Firing Jason Garrett midseason was never the answer for the Cowboys

by Jordy McElroy

A week after being completely ignored by players on the sidelines, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was being embraced in the middle of the team’s celebratory post-game breakdown after Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles. It served as another example of winning solving everything in football, along with buying Garrett extra time on his perennial hot seat.

Call him “Big Cat” Garrett because he obviously has nine lives.

The Cowboys were likely never going to make a coaching change midseason considering there are no other obvious backup options. It has grown into a yearly tradition to debate when owner Jerry Jones will give the proverbial thumbs down at the guillotine for Garrett, who has never been considered by outsiders as the long-term answer for the Cowboys as a coach. Year in and year out, Jones stands there with his thumb erect and allowing business to go on as usual.

So there should have been no surprises when there weren’t any daunting threats of a head coaching change after the Cowboys’ embarrassing road loss to the New York Jets a week ago. Garrett may not be the long-term answer, but he also never deserved to wear the clown mask for the team’s struggles, either.

As if removing him from his job with no Plan B would suddenly fix everything wrong with the Cowboys this season.

Garrett knows a thing or two about being the whipping boy for a highly-touted franchise that hasn’t competed in a Super Bowl in 24 years. He’s the obvious and easiest scapegoat for a perennially underachieving team, and Jones has bent over backwards in an effort to forcibly shoehorn him into the role of a franchise coach.

At the end of the day, however, quarterback Dak Prescott has to be more consistent behind center, and the offensive line has to stay healthy. The defense also has to continue to play with a chip the size of Texas to alleviate some of the pressure on the offense. First-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to continue his evolution as a play-caller.

Sunday night’s performance against the Eagles was a terrifying example of what could be when the Cowboys are clicking on all cylinders. They don’t need Prescott feigning as a gunslinger in the pocket with arguably the best running back in the league coming out of the backfield.

Their commitment to the ground attack, along with some creativity along the offensive front, pushed Ezekiel Elliott for 111 rushing yards and one touchdown against a top-10 Eagles run defense. An efficient Prescott finished the game going 21-of-27 passing for 239 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Yet, the biggest story of the night was the Cowboys’ defense generating four turnovers and smothering Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz with constant pressure.

It was the same team that had presumably given up on Garrett after three straight losses to the Jets, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.

The onus for the perennial dark cloud hanging over the Cowboys’ organization, which ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith calls “an accident waiting to happen,” isn’t on Garrett’s shoulders alone. Those struggles had persisted for over a decade before he even accepted the head coaching position. The Cowboys knew exactly what they were getting when they officially promoted him and kept him under contract for the last eight years.

Jones certainly isn’t complaining as long as he’s able to keep his imprint on the coaching and personnel decisions. It’s a scenario that gives him the best of both worlds.

Garrett has thick enough skin to withstand the public’s verbal lashings, while Jones safely pulls the strings from behind the scenes—a perfect marriage, in many ways, for a larger-than-life owner refusing to settle for a quiet existence in the luxury box. 

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