Losing Romo might help Jason Garrett

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
9:25
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- If there's any good news regarding the loss of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, it revolves around coach Jason Garrett.

It seems Garrett's job is on the line as he enters this win-or-go home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. Yet how difficult is it to judge Garrett in the biggest game of the season if he doesn't have his franchise quarterback?

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsA loss on Sunday would eliminate the Cowboys from the playoffs in Week 17 for the third consecutive season. But can Jason Garrett be blamed without Tony Romo?

Jerry Jones fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan last season despite numerous injuries to the defensive unit. Jones felt the scheme was too complex and he thought the defense underachieved with Ryan.

What about Garrett?

He's had injuries, losing guard Brian Waters, wide receivers Miles Austin and Terrance Williams, and running back DeMarco Murray for some games. Waters, signed as an upgrade at the position, is out for the season. Austin, Williams and Murray are healthy and in the lineup.

There have been some issues with the play calling, and Garrett took matters into his own hands by switching the role of quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson by moving him to the press box so he could relay the play calls from Bill Callahan to Romo.

Murray has taken over the running attack with 100-yard games in two of the past three weeks, and he caught a game-winning 10-yard touchdown reception in the season-saving victory over the Redskins on Sunday.

A defensive line that has too many no-name players to mention has also endured injuries. The secondary has also encountered injuries and poor play.

Yet, Garrett is trying to save his gig here by managing a mess of a roster that's underachieved at some positions and hasn't played well at others.

Jones doesn't want to fire Garrett but might be forced to depending on the regular-season finale.

In the past two seasons, the quarterback play has decided the Cowboys' playoff fate.

In the 2011 finale, Romo was outplayed by Eli Manning, who threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout victory. In last season's finale, Romo threw three interceptions in the loss to the Redskins.

Now Romo is gone and Kyle Orton starts in another win-or-go home game for the Cowboys. If Orton gets beat on Sunday by the Eagles, does that mean it should be the end for Garrett?

Should the Cowboys lose, that's three full seasons of missing the postseason under Garrett. At some point, you have to hold the man accountable for this. You just can't keep firing assistant coaches and thinking things will get better.

At the same time, maybe Garrett might get a pass, considering he doesn't have his franchise quarterback.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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