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Jason Garrett is safe

Staff Writer

Published: 30 December 2013 10:52 PM

Updated: 30 December 2013 10:52 PM

IRVING — Another season ends in the mediocre embrace of .500, and the Cowboys grapple with the fallout.

Jason Garrett met with owner Jerry Jones in the wake of a third consecutive 8-8 season and called the conversation positive. The head coach lives to battle and fight and scratch and claw and bang away — his rallying cry Monday — as the franchise tries to extricate itself from the NFL’s big, soft middle.

Changes are on the horizon. While it appears Garrett is safe, the head coach pointedly refused to evaluate the performance of coordinators Monte Kiffin and Bill Callahan in his season-ending news conference. He didn’t touch on the difficult personnel decisions that lie ahead.

Along with this intrigue, there is a broader question. How do the players believe Garrett has them on the right path when that path has hit a dead end in the final game of the regular season the last three seasons?

“I mean, you get tired of it,” defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. “After a while, each year, you feel like you lose something. How do you come back from that?

“It’s been three times there has been an NFC East game, and not being able to follow through with it … So it’s like, now what do you do in the off-season to make sure that doesn’t happen?

“I know that we are going to do everything we can to do. But are you sure that you are doing the right things?”

Jones and Garrett addressed the team at high noon Monday before the players went about their exit interviews and physicals. Jones was described as upbeat — when is he not? — but promised there would be big changes for a team that suffered five losses by a total of eight points.

Jones spoke in the aftermath of the team’s loss to Philadelphia about the need to be creative this off-season because of the team’s salary-cap restraints and how the club must do something inordinate to break out of its mediocre rut. Putting a finger on how to proceed is another matter.

“It’s like holding Jello,” Jones said. “When you reach up and try to grab it, it’s coming out someplace else.”

As the Cowboys wiggle and jiggle at .500, Garrett is convinced his players still believe in his program. “That’s a big part of the identity of the football team that you’re trying to establish, Garrett said.

“Now, we haven’t gotten the job done so we have to live with that reality. The bottom line matters. But how you do things and how you play matters. You have to continue to build on that and believe you’re going to break through in the other areas to take the next step.”

Tight end Jason Witten said it was reassuring to know that Garrett will return as head coach. Ware called him a great coach and said he’s behind the owner’s decision 100 percent.

Jones views Garrett as an investment of time and money, and he offers an interesting rationale for why he should return as coach.

“If we don’t have him, we don’t get payback for all the miscues and losses and criticism of sideline management,” Jones said. “We don’t get a chance to benefit from the one way you learn, and that is the mistakes you make. So I want to have him around to learn.

“I’ve seen another smart coach, a very smart coach, learn from a lot of mistakes early and go on and win Super Bowls. Most of them do. All of them would tell you that.”

The public support Garrett received was not forthcoming for Kiffin or Callahan. Asked on several occasions to comment on Kiffin and the defense, Garrett said, “I don’t want to make those evaluations right now.” He took the same stance with Callahan.

The defense allowed a franchise record 6,645 yards this season. The 432 points scored against the Cowboys was just four shy of the franchise mark for futility.

There are a lot of moving parts as the club works to resolve Kiffin’s status. A return in his current position as defensive coordinator appears unlikely. Rod Marinelli is the logical move if the club replaces from within, but if he doesn’t like the way his good friend is treated on the way out, he could decline or try to get the club to let him out of his contract.

Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz are two head coaches let go Monday with defensive backgrounds.

It’s just part of what promises to be a busy off-season. Do the players have faith the organization will get it right?

“I think as players, we’re fortunate to play for this organization,” Witten said. “You don’t waver at that.

“There’s nobody that has more invested and wants it more than the Jones family. So I believe in that. That’s what makes it so fun to come to work at a place like this. I know that they’ll do what’s best for this organization.

“As players, we have to control what we can control. And that’s obviously, put it on us to play better in those games. That’s where it lies — in our hands. We have to deal with it because we didn’t play well enough to win these games.”

Ghost Town


Posted by Michael David Smith on December 30, 2013, 6:09 PM EST

Each of Jason Garrett’s three full seasons as head coach of the Cowboys has ended the same way: The Cowboys went into Week 17 with an 8-7 record, needing to win their final game to win the NFC East, and instead lost and fell to 8-8, finishing out of the playoffs.

Garrett knows that’s not good enough. But he also told reporters today that he believes the way his team played hard in Sunday night’s loss to the Eagles should be a source of pride.

“We understand it’s a bottom line business and we did not get the job done,” Garrett said. “There’s a lot to be proud of with this football team, a lot to be proud of the performance last night.”

Now the Cowboys turn their attention to the future. Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones says he remains committed to Garrett, although it seems highly likely that major changes will be coming to Garrett’s coaching staff. Garrett said it would be premature to talk about the future of his staff, although defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s job security would certainly seem to be in doubt, considering that Garrett emphasized that the Cowboys’ defense has to get better.

“We have to play better on defense, there’s no question about that,” Garrett said.

Ultimately, Garrett knows that no matter how proud of his team he is, his team fell short of its goal.

“We’ve done that the last three years, we played the last game of the season for the NFC East and we didn’t get the job done,” Garrett said. “And we all have to live with that.”

Fortunately for Garrett, Jones is going to let him live with that for one more season in Dallas.

This the first time JJ did something smart in a long time. Garrett can lead this team to the SB. The draft next year will get us those players we need to make a rum. Thanks JJ for finally not having a knee jerk reaction.

I don't like the sounds of what next year is shaping up to be like.  I can foresee a potentially 6-10 type season and Garrett assuredly gets fired.

MrMiyamoto wrote:
I don't like the sounds of what next year is shaping up to be like.  I can foresee a potentially 6-10 type season and Garrett assuredly gets fired.

I don't see it, we will be getting rid of at least 8 players. We are going to have a lot of draft choices this coming season.

The coaching situation is still up in the air at the moment. So its a wait and see, actually I have a positive feeling about next year.

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