Would you blame Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett if he felt cornered? As owner and general manager Jerry Jones continues to remake Garrett’s coaching staff — as if Garrett has much of a choice — it looks like the NFL template for putting a sitting coach on the proverbial hot seat.
Underachieve as a football team. Check. The Cowboys are one game over .500 since Garrett took over midway through the 2010 season.
Force your sitting head coach to remake the coaching staff, or in the case of Jones, just do it for him. Check. By the time the Cowboys are done they will have turned over half-a-dozen coaching positions.
Put your head coach in a put-up-or-shut-up position for the upcoming season. Check. If the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs again, Garrett will be gone.
Jerry Jones can try to sell us on this being a consensus approach. But that’s hard to believe.
The calendar reads 2013, but it feels like 2000. Back then, Dave Campo was the Cowboys head coach, Jones did as he pleased and the Cowboys floundered. At least these Cowboys are mediocre. Campo’s Cowboys, through no real fault of his own, stunk.
Jones spent most of January remaking the defensive staff, hiring Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator, necessitating a transition to the 4-3, Cover 2 scheme. That isn’t exactly a short-term proposition.
He also hired one of Kiffin’s chief lieutenants, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, to assist Kiffin, and took on Richard Bisaccia as special teams coach.
On February 4, the Cowboys hired Derek Dooley to coach wide receivers. At least Garrett knows Dooley from their days in Miami. Garrett could use a buddy right now.
As usual, it’s Jones doing the talking. At the Senior Bowl, Jones spoke to the media at length about the moves that had been announced.
He also defended Garrett, saying he wanted the young coach to call his own plays and that these moves aren’t designed to undercut him, but to help him. At the same time, Jones all but said he was preparing to take Garrett’s play-calling duties away from him.
Surely Jason Garrett knew what he was getting into, but you still have to feel for him. If the Cowboys flounder in 2013, he’ll take the blame.
Jones went to great pains to let us know that Garrett is participating in the process. But in doing so Garrett missed several Senior Bowl practices to interview potential coaches. That’s probably not the best use of his time when you consider there were nearly 150 players that needed scouting.
Of course, we’ll never know how Garrett feels about all of this. In Jerry’s World, coaches are seen and not heard. The most we’ve heard from Garrett since the season ended is a couple of taped interviews on the Cowboys’ website and a short statement after the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Jones can try to sell us on this being a consensus approach. But that’s hard to believe. With every other NFL team, the head coach controls his staff and talks with the media.
When I covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we dealt with head coach Jon Gruden when it came to coaching changes. I talked to the general manager, Bruce Allen, maybe once per year. Ozzie Newsome is the GM for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, and he probably talked more this past week than he did all of last year.
But we all know the rules are different in Dallas. Jones is the only general manager who owns his own team. He’s the only one who has the authority to do has he pleases. And he does, much to the detriment to the coaches that don’t have the credibility to tell him to take a hike (Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells).
Surely Garrett knew what he was getting into, but you still have to feel for him. If the Cowboys flounder in 2013, he’ll take the blame.
If the Cowboys succeed, he’ll get none of the credit. And in Jerry’s World, credit matters as much as winning.