No matter the Cowboys’ record, turning back not an option

Posted Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel Your latest Dallas Cowboys season slogan: It’s not an Armageddon Year. Not exactly Sharknado, is it?

With a black hawk symbolically circling not too far away from the opening news conference featuring Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett, the check-signer assured us that this is not an Armageddon season for his head coach.

Nor should it be, because as Jerry said, “When you work for yourself the thing that’s got to change is the mirror. Because you can’t change him out, so you work for yourself, and he’s there. You have to change what you are doing and how you are doing it. So that to me is a product of you [getting] motivated where you want to be or thought you could be.”

Like you, I have no idea what this delusional line means other than Jerry remains firmly in denial about a mirror that projects an image the rest of us clearly do not see.

Because Jerry continues to run the Cowboys today pretty much the same way he always has whenever the head coach feels overly beholden to his checks, we shouldn’t expect too much to change.

As long as that is the case, Garrett should not be fired regardless of how the 2013 season concludes. Barring a mutinous, or overly injured, type of season that ends with five or six wins, Garrett should be back next season.

In terms of time and money, the owner has simply invested too much, not only into Garrett but his quarterback, to turn back now. He has to see this through to what could potentially be a rewarding, or ultimately nauseating, conclusion.

In Jerry’s mind, his QB and coach are conjoined twins. He clearly has no interest in performing a surgery that would separate this pair.

Not to mention it would be a pointless exercise to fire Garrett if Jerry’s reflection in the mirror doesn’t change, which at this stage of his life is hard to envision.

Jerry made sure the media horde hanging on his every hyperbole and exaggeration understood that this is not a playoffs-or-he’s-fired season for his head coach. (Also of note, no owner/GM/president ever says that to open a season. Ever.)

“It’s a mistake. That’s not right,” Jerry said. “One of the neatest things about not only this year but a positive about this year is that if you’re in close here you see how Jason is responding to obviously unsatisfactory times. I can tell you firsthand that is impressive. I like that as far as looking ahead to the future. It’s very good.

“I look to the future with Jason.”

Just know that Jerry believes this statement to be true, today. He also reserves the right to change his mind, but don’t bet on that coming anytime soon regarding his coach and/or quarterback.

Jerry has been all-in on Coach Process since he hired him away from the Miami Dolphins in 2007 to be his offensive coordinator, and tacitly understood successor to Wade Phillips. Remember, in 2008 he made him the highest-paid offensive coordinator in NFL history.

Jerry has been all-in on Tony Romo since he gave him a six-year, $69 million deal in October 2007. And Jerry doubled down this off-season when he handed his QB $108 million over the next six years, including $55 mil guaranteed.

Those are monumental investments to flush, especially when there are signs — however brief — that they can succeed.

As frustrating as the Garrett regime has been — 21-19 — he still has one crucial aspect going for him: His players play for him. Despite a mediocre record, there has never been an ounce of dissension in a Garrett locker room, or any sign of fractured unity among his players or his coaching staff since he replaced Phillips.

It is a testament to Red’s ability to persuade and convince a 53-man roster he knows what he is doing, which is not always an easy sell when the results aren’t there.

Some of this mediocrity lies directly on Garrett’s lap, just as much as it does the GM and the QB.

All three of these men have had their superlative moments in the past three years — salvaging the lost 2010 season, the drafting of Dez Bryant and Morris Claiborne, the 2011 win in San Francisco, the 2012 win against the Steelers, etc.

And all three have monumental screw-ups: Play-calling, game management, consecutive regular-season finale flops in 2011 and 2012, hiring Rob Ryan, the handling of the offensive line, that wretched pick in Washington to finish the 2012 season, etc.

Unless this thing completely falls apart ala Switzer’s last year, Wade’s last year, or the entire Dave Campo era, Jerry is not going to perform surgery any time soon.

Jerry may be prone to hyperbole, but he is not kidding when he says this is not an Armageddon Year for Jason Garrett or Tony Romo.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @MacEngelProf

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