After months of anticipation, former head coach Jason Garrett’s separation with the Dallas Cowboys was finalized on Jan. 5 of 2020, concluding the six and a half years he dedicated to the program. Garrett finished with a 59-48 game record overall including playoffs, which he was only able to take the team to three times. Garrett’s time with the cowboys is looked back on with disappointment by fans but with absolute respect by his boss, Jerry Jones.
Garrett began coaching for the cowboys in 2010 when he became the team’s interim head coach in the middle of the 2010 season. Garrett went on to finish the second half of the season 5-3, a significant improvement from the first half of their season which was 1-7. Fans were hopeful for the upcoming season; Garrett was new in charge and could hopefully lead the cowboys back to the glory days of the 90’s.
For the next three years, this hope faded fast as 2011, 2012 and 2013 flew by all with the same record of 8-8 and no chance at a spot in the playoffs. Fans were upset, and they were expecting a coaching change after three straight years of .500 seasons.
But the hope for a coaching change in 2014 was lost when Jones appeared on radio station 105.3 the Fan in Dallas and stated that the cowboys were, in fact, “going forward with Garrett in 2014.” The 2014 season came, and Garett had to perform. All eyes were on him. Jones could put up with three straight .500 seasons, but could he put up with another?
Pressured by the controversy of his rehire, Garett showed up. He finished the season 12-4 and got the wild card spot into the playoffs. The cowboys were eager to win the wild card and prove that this was the team to return the Cowboys to the glory days. The playoff game was close. The Cowboys were down 26-21 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. They needed a touch down to win the game, and Tony Romo threw one…well, kind of.
This last attempt to win the game was infamously ruled a non-catch, as the referee said that Dez Bryant lost control of the ball. But in 2018, after reevaluating the play, the NFL confirmed that the Dez Bryant did, in fact, catch the ball. The Cowboys season ended 26-21, and as Jones said, Garett led his team to be “right there playing for it” for yet another season.
Jones saw improvement along with the rest of the Cowboys nation and signed Garrett to a five-year 30-million-dollar deal after results from 2014. Nearly a year before, it had been a question of whether or not Garrett would have a job, a job that was now guaranteed for the next five years.
Without the pressure to produce, Garett fell short in 2015. Tony Romo got hurt, and the Cowboys fell apart. All the positivity from the season before had quickly been forgotten amid a devastating 4-12 season. Fans were questioning if firing Garrett would be worth the cost of $24 million due to his new contract.
Fans were fuming going into 2015, and people that had “Keep Calm and Fire that Ginger” shirts were one more bad season away from putting them on and marching to the stadium in protest. But as Garrett had done before, he rose to the pressure and put out a winning team.
Romo was hurt again but third string quarterback Dak Prescott was every Cowboys fan’s savior and the team went 13-3. Although the Cowboys lost to the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, Garett was praised in 2016. Looking at Garrett’s time with the Cowboys, 2016 is the highlight. He won NFL Coach of the Year honors, and fans praised him for proving them wrong.
But Garrett was not the type of coach to produce two winning seasons in a row. He liked to keep fans on their toes. 2017 did not mirror any of the 2016 season. The team went 9-7 and did not get into the playoffs, prompting headlines that screamed once again for Garrett’s removal. But just like before, Jerry Jones stuck by his coach, and Garrett stuck around for yet another year.
In true Garrett fashion, he came alive when things got bad, and the 2018 season ended with a 10-6 record. The Cowboys went to the playoffs, lost in the divisional round and went home. But something was different about this time, and fans were not quick to jump on the Garrett train again.
Fans were tired of Garrett. Tired of a team that had talented players and the potential to do well but something kept going wrong. There was only one person left to blame and that was Jason Garrett. SB Nation’s headline for a feature on Garrett described the emotions of Cowboy nation perfectly. “Jason Garrett isn’t capable of leading the Cowboys out of the abyss. It’s time to fire him.”
2019 was the last year of his contract, and going into the season, Jones did not offer his coach an extension to his contract. Therefore, at any time, Jones could pull the plug on Garett and not face any financial backlash. Most fans’ opinions of Jones’ decision to keep Garrett for another year were similar to what dedicated Ursuline fan Emma Lochridge ’22 said. “Either the Cowboys win a Super Bowl or Jason Garrett gets fired, it’s honestly a win-win.”
Garrett finished his last season with the Cowboys the same way he started it, 8-8. On January 5, 2020, the long-awaited firing of Jason Garrett was finalized. The program now looks to a more hopeful and consistent future with former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
Image courtesy of CBS Sports