From the time that Jerry Jones hired Jason Garrett to be his offensive coordinator prior to the 2007 season, before he ever hired a head coach, it was obvious that the team’s former quarterback would one day run the ship for the Dallas Cowboys.
That fully materialized three and half years later when the Cowboys fired Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season. After the eight games in which he presided as the team’s interim head coach, going 5-3 in that process, the most obvious coaching search in Cowboys history was complete when Jason Garrett was promoted to the role full-time ahead of the 2011 season.
Here we are, nine full seasons later, and the era is officially over. Some people will hesitate to call it an era because it wasn’t successful, but the reality is that Jason Garrett was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for almost a decade. We can officially say “was” now because the Cowboys made it official on Sunday and formally announced his exit. Jerry Jones also penned an official statement.
“We are extremely grateful to Jason Garrett for his more than 20 years of service to the Dallas Cowboys as a player, assistant coach and head coach,” said Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones.
“His level of commitment, character and dedication to this organization has been outstanding at every stage of his career. In his nine full years as a head coach, he guided our team to three division championships while also having them in position to play for the NFC East title in the last game of the year in four other seasons. His tenure of leadership will be characterized by his ability to produce teams that always played with great effort, emotion and passion, and he represented our organization with great pride, loyalty and respect.”
“Jason Garrett’s legacy with the Dallas Cowboys will always be that of someone who strived for greatness every day that he walked through the door, and as someone who instilled the virtues of enthusiasm, hard work and appreciation for the profession in all of the men who played with him and for him.”
“He is, and always will remain, a cherished member of the Dallas Cowboys family, and his contributions to the organization are greatly appreciated.”
Barring a miracle the 2019 season was only ever going to end one way - this way. The Cowboys finished in disappointing fashion, 8-8, and were a constant guessing game with regards to how they were going to play week by week. At the end of the day that falls on coaching.
Make no mistake about it, Jason Garrett had his chance with the Cowboys. He had almost a decade. He had the talent. He had the resources. He had it all. His lack of success in Dallas was by no means for lack of want, effort, or the sheer will to win, sometimes the reality of life and sports is that it simply does not happen or get done.
While the frustration of the last decade will likely sit with Cowboys fans for a long time, it should be noted that Jason Garrett will be part of Cowboys history forever. This obviously adds to the frustration for many, but he presided over the careers of many franchise cornerstones. He was essentially the head coach for the first full decade of the venue that the world regards as the best in professional football in AT&T Stadium. He helped transition the organization from one iconic quarterback to the other. He did not live up to what we all wanted, but he hardly accomplished nothing.
This is said often with regards to Jason Garrett and while it does not exonerate or excuse the fact that the on-field accomplishments were not enough, he is without question one of the finest men to ever be involved in any capacity with the Dallas Cowboys. He is a class act and should be credited for helping to build a phenomenal culture within the organization. The “right kind of guy” stuff takes some shots from fans, but it is undeniably true that the Cowboys are a place that players love to be and play, and a lot of that is because of what Jason Garrett cultivated.
People will talk about Garrett’s 85-67 overall record (counting his interim year), three NFC East championships, and 2-3 playoff record as if those are the only ways of quantifying success. Nobody will deny that he did not deliver on the field.
Jason Garrett did change the Cowboys though, and dealt with a lot of interesting bumps and surprises along the way. May his future be prosperous and filled with joy.
So long, Red Ball.