News broke that Jason Garrett is not expected to be given an extension this offseason and just like that, a great majority of Cowboys Nation can breathe a sigh of relief. The idea that fans aren’t going to have to endure much more of this mundane, going-nowhere “nothingness” that has cursed this Cowboys team is enough to give people hope. But alas, Jerry Jones’ gotcha nose.
The announcement that Garrett isn’t going to receive an extension is perceived by many that this is a “make or break year” for the head coach. In reality, every coach has something to prove each year. Success will buy you a little leeway, but as soon as you put together a couple straight losing seasons, suddenly you’re no longer the right guy for the job. Just ask Mike McCarthy.
The proverbial “hot seat” is nothing that Garrett is unfamiliar with. He was said to be in it during the 2014 season after three straight seasons finishing 8-8. He was said to be in it after the 4-12 season in 2015 when the team just collapsed after Tony Romo went down. And the seat had never been hotter after the team started 3-5 last season. But in each of those instances, Garrett turned around and took his team to the playoffs. Just when you think he’s got one foot out the door, the team steps it up and plays at a high level. It’s kept Garrett the team’s head coach for the last eight seasons.
Every time you ask him, Jones will tell you that he has complete faith in Garrett as a head coach. People continuously keep asking him about it as if they expect him to change his opinion, but each time the level of confidence expressed by Jerry grows stronger and stronger. A couple weeks ago, he even went as far as to say that Garrett would’ve had five head coaching offers had he been on the market after the regular season ended. If Jerry feels that Garrett would’ve been the hottest coaching commodity if available, then why not just retain what he already has? Simply put, Jones strongly believes Garrett is the right coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Whether he’s right or not remains unanswered, but this is what Jones believes.
But fans don’t believe that and for that reason there is a never-ending string of questions from the media that is always second-guessing the owner’s faith in Garrett. And now, those fans have been appeased with the idea that Jones would be ready to make a change if the Cowboys falter in 2019.
The real meat here is that Garrett’s approach is either going to make this team a champion or it’s not. Jones is privy to the fact that this team has been successful during Garrett’s tenure as coach. While there have been no Lombardi trophies, Garrett’s only had one losing season. Jones also knows that Garrett’s built a young team his way with the type of players he wants on this football team. He knows Garrett’s been handicapped by salary cap limitations for years and it’s required that the team remained patient and rebuild through the draft. Jones knows that Garrett’s influence has affected the draft process, the effort the players give on the football field, and the focus his players have week-in and week-out. Jerry also knows there’s a lot of tumultuous moments that go with the gig of being the head coach of the Cowboys and there is no cooler head to handle the adversity than Jason Garrett.
With each new day, more and more control is given to Garrett. Much to the chagrin of those still holding on to those “puppet” memes, it’s Garrett that’s pulling the strings. All Jerry’s coaches are gone. All Jerry’s risky free agent endeavors... also gone. Even those dice-roll draft picks to get something great at a lower cost have slowly faded away. The Cowboys just recently made a big trade to acquire Amari Cooper, something that quickly drew comparisons to flub-trades like Joey Galloway and Roy Williams. Jones crashed the team with those deals, but Cooper is different. He’s a “Garrett-guy.” The dynamic of how this organization does things has drastically changed and the reason for this is Jason Garrett.
People who hate Garrett will try to push all that credit to Stephen Jones or Will McClay. While those guys both deserve a lot of credit, let’s not forget they’ve been around before Garrett when the team was not operating in the manner in which they are now. I would even venture to suggest that McClay’s increased role with the team is directly related to Garrett’s influence or else why didn’t it happen sooner? And if you look around, Garrett’s influence is all over the team. In just 13 months, almost the entire offensive coaching staff has been blown up as five different positions have new coaches. Three of those new coaches are people Garrett’s coached in Dallas.
And now as Garrett enters another “lame duck” year, his job rests on the shoulders of a 29-year-old offensive coordinator who has just one year of coaching experience. Does Jason seem worried? No.
Garrett understands this team is not where they need to be. The front office has given him a lot to work with. The talent is there. The money to keep that talent is there. The fight is also there. The only thing missing is the intricacies of their schemes and the execution to pull it off. And that’s on Garrett. More experience together will help the chemistry, but the team also has to become more creative. Kellen Moore is here to help the offense become more dynamic. Jon Kitna is here to help Dak Prescott become a more effective passer.
Jason Garrett fixes problems. The defense used to be a liability; they’re not anymore. The team used to fall apart without Tony Romo, Tyron Smith, or Sean Lee. That’s also a thing of the past. Now, the team needs to improve their play-calling and a big change has been made in an attempt to fix that as well. If Garrett does what he always does and fixes problems, the offense will take off and this team will be very hard to beat.
So while the 2019 season remains a test for Garrett, keep in mind - he’s studied up pretty hard. There’s a strong chance we see some great things from this football team. This is the first time that Garrett’s job has been called into question following a season where the team has won the division as well as a playoff game. The bar is higher these days and they should be, but if Garrett stays true to form and responds with a season where the team improves - that’s going to mean something special for this football team. And it will also mean more years of Garrett as he’ll inevitably get an extension, but at that moment we’ll all collectively agree that he’s earn it.