Mike Lombardi, a former NFL executive, isn’t sold on the idea that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett will be employed past 2017. Lombardi, who most recently worked for the Patriots until 2016 and former GM of the Browns, is now a full-fledged member of the media. More recently, he had some disparaging remarks to make about Dallas’ chosen one at head coach:
“Jason Garrett’s been a head coach for six years. He’s 50 years old. He’s going to be 51 next year. He should be in the prime of his head coaching career," Lombardi said. “Instead, he’s made two playoffs. I mean he goes 12-4. Then he goes 13-3 last year and he loses at home to a bad Green Bay defense.”
There isn’t much to argue there as he’s simply pointing out the facts of last season. However, Bill Belichick, who is responsible for Lombardi’s Super Bowl ring in 2015, didn’t win his first ring as a head coach until two months before his 51st birthday. Lombardi was certainly not finished with Garrett as he went a little deeper with the dagger, questioning what Garrett’s job is since relinquishing play calling:
“When you watch Jason Garrett coach, you really never sense he’s got control of the game. He’s subcontracted everything out. [Rod] Marinelli does the defense. [Scott] Linehan does the offense. [Rich] Bisaccia does the kicking game. I just don’t get the sense this guy’s command of the game and that’s really where the head coach needs to be.”
To be fair, Garrett was asked to give up the playcalling duties by his owner and even his mentor, Jimmy Johnson, believed it would make him a better coach. I don’t see the point in skewering him for being smart enough to get the right coaches around him. Garrett has his hand in every aspect of his team. In fact, Garrett has been instrumental in the Cowboys’ recent draft success. Say what you will about Garrett but he’s been a better evaluator of talent, just ask Bryan Broaddus.
Lombardi continues on with his lambasting of the reigning Coach of the Year:
“I don’t see Jason besides clapping and cheering players," he said. "Losing to Green Bay was a revealing loss in this sense. It showed that his team wasn’t ready to play and couldn’t play a different style. I don’t see how Jason Garrett’s going to get better," he said. "He’s in the prime of his life and I don’t think he’s a good enough head coach.”
“If I’m a Cowboys fan, I have real questions about Jason Garrett as the head coach," Lombardi said. "He’s supposed to be in the prime, he’s had six years to be a head coach. He was an offensive guru that never had a lot of roo in his goo. He was never really never this innovator offensive guy."
He questions how Jason Garrett could improve without actually making note of his improvements over his six years. Garrett has become a far better coach than he was in 2010. As far as innovative offenses, the Cowboys haven’t had trouble putting up the production. Dating back to him being a coordinator, he had the third-best offense in the league in 2007. They were second in total offense in 2009.
In his interim year, he led the Cowboys to 5-3, without Tony Romo, and still had the seventh-ranked offense when Jon Kitna was the quarterback. As the head coach, he’s only had three seasons outside of the Top-10 in offense. Mind you, in 2015, he was without Tony Romo. The Cowboys have had the league’s leading rusher in two of the last three years, finishing fourth in 2015 with an aging Darren McFadden.
Lombardi has a point about playoff success and that’s something that will ultimately define Jason Garrett. Here’s one more jab at Garrett for 2017:
“I’m excited to see is Jason Garrett going to be the .500 coach I think he is or if has he done something this summer to really improve himself," he said. "I say the latter. I say he’s going to be a .500 coach.”
Lombardi has two rings, one as a scout for the 1984 49ers and one with the Patriots of 2014 as a coach’s assistant. Well, Jason Garrett has two as a backup quarterback to Troy Aikman, so how about it? Lombardi has 30 years of NFL experience but has only one year of GM experience and was fired by the Browns multiple times as well as the Eagles. His career as someone of power within an organization hasn’t been stellar and he left the Patriots after 2015.
He seems to be fitting in well at his new gig at FS1 with guys like Colin Cowherd, even making another tired statement that we hear almost every year:
"I think head coaches make a huge difference come playoff time and Garrett has won one playoff game in his six-year career. If I’m Jerry I’m nervous," Lombardi said. "The guy that’s always lurking, he’s always around the corner is Sean Payton.”
Lastly, there is no issue to take with his criticism of Garrett’s or the Cowboys playoff success. They have two playoff wins and a handful of appearances since their last Super Bowl in 1995. The Dallas Cowboys are well aware of their underachieving but they also might not have those two playoff wins without Garrett. Lombardi can be a blowhard about Jason Garrett but when he neglects to give necessary credit for what Dallas did last season with a rookie quarterback, it kind of seems like grandstanding.
They got outplayed by perhaps the best pure quarterback in the NFL with his Super Bowl winning head coach and still almost won the game. At the end of the day, Mike Lombardi has the same amount of rings as the head coach he just roasted, maybe that’s what eats him up inside.