Commentary

Garrett still best option for Cowboys

In an injury-riddled season, coach deserves more time to show what he can do

Updated: November 21, 2013, 10:09 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Some of y'all can't stand Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

You think he's a poor in-game tactician. You think he's yet another Jerry Jones puppet. You think he's too pragmatic, and his offensive philosophy stinks.

Mainly, you can't stand the consecutive 8-8 seasons and another that seems destined to end with a .500 record.

Well, get over it.

Right now, keeping Garrett for at least one more season is the best move Jerry can make. The fact it's unpopular is good.

Seriously.

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett and Jerry Jones
AP Photo/Gus RuelasJerry Jones, right, says Jason Garrett will return as coach next season, and that's a good thing since Garrett seems to be as good as anyone in striking the right balance to deal with Jones.

For too long, Jerry has cared what fans think. He has made reactionary moves based, in part, on a desire to please his rabid fan base.

That's the dumbest approach an owner can take. All fans want is a winner. Most of them have a short-term view of their favorite team because they're so emotionally invested.

Sign this free agent. Trade for this player. Fire that coach. Cut that player.

The best teams don't operate that way.

Let's be honest, this franchise has long been dysfunctional. It has systemic issues that make winning more difficult in Dallas than with other franchises.

Thus, the .500 record since 1997.

It takes a special dude to work with Jerry. Heck, even Bill Parcells had Terrell Owens shoved onto his roster.

Any established coach you want -- Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Nick Saban -- isn't going to work with Jerry because he's going to demand too much control. Jerry no longer needs a new stadium, so he's not about to cede the type of power to a coach again the way he did with Parcells.

And any coach who has never been an NFL head coach before -- Mike Zimmer, David Shaw or Bill O'Brien -- is just going to be viewed as yet another Jerry puppet by you the first time he makes an unpopular decision.

You fire the coach when you think he's the primary reason the team isn't winning. Do you really think Garrett is the person most responsible for this string of unsatisfying seasons? Of course not.

We all know the blame lies with Jerry. We also know he's not going to fire himself. So the best way for this franchise to win is with a coach who understands best how to manage Jerry.

Folks, that's Garrett.

Jerry respects his intelligence, and Garrett has enough confidence in himself to tell Jerry what types of players he needs on the roster to be most successful. The Cowboys hadn't drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since Jerry bought the team in 1989.

They have used first-round picks on offensive linemen in two of the three seasons Garrett has been the primary voice in the draft room.

That's hardly a coincidence.

Firing the coach doesn't work without fixing the other issues. Buffalo, Oakland and Kansas City are the only teams that have hired more coaches than Jerry since 1997. None of those teams has had sustained success during these 16 years.

Garrett's not perfect. We know that.

But he's trying to implement the vision he has for this team, and he's doing it under trying circumstances.

The reality is the Cowboys are trying to rebuild without going through a four- or five-win season. It's why Garrett is quick to point out that only 15 players remain from the team he took over with eight games left in the 2010 season.

Garrett doesn't get a lifetime pass, however.

At some point, Garrett's much-talked-about process must yield some victories. Every team has injuries, but it's clear the Cowboys' defense has been compromised.

You can't judge Garrett fairly based on the collection of spares the Cowboys have used most of this season on defense. And Jerry's decision to strip Garrett of play-calling duties and give them to Bill Callahan, while giving Tony Romo unprecedented power to shape the game plan, has been a disaster.

Jerry knows he's every bit as much to blame as the head coach for the Cowboys' current record. That's really why he's giving Garrett at least one more season, even if this one doesn't result in a trip to the playoffs.

Then again, perhaps Jerry is just being proactive.

New Orleans blasted the Cowboys in their last game. And the smack-talking New York Giants are certainly capable of delivering another beatdown this weekend.

If that happens, at least Garrett and Jerry won't have to answer any questions about the coach's job security.

The owner has spoken. Garrett's going to be here a little while longer.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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