Back when Jason Garrett was first given the full time gig as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys by Jerry Jones, there were a lot of skeptics. Many felt that Jones was elevating him to be another "yes man". The term "puppet" was thrown around. Garrett was inexperienced and Jones' reputation was that he would never yield enough authority to another head coach to allow him to do his job correctly. For the next three seasons, disappointing 8-8 records, each with a failed opportunity to win the division in the last game, kept the skepticism alive.
Then came 2014. Although the season would end with another disappointment, it also included a 12-4 regular season record, the NFC East title, and a win in postseason. The ultimate loss to the Green Bay Packers hurt badly because the team had so many opportunities to take charge of the game. But they stumbled, and saw the dream end. Nonetheless, it demonstrated that the Cowboys are once again a team to be reckoned with. And with a young roster, the future looks bright. With late word that Garrett has been re-signed, that Rod Marinelli will also return and Scott Linehan is possibly returning, Dallas has now added an element of stability that could pay huge dividends in the future.
Per a source, a deal for Scott Linehan is in the works but its not as close as Garrett and Marinelli— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) January 13, 2015
And almost everyone covering the Cowboys agrees that Garrett is the man to continue the upward progression in Dallas. Now, that is. The more honest of the writers have admitted that they may have been wrong in their opinions about the head coach earlier. Bryan Broaddus, who I follow for his clear expertise and knowledge of the team, is one that has fessed up when he was reminded that he had a very different take on things not long ago.
Where Broaddus was succinct in his admission, another analyst I also respect highly went into great detail about the evolution of his opinion.
Bob Sturm's piece is a must read for anyone interested in the Cowboys and how things work in the organization. And he is very open about where he was wrong then (quoting from an article from two years ago).
I would not argue hard against the firing of Jason Garrett provided it was to turn the team over to a certain type of coach that could be seen as more of an organizational architect. That could be defined a number of ways, so let me clearly explain that to me that is the top tier of expensive, leverage-possessing coaches who could demand and receive a certain level of authority that is rarely afforded to a coach of the Cowboys. Since Jimmy Johnson, this was only given to Bill Parcells - a man who did not take over every responsibility when he was here, but he had the guts to say whatever was on his mind and only deferred to his boss when he wanted to.
Sturm especially lamented the fact that the Cowboys were still being bullied by other teams. This was prior to the drafting of Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, and shows that it sometimes takes time to do the job right. Now, Sturm has a very different view of things.
But, the 5-year plan of Jason Garrett (well, 4.5 years) has come to the juncture where Jerry Jones will sign up for what we assume will be another 5. Thanks to Garrett's steady progress in making over this roster into the grand vision of replicating the team he was part of twenty years ago, Garrett's contract is certainly already signed. He is here for the long haul and with the help of a front office that disguises the focal point of credit very well (unless you are the type that believes Jerry is watching tape right now - for you, he was right all along!), they have put together a roster that legitimately looks a few pieces away. There is little question that in 6 months, there will be some 2015 preseason publications touting the Cowboys as the predicted NFC Super Bowl representative for Super Bowl 50.
The retention of Garrett is something that I always thought would happen as long as his team did not have a major meltdown this year. I never believed that he was on a hot seat prior to the end of his contract. 2014 always looked like the make or break year for him, and everything Jerry Jones said and did fit that idea. I take a little pride that I had pretty much the same outlook all along. This is from one of the first posts I wrote here back in September of 2011.
I really believe Jerry trusts Jason as much as he can ever trust someone else to call the shots on his team. I would submit the 2011 draft and the overall approach to personnel as evidence. The team only made one real attempt at landing a big name free agent, and when that fell through at the last minute, it just moved on and took a very smart, long range approach, going younger and picking the best player at each position. That is such a break from recent history, I have to think it is clear evidence Jerry has turned most of the control over to Jason and perhaps the heir apparent, Stephen Jones.
It actually took three more years before I think Jerry Jones really turned as much power over to Garrett as he needed, and Jerry has to be given credit for pushing Garrett to give up the play-calling to become more of a "walk-around" head coach, but now the plan has come to fruition. Over the past four seasons, Garrett has sold his philosophy, embodied in the infamous "process", to everyone from the owner's suite to the practice squad. Now he and many of his assistant coaches are getting paid. And the money Jerry is spending is wisely invested, indeed.