IRVING, Texas -- Chip Kelly was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles with one game to go, despite a 26-21 record. Tom Coughlin stepped away from the New York Giants on Monday after a 12-year run that included two Super Bowl wins.
After five full seasons as the Dallas Cowboys' head coach, Jason Garrett has a 40-40 record and one playoff appearance.
He will return for a sixth season in 2016. There was never a doubt in Jerry Jones’ mind, either.
“We all appreciate his support,” said Garrett, who is now the longest-tenured coach in the NFC East. “Everybody connected with our football team appreciates the support that our owner gives us. Players appreciate it, coaches appreciate it, I appreciate it, and now it’s our job to get back to work and rectify what happened here in the 2015 season, and we’re focused and determined to do that.”
Only Tom Landry has coached longer for the Cowboys than Garrett. Jimmy Johnson lasted five seasons. Garrett's 45 wins, including a 5-3 mark as interim coach in 2010, are second only to Landry’s 250 in team history. Johnson went 44-36 from 1989 to '93, but 15 of those losses came in one season.
Garrett entered the season with 41 wins for his career and struggled to pass Johnson.
When Garrett took over as the head coach in 2011, he said he wanted to build a program. Through the 8-8 seasons from 2011 to '13, Garrett saw progress. That progress blossomed in 2014.
It crashed in 2015.
“Ultimately it’s a bottom-line business, and we all recognize that, but I would argue to you that doing things the right way, establishing the right culture, going through the process the right way, ultimately gives you the best chance to win in the long run,” Garrett said.
Garrett said the coaches will evaluate all of the “whys” beyond the injuries to Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Orlando Scandrick and Lance Dunbar. He had no specifics on Monday, a day after the 34-23 season-ending loss to the Washington Redskins, but conceded little went right.
“We didn’t do a good enough job, obviously,” Garrett said. “And again you have to handle the adversities of the season. Coaches have to handle it. Players have to handle it. We have to do a better job of that. Different things happened to our team this year and collectively we didn’t respond the right way to have the success we wanted to have. Period.”
Jones still supports Garrett. So do the players, starting with perhaps the most important player, Romo. He was limited to four games after suffering a broken collarbone twice this season.
“I thought Coach Garrett was incredible,” Romo said. “I think when he looks back he’ll see ... he’s not going to look that way right now because he’s going to try to evaluate and find answers and he’s going to exhaust himself to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. But he was really incredible in getting our football team to play consistently at a very, very high level as far as effort, energy, just week to week. He really has the pulse of the team and it was a great thing to watch. As you lose that many games in a row it can be very difficult to continue to get great effort by a lot of proud professionals and I think that Coach Garett just did an incredible job of allowing us to have a chance as the weeks went on through his ability to just motivate, connect and really drive the team in that direction.”
But it is a bottom-line business, as Garrett acknowledged. Wins matter. Kelly found that out before the season ended. Coughlin found that out after the season ended.
After the third straight Week 17 loss in the de facto NFC East title game in 2013, there was pressure on Garrett to perform. The Cowboys responded with a 12-4 record, NFC East title and playoff win. It earned him a five-year contract extension.
After what happened in 2015, Garrett enters the second year of his deal facing pressure. Not that he looks at it that way.
“You just focus on doing your job as well as you can do it, creating the right environment for everybody else to do it as well as they can do it,” Garrett said. “That’s really what I do each and every day and you strive to do that better and better and better, and that’s where my focus is.”