The Cowboys looked like world-beaters when they started 3-0—but against three of the worst teams in the league, the Giants, Washington, and Miami. Dallas then looked lost in two straight losses—but to good teams, New Orleans and Green Bay. So far, so predictable, at least for a middling team, which is what the Cowboys might simply be. But now they’ve gone from merely giving off the faint stench of doo-doo to a full-on shitshow, and head coach Jason Garrett’s job is, apparently, a tiny bit less safe than it was 24 hours ago.
Sunday’s 24-22 loss to the Jets saw the Cowboys come out unprepared and underwhelm in all phases, from an uncreative and uninspired offense to a defense that often had no answers for Sam Darnold and his healthy, medium-sized spleen.
Garrett is in the final year of his contract, and the team’s declining to give him an extension has made clear that he’s coaching for his job this season. With as much talent as the Cowboys have, anything short of a playoff appearance, and maybe even a deep-ish postseason run, isn’t going to cut it; a .500 record certainly isn’t. “I was a lot happier with what [Garrett] had done the first three games than what’s happened the last three games,” owner Jerry Jones deadpanned last night.
Jones hasn’t historically made midseason coaching changes; his only one was firing Wade Phillips at 1-7 in 2010, which first handed Garrett the reins. But Garrett’s contract situation, combined with all the big extensions handed out by the Cowboys this summer signifying they’re in win-now mode, has made Garrett’s job security a question for the short term, not something that can wait until after the season. And Jones has been hearing the question.
On his weekly radio appearance a few days ago, Jones was straight-up asked if Garrett could be fired in-season. He was unequivocal, saying, “Don’t bet any money [on] that happening. You’ll lose it.”
Last night, he was ... well, equivocal. “I’m not even coming close to those future-type considerations,” he said. I’m not thinking about it right now is not the same thing as no.
If there’s any consolation for Garrett, perhaps it’s that Jones, celebrating his 77th birthday Sunday, acknowledged that there’s plenty of blame to go around for the Cowboys’ three-game losing streak. “The big thing I want to say is it’s not just him,” Jones said of his coach. But that might be cold comfort. If an undeniably talented team is underperforming “across the board,” as Jones put it, that falls on the coaching staff, and it’s not just a single coordinator who can be sacrificed at the altar of shaking things up. And if Jones thinks Garrett is genuinely the problem, it behooves him to consider a coaching change sooner rather than later—before a team with Super Bowl aspirations finds itself struggling to win its division.