Commentary

It's open season on Cowboys' staff

Perennial 8-8 club's coaches should fear Jerry Jones' wrath after Rob Ryan's firing

Updated: January 9, 2013, 3:00 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Let me be the first to give Jerry Jones a hand clap. It doesn't happen often.

Feel free to join me.

[+] EnlargeGarrett-Ryan
AP Photo/Tom UhlmanIf more assistants join Rob Ryan on the unemployment line this offseason, that would leave Jason Garrett as the next logical firing should the Cowboys fail again.
Jerry promised change the other day. He insisted that coaches and players would feel edgy this offseason.

We were all skeptical, as we should have been, given the owner's history. Well, he has delivered.

It turns out that Monday's firing of running backs coach Skip Peete was a harbinger. Jerry or Jason Garrett whacked defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on Tuesday, apparently because the Cowboys are about to implement the 4-3 defense.

The question now is whether Jerry and Jason will make it three-for-three Wednesday by firing another coach.

John Garrett. Bill Callahan. Jimmy Robinson. Wade Wilson. Matt Eberflus. Or someone else. Sadly, you could make a case for anyone on the staff getting dismissed after this season.

No one is safe. Not after consecutive 8-8 seasons. Not after the Cowboys have missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

Not even Red J.

It's time for Garrett's process to produce tangible results next season. That means he must make the playoffs, or his tenure as head coach with the Cowboys is going to end after three seasons and eight games.

It ain't complicated.

If the defensive coordinator and a few other assistants lose their jobs this offseason, then there's only one more logical move to make if next season goes awry for whatever reason: Fire Garrett.

Some of y'all are mad it hasn't happened already. Understand, firing the coach is not always the right move.

After all, there's a reason the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and Dallas have hired the most head coaches since 1997 (six) and are also the only teams in that span not to play in an NFC Championship Game.

The Cowboys' issues are systemic. Garrett remains the best option to succeed with this dysfunctional franchise, but 21-19 as a head coach is going to get him just one more year to prove he can get the job done.

"That's the reality in this world," Garrett said recently when asked if he was concerned about time running out on him if he didn't win enough games. "That's the reality in this league.

"We're trying to get it right today. We're working our asses off to do that."

If you talk to enough folks at Valley Ranch, they'll tell you the owner has been on the warpath since the season ended -- hot as fish grease, as Mama used to say.

He's mad that spending $73 million this season on bonuses and salaries resulted in a third-place finish in the NFC East. And he's mad about the penalties and the raggedy running game.

And he's mad that Tony Romo played 16 games and the Cowboys missed the playoffs because Jerry views it as a wasted season.

Forget for a moment that Jerry gets the blame for most of this mess. He's never, ever going to remove himself as general manager. Or change his ways.

Seriously, what person do you know had a moment of clarity at age 70 and made significant change in his philosophical approach to life?

So the pressure falls on Garrett to deliver a playoff berth to Jerry. No excuses allowed. Besides, he has used them all.

And you know what? That's OK. It's time.

Garrett does a lot of things that show me he knows what it takes to build a team that has staying power once it gets good. It's why he's forever preaching about having the right kinds of guys on the team.

It's why he talks about adding players who play the right way and why he focused on improving each day. Do that and the long-term success each player and coach wants will occur.

All of that is true.

The problem, of course, is that the NFL is all about winning today. Jerry's patience has understandably run out.

He wants to win. He's tired of his team being the butt of jokes. And he's grown weary of the embarrassing losses on national TV.

When Jerry made Garrett the replacement for Wade Phillips, the owner thought he was hiring his football messiah -- the savior of America's Team.

Garrett has one more year to show Jerry he can resurrect this moribund franchise.

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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