IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said many times his biggest regret was firing Chan Gailey after only two seasons.
Gailey went 18-14 from 1998-99 and the Cowboys went to the playoffs both times, but Jones decided to make a move anyway and hired Dave Campo, who delivered three straight 5-11 seasons.
Jones felt he wasn't fair to Gailey and perhaps listened to the players too much in deciding to fire him.
Jason Garrett is 16-16 in two full seasons as the Cowboys' coach and missed a chance to make the playoffs both times with Week 17 losses with the NFC East title on the line. But Garrett will get a third year as coach in 2013.
At least in some form he will get that chance.
With Jones promising to make things "uncomfortable" at Valley Ranch this offseason, he is not exactly being fair to Garrett, either.
You can be tired of all the "process" talk, but how Garrett was (is?) trying to build the program is correct. It takes some time to put things in place, but this is a win-now league. Jones gave Garrett two years and now it is as if he is saying, 'We tried it your way, but now we're going back to my way.'
Jones can say Garrett is OK with giving up the play-calling even if it sounds ridiculously far-fetched, since the day after the Washington loss Garrett said he would likely keep on calling the plays.
When Bill Callahan was hired as offensive coordinator last year, Garrett said he could envision a time in which he gave up the play-calling, but there is no way he wanted it to happen this way. He would have wanted to do it the way Sean Payton did in New Orleans -- minus the serious leg injury -- after building up years of work with coordinator Pete Carmichael. Callahan was not in a passing game meeting in 2012.
I don't doubt that Garrett was on board with making a change at defensive coordinator or with the hiring of the assistants, but this defensive staff has everybody connecting the dots to Jon Gruden in 2014, or maybe even Lovie Smith.
Garrett had to deal with the shadow of Payton for the second half of last season when it looked like Payton could have opted out of New Orleans.
Now Garrett might have a staff with four former Gruden assistants on board in Callahan, Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Rich Bisaccia, who could be the special teams coach, and he will have to deal with the shadow of Gruden this season.
It doesn't matter that Gruden might not have the best of relationships with some of his former assistants or that people want to overlook how bad things got under Gruden after Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl.
It's the perception that Garrett is teetering on the edge that will become an almost story with his firing almost an inevitability.
Maybe Jones isn't doing Garrett much of a favor at all by giving him the third year he never gave Gailey.