Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has remained publicly loyal to Head Coach Jason Garrett despite the team’s current three-game losing streak. Jerry’s said all the right things to indicate that Garrett’s job is safe despite the team’s current disappointing play. But nobody knows better than Jason, and perhaps Wade Phillips, how empty those words can be.
Back in 2010, when Garrett was the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator and Phillips was head coach, the team was in absolute freefall. Once they hit 1-7 after a 45-7 blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers, Jerry finally pulled the plug on Phillips’ tenure and promoted Jason.
Leading up to that decision, though, Jones expressed firm commitment to Wade Phillips as his coach. After the Cowboys’ 0-2 start that year, Jerry was asked about Wade’s job security and the chance he could be fired:
“I can just give you a very affirmative ‘no.'”
“I do believe in Wade and the staff and the players. The thing about it is when you have that kind of commitment, one of the No. 1 things you have it for is those situations. Those people are supposed to really be there in hard times. Hard times. That’s when you’ve got to make your best grade if you’re deserving of that commitment and we’re in hard times.”
“That’s why I’m in the saddle with Wade and in the saddle with the staff and the team.”
Granted, it took an additional five losses over the next six games for Jerry to finally send Phillips packing. But a month-and-a-half before Wade was fired, his boss was saying all the right things.
Five losses later, after making the decision to change head coaches, Jones was singing a very different tune.
“Wade today is a vivid example of accountability.”
“I’d change my mind from as late as Saturday. I don’t like the way that looks stability-wise, organization-wise. I think it called for it, and I recognized after the game that we just weren’t playing winning football or our best chance at winning football. I don’t apologize for changing my mind.”
Nine year later, Jerry Jones is saying all the right things about Jason Garrett’s job security. Most recently, he said that you would “lose money” if you bet on Garrett being fired before the end of the season.
But if his Dallas Cowboys keeps losing, could Jerry change his mind again?
There are some key differences between 2010 and our current situation. The biggest is that Jason Garrett was already on staff as Jerry’s handpicked successor; the man he already envisioned becoming the Cowboys head coach one day.
Right now there’s no clear heir apparent on the Cowboys’ coaching staff. Some might have considered Kris Richard at one point, but Dallas’ defense may be its biggest problem at the moment. If Garrett’s job is in question, should Richard’s be as well?
Kellen Moore is still figuring out just how to call the offense. Even if he has a bright future, throwing head coach duties at him now would be overwhelming.
Firing Garrett midseason would take the team being truly out of contention, as they were at 1-7 in 2019, and Jerry just wanting to send a message throughout his organization. It would be about “accountability,” just like he said nine years ago with Wade Phillips, but also because the Cowboys would have nothing to lose.
At 3-3 and tied for first place in the NFC East, there’s still plenty to lose in Dallas. This season can still be salvaged, and perhaps just surviving until the bye week and getting key players healthy again will spark a turnaround.
But with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town this Sunday, and the bye week on the other side of that game, could the pieces be in place for a dramatic change?
A #Cowboys source just now when I posed the question on Jason Garrett’s job security “Too early to jump ship too early to build one too. The thing is you can look up and we’re 13-3 or hell 3-13. Right now it’s premature to take either side.” But adds, “circle back next Monday.
If “next Monday” comes with the Cowboys at 3-4, trailing the Eagles in the division, and having now lost their fourth game in a row, then what might happen? Could the Joneses see the bye week as an opportunity to send a message to their team and try to spark a new direction?
Because of the shared duties between Kris Richard and Rod Marinelli right now there is at least some infrastructure in place to replace Jason Garrett. The Cowboys would likely give Richard a chance to prove himself as head coach and let Marinelli fully take over the defense again.
Personally, I highly doubt it happens. A 3-4 record, just a game or two back from the division leader, is a far cry from the 1-7 start led to Wade Phillips’ firing. And the amount of personal investment that Jerry Jones has in Jason Garrett far exceeds anything he felt for Wade.
But clearly, the votes of confidence that Jerry has given Jason the last few weeks can only be validated with time and continued and loyalty. As we saw in 2010, they may not be worth much if the Cowboys keep falling.
For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that Garrett and his team start rewarding that loyalty soon.