Jones confirmed that Garrett will return to the Cowboys in 2014 on his radio show (via Will Brinson of CBS Sports):
"I think what is important here is I haven't given any consideration," Jones said. "I like what we're doing, I like what he's doing as a head coach. Yes, we are [keeping Jason Garrett] going forward."
The show hosts, justifiably, asked how Jones justifies keeping Garrett after another .500 season.
"I justify it that … we have been in it, right there playing for it, in the last game for the last three years," Jones said. "I'm in complete step with our fans that want more than 8-8. So that you don't have to be playing for the NFC East championship in the last game every year. That's where we can have improvement. We won some games that were hard fought. Having said it, I think there is a positive to have the team right there in a position to win the East, fighting for it.
"Certainly for my mind, I'm prepared and was very clear with my decision on Jason."
Most would assume that given Garrett's underwhelming tenure, he'd likely be looking for new employment this offseason, but that's not the case. There was a lot of excitement surrounding Garrett as a head coach when he replaced Wade Phillips in 2010, but he has been unable to push the Cowboys past the average threshold.
Garrett went 5-3 as a midseason replacement in 2010, but he followed that up with three consecutive 8-8 seasons. Things were looking promising for Dallas early in 2013, as the rest of the NFC East was seemingly stumbling, but the Cowboys hit a rough patch in their own right, which allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to surpass them.
Perhaps, the lowest point for Garrett came in Week 15, when the Cowboys blew a 23-point lead to lose to the Green Bay Packers at home. Despite the fact that running back DeMarco Murray was gaining better than seven yards per carry, Garrett decided to pass the ball at will.
This stopped the clock far too often and allowed Green Bay to get back into the contest. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is technically the play-caller, but Garrett shouldered most of the blame, as seen in this humorous graphic courtesy of Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com:
Essentially, everyone in the media was calling for Garrett's head after that game, including Jeff Sullivan of DallasCowboys.com:
This game is entirely on Jason Garrett. One of the most humiliating losses in franchise history. The fans deserve better. Sad really.— Jeff Sullivan (@SullyBaldHead) December 16, 2013
Jones stuck with Garrett then, and he continues to do so now, despite the lack of success.
His confidence in Garrett certainly seemed to waver following that loss, as he refused to reaffirm his faith in the embattled coach, according to Carlos Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
I was firm for one night at that time, and that doesn’t call for me having to be firm every morning I get up. So, I was real firm then, so take that to the bank. Just take that to the bank. I’m not going to sit here and, every time I see you guys, ask whether I’m firm or not. We can all play that game.
Although Garrett had an opportunity to erase the memory of that awful Green Bay loss by beating the Eagles to win the NFC East in Week 17, the Cowboys were unable to get the job done without Tony Romo under center.
Following the game, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com provided a statement from Jones discussing Garrett's job security within the organization:
"I said that a month ago," Jones said when asked if he remained committed to Garrett as his coach following the Cowboys' 24-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which marked the third straight season in which Dallas failed to win a de facto NFC East title game in Week 17. "I stand by what I said a month ago."
"I'm not discussing that at all," Jones said. "I have spoken a little more appropriate time here about three or four weeks ago. I said at that time that I was with Jason, that I thought that his future and what he's going to be doing with us was good. But this isn't the time, and I don't even like the way it feels or looks to speak to anything about our coaches."
ESPN's Ed Werder continued:
Jerry On Garrett: "If we don't have him, we don't get payback for all the miscues, losses and criticism of sideline management."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) December 30, 2013
Garrett has seemingly had one of the league's most talented teams on paper throughout his tenure, but he was unable to make the playoffs in three full seasons.
That is unacceptable for a team like the Cowboys that is constantly willing to spend in order to win championships. These failures have existed since long before Garrett was head coach, though, which suggests that the problem may come from even higher up.
The consensus seems to be that Jones should take a step back from being the team's general manager, but it's highly unlikely that he will ever surrender that control. Jones loves to run the show, and while there is no arguing with his success in the business world, it hasn't translated into success in the NFL for a very long time.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin also failed to live up to his end of the bargain this season. Dallas' defense was the worst in the league against the pass, and ESPN's Mike Ditka called it the worst in Cowboys history, according to NFL on ESPN:
Mike Ditka on the Dallas Cowboys: "That is the worst defense in the history of the Cowboys organization."— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 15, 2013
It's tough to argue with that notion since the Cowboys were routinely torn apart by mid-level quarterbacks who had no business putting up big numbers.
Some also like to blame Romo for failing to come up big in important situations. There is something to be said for that, but it all ultimately comes back to the head coach since he runs the show.
Garrett failed in that regard during his tenure in Dallas, and he must turn it around next season if he's to keep his job past 2014-15.
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