Thursday, January 17, 2008
Garrett spurns Ravens, Falcons to remain Cowboys coordinator
IRVING, Texas -- Sitting in the atrium of Dallas Cowboys
headquarters, at the same table where Wade Phillips, Bill Parcells
and several predecessors have given their daily briefings for
years, Jason Garrett felt comfortable right away.
"I just want to start by saying I'm awfully excited to be
sitting in this chair," Garrett said.
No, Garrett wasn't being introduced as Phillips' replacement. He
was merely explaining Thursday why he decided to pull out of
consideration for coaching jobs with Baltimore and Atlanta to
remain offensive coordinator in Dallas.
Still, the symbolism was hard to miss -- especially for a guy who
has been viewed the coach-in-waiting since he rejoined the
organization last year.
Garrett held a news conference to discuss his decision to stay,
which included a promotion to assistant head coach and, presumably,
a raise, perhaps approaching the $3 million per season made by
Phillips. He insisted that he seriously considered the other jobs
and didn't just see what was out there for the experience of going
through the process.
"They weren't exercises," he said. "They were great
opportunities. ... I think maybe this decision to stay here has a
lot more to do with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007 and what the Dallas
Cowboys can be in 2008."
Garrett gave thoughtful answers to all questions but one. Asked
if he was promised he'd replace Phillips, Garrett said, "No,"
then turned his head to seek a question from the other side of the
League rules prevent team owner Jerry Jones from anointing
Garrett as the heir to Phillips, but the way things have played out
sure seems to indicate the likelihood.
After all, Jones hired Garrett before hiring Phillips last year.
And when Garrett returned Wednesday night from visits with the
Ravens and Falcons, he huddled with Jones to figure out his next
move. Hours later, he opted to stay in Dallas, being part of a club
that just went 13-3 and sent seven offensive players to the Pro
"We're thrilled that Jason will be with the team in 2008 and
moving forward," Jones said in a statement. "We believe that what
we accomplished in 2007 is just the beginning of many productive
years ahead. His vision and direction on the offensive side of the
ball will only help us improve and get to where we want to be."
In Garrett's first year of building a game plan and calling
plays, the Cowboys averaged the second-most points, third-most
yards and fourth-most yards passing in the NFL. Tony Romo shattered
team passing records, Terrell Owens set various receiving records
and Jason Witten had one of the most prolific seasons by a tight
end in league history. Running back Marion Barber even made the Pro
Bowl despite being a backup.
"We made great strides this year," Garrett said. "We didn't
achieve all of our goals, but we're heading in the right direction.
When (wife) Brill and I looked at each other we said, 'Boy, we have
a great chance here in Dallas."
Phillips said the importance of having both coordinators back is
something "I don't think you can emphasize enough."
"That familiarity allows us to build upon what we were able to
teach last year and puts us so far ahead of where we were at this
time a year ago," he said. "The players learned and accepted two
new philosophies on both sides of the ball last year. We will now
be able to build upon that."
Tony Sparano, who had been Dallas' assistant head coach and line
coach, was hired as the Dolphins coach on Wednesday. He worked
closely with Garrett last season, helping ease him into the
coordinator's job. Replacing Sparano -- and, perhaps, other coaches
who follow him to Miami -- is next on Jones' offseason to-do list.
Phillips said the hiring of a line coach would happen "real
quickly." A front-runner is Hudson Houck, who had the job from
1993-2001. He became available when Parcells took over the Dolphins
and swept out the assistants.