and b) he works for Jerry Jones.
A lot of the things that Jason Garrett has done so far "feel right". Of course, they also felt right last year, but that 8-8 record did not "feel right" at all, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. The fact is that success in the NFL is judged solely by the W/L column. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
If, as Edholm writes, making the playoffs is what Jones expects from Garrett, then at what point would Jones consider the Garrett experiment over? What about you as a Cowboys fan, at what point would you start calling for a new head coach? Would another 8-8 season be acceptable? Would you sit still if the Cowboys had a losing season?
What does Garrett need to deliver in his second full season as the Cowboys head coach?