The Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys almost always seems to be on the hot seat. For Jason Garrett, that has been true nearly his entire tenure. There is a segment of the Dallas Cowboys media and fan base that has been so spoiled by the Super Bowl Championships of the 70s and 90s that anything less than that is a catastrophic season.
For those of us who are a bit younger and/or newer fans of the team, we’ve seen the flip side of the greatness that made the Dallas Cowboys America’s Team.
For many of us, Jason Garrett’s tenure has been the best run of success that any of us has known. I didn’t become a fan until the Dave Campo era, and we all know what a disaster that was. Bill Parcells was good, but didn’t deliver the high hopes for success that many in Cowboys Nation were hoping for.
We seemed to like Wade Phillips the person more than Wade Phillips the football coach, and it’s clear that he’s much more suited for his coordinator role than as the head coach.
That brings us to Jason Garrett, whose teams in the early going were very top-heavy with talent and had little depth.
Those first three years were quite frustrating. The Cowboys were on the brink of the playoffs for three straight years, only to lose in week 17 each time and head home early.
In 2014, Garrett and the Cowboys far exceeded expectations and looked primed to advance to the NFC Championship game (and perhaps the Super Bowl), and yet had to go home earlier than we expected.
2015 was a disaster of the highest order. The team was able to hang around until late in the season — despite horrendous quarterback play — because of the ineptitude of the NFC East.
2016 looked to be a disaster after what happened to Tony Romo in week three of the preseason when he injured his back, yet again, and the Cowboys turned to rookie Dak Prescott to lead the team. 2016 was a magical season up until the slow start by the team at home against Green Bay that they couldn’t fully recover from.
That brings us to 2017.
The expectations for the Dallas Cowboys have reached some epic proportions. While many around the NFL have soured on the Cowboys and decided to follow the “sophomore slump” narrative, many — including Vegas — have the Cowboys as a serious Super Bowl contender.
Dallas has been as high as 7-1 to win the Super Bowl next February and now sit with the third best odds at 8-1.
While we all hope for a Super Bowl, the reality is that only one of the 32 teams in the NFL will get to raise the Lombardi Trophy. As we’ve seen in Dallas in two of the last three years, even when you’re the favorite, things don’t always go your way.
For me, I don’t need a Super Bowl for Coach Garrett to keep his job. There are goals the team must accomplish to keep Garrett and the other coaches off the hot seat.
First, I think they need to have at least a ten win season and a playoff appearance.
With the apparent increase in difficulty in strength of schedule, the Cowboys may not win 13 games again this season. In fact, I’d bet against that. Not because they are a worse team or a bad team, but because they have a lot of good teams on the schedule in 2017.
Getting into the playoffs is the first goal, but once the Cowboys get there, they need to make some noise. Again, that might not mean a Super Bowl Championship, but it needs to mean a deep run to at least the NFC Championship game.
The “Jason Garrett can’t win big games” narrative is already out there. In order to douse that fire, he needs to get his team deep and be competitive.
Secondly, I think we need to see some progression from Dak Prescott. There are ways for Dak to improve in 2017, and Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Wade Wilson need to make sure that occurs.
Their jobs depend on the development of Dak Prescott.
Third. The team’s defense needs to show, at the very least, slight improvement.
The front office spent valuable draft capital to infuse the defense with some young talent. They need to take a step forward.
Rod Marinelli’s tenure has been average at best, as evidenced by the average defense they’ve put on the field. Known for taking away the football, the Cowboys have struggled in that department.
With the additions in the secondary they’ve made, the Cowboys should be better at corralling interceptions this year.
With a ton of questions along the defensive line, Garrett will need Marinelli to find another diamond in the rough and for Taco Charlton to be a first round talent.
The Dallas Cowboys look stocked for a long tenure of competitive football with their franchise quarterback, elite running back, All-Pro offensive line, and hopefully an emerging defense.
This is the deepest team that the Dallas Cowboys have put together since the early 90s.
I love the direction in which Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys and I think he will be the coach to lead them to their sixth Super Bowl win. While I think he keeps his job if they come up short in the playoffs again, the time to make that return to Championship glory is now.
As the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present.”