Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys Need to Part Ways

Jason Garrett

The Dallas Cowboys have no business being 6-6 right now. Dak Prescott is in the midst of a career year, the offensive line is elite, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are one of the best receiver duos in the league, and the defense has some nice pieces. Based on the roster talent, this team should be on the short list of Super Bowl contenders. Instead, Jason Garrett and his suboptimal coaching has led the Cowboys to a mediocre .500 record after 12 games of action. Wasting this type of high-level is simply unacceptable, and Jerry Jones needs to move on and find a new head coach.

Jason Garrett Needs to Go

It’s Not the Talent

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick once said that players win games and coaches lose them. Based on the talent on Dallas’ roster, the Cowboys should be winning a lot of games. Entering Week 13, Dak Prescott was playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. According to Football Outsiders, Prescott was first in DYAR and DVOA metrics and third in ESPN’s QBR. His overall ranks may drop after Week 13’s underwhelming performance, but the fact remains that he is one of the best quarterbacks of 2019.

It’s possible for good quarterbacks to have mediocre records if the rest of the roster is weak. However, the Cowboys have assembled one of the best units in the league, from a talent standpoint. Amari Cooper is a top-15 receiver, Michael Gallup is a star in the making, the offensive line is elite, and the defense features star players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander-Esch, and Byron Jones. Most coaches would kill for talent like this, yet Garrett cannot make this team reach their potential.

This isn’t a one-season fluke by any means. Garrett has served as head coach since 2011, a rare feat in today’s era of coaching turnover. Interestingly enough, Garrett is one of seven head coaches who has been with their team since 2011 (Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera). Of those seven, six have made the Super Bowl at least one time. Take one guess at who the seventh coach is.

Jason Garrett has yet to advance beyond the NFC Divisional Round despite having Prescott and Tony Romo for the vast majority of his time as a head coach. The quarterback and roster talent isn’t the problem, and Garrett can’t deflect the blame forever.

Sub-Optimal Playcalling and A Refusal To Adapt

The biggest problem with Garrett is his frustrating conservatism and inability to adapt to new information. Thanks to a recent surge in the analytics community, it’s now easier than ever to optimize an offense. For starters, we now know that passing is better than running on early downs and that coaches should be more aggressive on fourth down. Garrett refuses to accept this data and even admitted to not using in-game win probability. While every other relevant organization in the league is moving forward, Garrett is stuck in the past with his head in the sand.

Instead of trying to maximize scoring opportunities, Garrett prefers to engage in low-scoring affairs and win games by final margins of 17-10. While this type of strategy can work, it requires almost perfect execution and leaves no margin for error. Take Week 12’s loss to the New England Patriots as an example. The Cowboys had the ball late in the game, looking to put together a game-winning drive. Dallas appeared to pick up a first down on third and short, but a tripping penalty erased the first down and pushed the Cowboys back 10 yards.

The Cowboys later turned the ball over on downs, but many blame the tripping call for the loss. While it was a bad call, Garrett’s in-game decision making had a far bigger impact on the final outcome. Had Garrett not played so cautiously throughout the contest, the Cowboys might not have been in position for one call to completely destroy their comeback attempt.

Why the Time is Now to Fire Jason Garrett

Barring a miracle, it sure looks like this will be Jason Garrett’s last season in Dallas. Jerry Jones is clearly furious with the direction of the franchise but reports state that he won’t fire Garrett during the season. Jones still believes in the talent on the roster and thinks that this team can get hot and make noise in the playoffs.

Jones has every right to believe in the roster talent, but this team is more likely to find playoff success without Garrett than with him. For one, it’s hard to imagine the in-game coaching and gameplan decisions getting any worse. Garrett reportedly is a good players’ coach, and there is some value to that. However, the most important part of coaching is putting the team in position to win, and Garrett isn’t particularly good at that aspect of the job. Chances are, Kris Richard, Kellen Moore, or anyone else on the coaching staff could at least match Garrett’s game-planning abilities and in-game strategies.

Additionally, there’s no better way to light a fire under the team than by getting rid of the man in charge. 6-6 simply isn’t good enough for a team with this type of talent, and everyone knows it. Firing Garrett sends a message that failure is not an option, and this spark could produce a flame that leads to a deep playoff run. This is, admittedly, a best-case scenario and isn’t a guaranteed result. However, the worst-case scenario for firing Garrett isn’t that bad.

If the interim head coach is unable to match Garrett’s game-planning abilities, the Cowboys probably won’t win the division or will experience a quick playoff exit. If they keep Garrett, they probably won’t win the division or will experience a quick playoff exit. Jerry Jones needs to try something new, because the current iteration of the coaching staff simply isn’t cutting it.

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