Black Monday was a slaughter in the NFL. A day after the season ended, head coaching heads were chopped left and right.
Then there’s Jason Garrett. He remained stuck in the middle. Stuck in the middle of the Valley Ranch muck. Stuck with Jerry.
Mr. Jones didn’t fire Garrett.
But he verbally insulted his head coach.
The Jerry sound bite I heard on TV late Sunday evening, nearly an hour and a half after the 2013 goodbye loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, was ridiculous, even by normal Jones standards.
In what was supposed to be a positive explanation of why Garrett would be coming back next season, Jones actually said:
“We’ve put a lot of effort in training as a franchise into Jason Garrett, and I want to take advantage of that. If we don’t have him, we don’t get payback for all the miscues and losses and criticism of sideline management.
“We don’t get a chance to benefit from the way you learn, and that is the mistakes you make. So I want to have him around to learn.”
Holy hell. Jerry just reduced his head coach to ongoing intern status, which was not the first time he’s done it, but this was the strongest.
And the very last guy who should be talking about “miscues,” “losses” and “criticism” should be Mr. Jones, considering his nearly two decades of general manager/ownership stupidity.
When does Jerry deliver his “payback?” When does he “learn?”
I was asking around Monday for an opinion on Garrett landing another NFL head coaching job. It was a question based on the openings that surfaced Monday in the league, with more firings sure to come.
The answers were mixed, but trended doubtful, despite some obscure names popping up immediately for these openings. Three straight seasons of 8-8 mediocrity is not going to have you in demand.
But Garrett would have been better off being fired Monday. Or quitting on the spot.
Jerry is impossible, but then there’s also the football situation, which, at the moment, is bleak. Topping out at 8-8 again might not be possible.
It’s a team that needs a complete organizational housecleaning, starting with Mr. Jones sweeping himself out the door. None of that will happen, of course.
In another postgame, postseason comment Sunday night, Jerry explained his own “football guy” status this way:
“It’s important to me that we have the kind of success our fans want, and I’m the best one to ultimately make these decisions.”
Really? How about putting that statement to a vote of the fans?
But as the longstanding theory goes, Jerry becomes more emboldened, more dug-in and more squirrelly the more the franchise fails on the field under his leadership.
It’s the old wildcatter in him. A dry hole means you drill another hole. Wildcatters, however, can only keep drilling dry holes for so long. They run out of money.
Jerry will never run out of football money. And he will never stray from the notion he’s the best football brain in the land.
But with the 2014 season now on the clock, any logical brain fogs over when thinking of the work ahead.
Tony Romo has reached a career crossroads. The high-dollar quarterback, at age 34, will enter training camp coming off two serious back surgeries in less than a year. Jones has refused forever to even think about grooming a young replacement.
No matter what Romo camp you are in — love or hate — that’s a potential disaster.
On the defensive side, however, the mess is immense because of a basic lack of talent. The front seven will have to be almost totally restocked.
The longtime best player in that group, DeMarcus Ware, has reached low-side status because of age and injury. The current best player in that group, Sean Lee, can’t stay on the field because of injuries, and the best player this season in that group, Jason Hatcher, will almost certainly be a salary cap departure.
Coaching staff-wise, more changes are expected, starting with the removal of 73-year-old Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator. The logical answer is for Kiffin to retire, and line coach Rod Marinelli to be promoted, but does Marinelli want to stay here, and Kiffin says he doesn’t want to retire.
Marinelli may be waiting for Lovie Smith to land a head coaching job, and he would follow as defensive coordinator.
This defense will be remembered for its historic debacles, but how about the irony of the two best games out of 16 were against the No. 1 offense in the NFC — those Eagles.
More disappointing for the Cowboys, however, was the lack of consistent offensive production. Desperately needed is a legitimate offensive coordinator/play-caller, and he’s got to be a guy Garrett knows and trusts. Could Norv Turner be available?
But wait. Who says Jerry will allow his head coach to make the coaching staff hires?
Jason didn’t deserve to be fired, although a couple of weeks ago I thought he would be.
But he also didn’t deserve to be reduced to an intern-in-training by Jones’ comments Sunday night.
When you are working for a football idiot, being fired or flat quitting was a better option for Garrett than the status quo.