Photo via Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and seen that hot new item that just hit the shelf? Perhaps an exotic flavor of chip that a commercial or social media ad plugged to you. You cannot resist it. All the focus groups said it is the best flavor since the classic. Due to intrigue and from what the track record shows, you purchase it without hesitancy.
Around this time nine years ago, Jason Garrett was that hot commodity.
Garrett, after getting hired in 2007 as offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, morphed them into a prolific offensive threat, with the team leading in the top half in all of the NFL in yards per game in both passing and rushing.
The result? Getting calls and taking part in interviews for head coaching jobs, including that of the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons.
In the end, though, Garrett would retain his talents in the Big D, as he was given the interim head coaching job in 2010 after a dismal 1-7 start for Wade Phillips. Garrett would lead the Cowboys’ stretch run to an eventual 6-10 record, averaging over 30 points in the eight games Garrett coached.
Transition to the next few visits to that grocery store. You pick up another bag each time. The bags were not as good as that first time you ate it, but it still showed promise. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Cowboys were the epitome of mediocrity, finishing 8-8 each season. All three seasons, Dallas faded late and were not able to pick up the clutch, inter-division wins to cap off the regular season, which could have created playoff implications. It was not all doom and gloom though – the offense still ranked in the upper echelon of the NFL and the offensive line was getting rebuilt on the fly through the draft.
The fourth time you go to the store, it has become second nature to pick up a bag. In 2014, the Cowboys went 12-4 led by a revamped offensive line and emergence of running back DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys were undefeated on the road and won a playoff game for the first time since the 2009 season.
The next trip. A bad batch. The 2015 season was riddled with injuries, bad luck, and underperformance, which led to a 4-12 finish, the Cowboys worst record since 1989 when they went 1-15.
No matter. Next year, with the influx of talent from the draft via Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott the Jason Garrett-led Cowboys would finish 13-3, with Prescott winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and Garrett winning Coach of the Year. However, an early playoff exit occurred again, getting knocked out in the divisional round by the Green Bay Packers.
After a down-year in 2017 where Jason Garrett and the Cowboys finished the season 9-7, questions were starting to get raised. Was Garrett the coach to lead the Cowboys to a deep playoff run?
Another grocery store visit in 2018. Garrett once again leads the Cowboys to a playoff run, only to end in the divisional round yet again, this time against the eventual NFC-pennant-winning Los Angeles Rams.
Even still, some bad tastes in some of the chips were still noticed. Controversial play-calling in the early part of the season led to an OT loss to the Houston Texans. Among other underperforming performances, Dallas sat at 3-5 heading into mid-November. A store recall in the form of Amari Cooper coming over to the Cowboys from the Oakland Raiders jolted the offense to life and led to a 10-6 finish for Dallas.
2019. The issues with the chips persist. However, it is more severe. One-dimensional play-calling led to a loss against the New Orleans Saints where Dallas did not throw for a touchdown. Next, a loss to a winless New York Jets team. Then, the cherry on top: losing 28-24 to Minnesota. The loss came after the Cowboys decided to do two straight run-plays at the 10-yard line of Minnesota, despite Prescott being the sole factor for the Cowboys being close in the game, to begin with. Two straight run plays despite Elliott averaging less than three yards per carry.
Jason Garrett has been a coach that has been able to put Dallas in a good position to make the playoffs since his time as head coach.
The floor for Garrett is a solid one. Through adversity, in the years as head coach, he had to contend with a patchwork offensive line and close to no resemblance of a defense. Injuries and underperformance as well.
Despite this, even with Dallas at their best, they have still not been able to get over the hump in the playoffs. Regular season woes such as these are piling up and putting Dallas in a possible position of being on the outside looking in when discussing Super Bowl contenders. Despite the offense being top-10 in the NFL and the defense bending but not breaking, Garrett has not been able to put it to its fullest potential.
And it has shown.
That new chip flavor, that hot commodity so many years ago in Jason Garrett has been burnt out in the customer’s mouth. It is time for a change.