The question was the last of the Cowboys’ kickoff press conference: Is this a playoffs-or-bust year for Jason Garrett?
Owner Jerry Jones didn’t hesitate.
“No. That’s the best answer I can give, and the fairest,” Jones said.
Of course, in 2010, as the losses and the questions about Wade Phillips’ job security mounted, Jones continually reminded reporters that he had never fired a coach in the middle of a season. After a 1-7 start, Phillips was fired, with Garrett becoming the interim coach.
So Garrett would be well served to take his boss’ words with a grain of salt.
Jones, though, was effusive in his praise of his coach, saying, “Our coach and our coaching staff are the No. 1 reason that I’m excited about what we have ahead of us this year.”
The Cowboys have not won a Super Bowl or even made the NFC title game since 1995, of course. They have only nine playoff appearances and three postseason wins since.
Jones is on his fifth coach since Barry Switzer. Chan Gailey lasted two years, Dave Campo three, Bill Parcells four and Phillips 3 1/2.
The owner has given Garrett a longer leash than any of his other six head coaches despite Garrett going 67-53 with only two postseason appearances in his seven full seasons as head coach. (Garrett did win coach of the year honors in 2016, but the Cowboys lost to the Packers at home in the divisional round.)
“Everybody wants to step in like we did when we first got here and win three out of four in seven years,” Jones said. “Everybody wants to do that. That’s not the NFL that I see. I think it’s as logical as watching my step as I walk off this stage that Jason is better and the right man for this job, even though he didn’t get coach of the year last year. Having said that, I’m very solid in my thinking. Everybody here knows that I’ll take a risk with anybody. But I also would like for you to review pragmatic decisions, some pretty logical-type decisions as well, absent the risk. All of this weighs in it. We [he and Stephen Jones] see better than anybody in the world Jason. Better than anybody. Consequently, I’m excited about him being our head coach.”
Executive vice president Stephen Jones was told that, over the last 30 years, most head coaches have won a Super Bowl within their first four seasons if they’re going to win one. The Cowboys, though, maintain faith that Garrett is the right man for the job.
“I think you can always pull up stats on a lot of different things. Obviously our game has changed a lot over the years with the salary caps,” Stephen Jones said. “I think we get better at looking at what’s in the best interests when you look at a salary-cap era and how important the draft is and all of sudden midstream, you change coaches and whether you like it or not, you might think you’re not, but it’s different schemes, different philosophies and you look up and all the resources you put into building a roster don’t necessarily fit the next guy.
“. . . We have a lot of confidence in Jason. We think he’s put together a strong staff, and we can go out and really have success this year. Now this is a young football team. Three players over 30 and two of them are specialists. Sean [Lee] is the only [position player] over 30. Half of this football team wasn’t here last year.”