Dallas Cowboys: just how “bad” a coach is Jason Garrett?

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys gestures in the fourth quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys gestures in the fourth quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys stumbled out of the gate early this season, but managed to finish strong. Is this because of Jason Garrett or in spite of him?

Even if you’re no fan of the Dallas Cowboys, you’re probably well aware of the criticisms heaped upon head coach Jason Garrett. At various times in his tenure, an uproar will build, and the masses within the DFW Metroplex–and beyond–clamor for his ouster. Such is the price one pays for coaching America’s Team. With each passing season, the chasm between championships widens. Fans have passed the point of impatience. Wholesale change is needed, starting at the top.

While that line of thinking is all fine and good, we should know better by now. The Dallas Cowboys don’t run their ship the way other franchises run theirs. As fans, It’s easy to get on social media and demand this and bloviate about that, but the truth remains: what we want to happen and what will ultimately happen are wildly divergent scenarios.

Take this year for example. Even as the Cowboys pulled their season out of a 3-5 ditch and made the divisional round of the playoffs, there was no shortage of bellyaching about the offense and it’s general blah-ness. And rightfully so. Despite having the league’s rushing champion in Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas offense somehow only managed to rank 22nd in the NFL in total yards. For what it’s worth, it also put them dead last among teams who qualified for the playoffs.

So it really came as no surprise when it was announced that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan would not return next year. If there was a bone to be thrown to a fan base starving for change, that was it. This was especially true when it became apparent that their “big finish” was to elevate quarterback coach Kellen Moore to the coordinator slot and hire former Cowboy backup Jon Kitna to fill Moore’s old spot. Of course, this was met with a collective eye roll from the fan base.

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Now, it goes without saying that the constant during this whole time is Jason Garrett. Since he took over in the middle of the 2010 season, the Cowboys’ fortunes have been mixed at best. Even then, Dallas under Garrett is a respectable 77-59 in the regular season, good for a .566 winning percentage. Moreover, when you take the advent of the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott era into account, the winning percentage goes up a full ten points to .667. Keep in mind that Prescott and Elliott have been in the league for three full seasons now. The sample size is adequate enough to draw some revealing conclusions, and the Garrett detractors cannot be happy to read this.

In that three year span–the Dak and Zeke era–the Cowboys are 32-16 in the regular season. This includes a six-game suspension for Elliott during the 2017 campaign in which the team cratered. Even still, they managed to win nine games and post a winning record. Furthermore, those 32 regular season wins are good for fourth in the entire NFL. The teams ahead of them? In order, New England, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. The teams immediately behind them? New Orleans, Seattle, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and the Los Angeles Rams.

So the natural next question is, well, how bad is Garrett? If we’re taking the top ten winningest teams in very recent NFL history, Garrett if firmly ensconced in the top half of a pretty impressive fraternity of coaching royalty. Am I putting him in their rarefied air? Not necessarily. Championships are the currency we deal in, and in that capacity, the Cowboys last two decades-plus are laughable. What I am doing is presenting a case that Jason Garrett isn’t exactly the clueless, clapping nimrod he’s sometimes painted out to be.

Let’s take another look at the top ten teams over the past three years. Specifically, I’m talking about their head coaches. Is Garrett the worst of that bunch? I don’t think so. Take out the obvious coaches that you’d rather have in town. The no-brainers here are Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, Doug Pederson, and Sean McVay. Would you rather have Mike Zimmer or Dan Quinn calling the shots in Dallas? Before you automatically say yes, remember that neither of those two has the amount of wins Jason Garrett has over the past three years.

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My point is to be careful what ask for. Moreover, these things have a way of working themselves out. The scuttlebutt about a Garrett extension has quieted down a lot. In fact, next season has more a put-up-or-shut-up feel to it. So the haters may just have to endure one more year of their favorite whipping boy before they get their wish. Just know that if the Dallas Cowboys find a way to build on their successes, it’ll be more of the same, and that may not necessarily be the worst thing that could happen.

  • Published on 01/30/2019 at 14:01 PM
  • Last updated at 01/30/2019 at 08:03 AM