The Status Quo
Jerry Jones chooses pride over progress by keeping lackluster Cowboys coaching staff intact
Jerry Jones must be aware that you think his defense stunk on ice last season. He also must know there is ample evidence to back up that unit’s mythic collapse. He probably can’t sleep at night knowing you think head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan seem to fail at situational football more often than not.
Well, Jerry Jones has an answer for you: He’s not going to do a darn thing about it.
“No movement there; everybody is under contract, so nothing there,” Jones told reporters earlier this week at the Senior Bowl. “Just nothing there at all. Everybody has a contract, and I plan on them being here.”
This is all about pride. This is all about stubbornness. This is all about Jones’ needing to be right about Jason Garrett.
That’s right. The Cowboys go 8-8 for the third straight year, fail to make the playoffs for the third straight year, fail to win a game in week 17 that would have meant the NFC East title for a third straight year, and no one pays. Not Garrett. Not Callahan. Not Monte Kiffin, the architect of the defense that finished the season as the worst in the NFL and third-worst in history by yardage?
Big paycheck and no accountability? How did I get that gig?
In fact, the only noticeable change in the coaching staff for 2014 will be at tight end, where Wes Phillips — who was not under contract for 2014 — left to take the same gig with the Washington Redskins.
Perhaps he knows when to get off a sinking ship when he sees one.
Jones used words like “plan” and “anticipate” when talking about the staff, so he reserves the right to change his mind, I suppose. But once you get out of January, coaching staff changes are rare.
I’m buying what Jones is saying here about the staff. Not that I agree with it, but he didn’t call me and ask for my thoughts.
This isn’t about money, either. Notice Jones said they were all “under contract.” Words like that can be management-speak for “I don’t want to pay guys that aren’t on staff.” But we all know Jones never balks at spending money.
No, this is all about pride. This is all about stubbornness. This is all about Jones’ needing to be right about Garrett.
Let’s go back to the season finale a month ago, when Jones talked about Garrett’s job status for the umpteenth time. Here’s what he had to say about getting rid of Garrett.
“We’ve put a lot of effort in training as a franchise into Jason Garrett, and I want to take advantage of that,” Jones told reporters after the loss to the Eagles. “If we don’t have him, we don’t get payback for all the miscues and losses and criticism of sideline management. We don’t get a chance to benefit from the one way you learn, and that is the mistake you make.”
It isn’t just about payback. I’ve made this point before: It’s about validation. Because he and Jimmy Johnson couldn’t get along all those years ago, Jones has wandered in the NFL weeds, with only a short partnership with Bill Parcells rescuing him and the Cowboys from NFL irrelevance. His team’s record since that last Super Bowl title is .500, a perfect, perplexing nod to Jones’ mediocrity as a GM.
Jones has presided over it all and desperately wants to prove he was more than just the money man during the Johnson and Parcells eras. To him, Garrett is his salvation, his way of telling the NFL that his way works, that a man trained as an oil man can eventually be a football man.
So, no, even after three 8-8 seasons, Garrett remains. Even after proving he might not be the right play-caller, Callahan remains. Even after his defense’s epic collapse, Kiffin remains.
Not convinced it will work? Don’t worry. Jones told reporters that the only person he had to convince was “the man in the mirror.” If the man in the mirror were, say, an actual NFL general manager, that might inspire some confidence.