<
>

Underwhelming hires show Cowboys right to stay with Jason Garrett

IRVING, Texas -- At some point this week the Philadelphia Eagles are expected to name Doug Pederson as their new head coach.

Unofficially, the Tennessee Titans ended the open season on head coaching vacancies when they promoted Mike Mularkey from interim coach to the full-time gig. And how completely unspectacular is that hire after his stints with the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars?

But just to recap, here is how the coaching dominoes fell:

Miami Dolphins -- Adam Gase

Cleveland Browns -- Hue Jackson

New York Giants -- Ben McAdoo

San Francisco 49ers -- Chip Kelly

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Dirk Koetter

Tennessee Titans -- Mike Mularkey

Philadelphia Eagles -- Doug Pederson

For all of those who wanted the Dallas Cowboys to make a change at head coach, who would you want among that group over Jason Garrett?

Jackson would have some fans, I’m sure. Gase’s work with quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler, would get some votes. Is that about it?

Sure, Jerry Jones could have found other candidates to interview, but even the pool of interviewee candidates seemed light this year. Gase has been a hot candidate the last few years. Jackson was wronged after his one year with the Oakland Raiders and did some great things with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Koetter has fans in the profession, but the Buccaneers were criticized by many for moving on from Lovie Smith after two seasons and just one with Jameis Winston.

Pederson’s past connection to the Eagles made him a favorite there, but he seems to have gotten the job only because the Giants named McAdoo Tom Coughlin’s replacement.

Garrett has gone 40-40 in his five full seasons as Cowboys head coach. He lost three de facto NFC East title games in Week 17 of the 2011, ’12 and ’13 seasons. He went 12-4 in 2014 and then things fell apart in 2015 with a 4-12 record.

The good feelings generated from 2014 disappeared with what happened last season.

But among the coaches hired to fill other vacancies or interviewed for those spots, there was not a must-get.

Perhaps things will be different if the Cowboys fail in 2016 and Jones decides to make a change.

One common denominator between the 2016 hires is the offensive backgrounds. McAdoo and Koetter were the offensive coordinators on the teams that hired them. Jackson was able to show the Browns’ front office what he could do twice a year over the last two seasons. Pederson was the offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs. Gase ran the Chicago Bears offense. Mularkey has an offensive background. We know Kelly is an offensive guy.

If Jones is looking to replace Garrett a year from now, you would think he would lean offense as well, especially because of Tony Romo.

Jones once said he could find 500 coaches who could lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl in his divorce from Jimmy Johnson. Maybe he was right back then, considering just how talented the Cowboys’ roster was in the early to mid-1990s.

Would a guy like Mike Shanahan be of interest? He was a finalist for the San Francisco spot and has long been a Romo fan. How about New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels? He should have been considered for a gig this season but wasn’t. Former Cowboys' passing game coordinator Todd Haley has directed the highly-productive Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense through injuries at a number of positions and still flourished.

The easy thing to do is call for somebody’s firing. The hard thing to do is find the right replacement at the right time.

Jones stood pat with Garrett, believing 2015 was an off year, not the start of a trend.

He will find out if he is right or wrong over the next 12 months.

And he will get a good look at the candidates he chose not to explore.

The Cowboys have seven games against Pederson (two), McAdoo (two), Jackson, Kelly and Koetter in 2016.