The Dallas Cowboys are embarking on a new era with Mike McCarthy as the new head coach. Quickly after being hired, he has already put together an excellent staff with names such as Mike Nolan, John Fassel, and Joe Philbin. This is a totally different direction from the Jason Garrett experience, one that only produced two playoff wins in nine full seasons.
Some would say it should be easy to move on from a guy who only had such minimal success but this particular situation was a little different. The ties that bind between Garrett and Owner Jerry Jones go back further and run deeper than most people realize and were definitely a factor in what seemed like a drawn-out divorce.
For starters, Jason's father, Jim Garrett, was a long-time scout for the Cowboys from 1987-2004. He had two previous stints with the organization as a scout as well in 1968-69 and 1974-75. As a college scout for the team, Jim wrote the original scouting report on Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman who the organization took with the first overall pick in 1989. He was a part of all three Super Bowl teams in the 90s (1992, 1993, and 1995).
Jason also knows what it's like to wear the star on his helmet, having played for the organization from 1993-1999. Garrett was signed as a free agent in 1992. He was released on August 31 before being signed to the practice squad a week later. After a few good preseason performances, Garrett made the roster in 1993 as the team's third-string quarterback. His crowning achievement on the field came in the 1994 Thanksgiving Game vs the Green Bay Packers. Garrett threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns as he led the Cowboys to a 42-31 victory. Garrett was a member of the 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl-winning teams.
Lastly, Garrett spent nearly a decade on the sideline as the head coach for the Cowboys. He took over in 2010 on an interim basis after Wade Phillips was fired. In 2011, he was named the full-time head coach, and a string frustrating seasons followed. For three consecutive seasons (2011, 2012, and 2013), the Cowboys entered Week 17 needing one win to clinch the NFC East and make the playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost all three, each to a different division opponent.
In 2014, Garrett finally had a team breakthrough and win the division as the Cowboys went 12-4 and locked down the number three seed in the NFC. Their playoff run wouldn't last long, though, as they lost to the Packers in the now-infamous “Dez Caught It” game in Lambeau Field in the divisional round.
Two years later All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and Quarterback Dak Prescott fell into Garrett's lap and the Cowboys won the division again at 13-3 and were the number one seed in the NFC. However, they wouldn't even win a single playoff game, falling to their nemesis the Packers on a last-second field goal 34-31.
In 2018, Garrett led the Cowboys to their third division title in five years after going 10-6. After a hard-fought two-point win vs the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round, the Cowboys were dominated for the most part a week later vs the Los Angeles Rams.
In 2019, the Cowboys went a disappointing 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
So as you can see, Jones has been tied to the Garrett family in one way or another for the better part of 30 years since buying the team in 1989. That's why there should be no surprise that the split between the two sides took a while to come about. Jason is like a son to Jerry so this divorce wasn't going to be a simple handshake and a thank you for your services kind of thing. It was going to be done with class and dignity, as evident by the statement Jones released after relieving Garrett of his duties.
“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 a 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.”
The relationship between Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett has many layers to it. They're close and will remain that way. However, this is the business side of the NFL and what was best for the business going forward was a parting of the ways between Garrett and the organization. Now, the Cowboys are on a new journey under new leadership thanks to Jones putting his personal feelings to the side and doing what was best for the team.