A day after his team turned in its flattest performance of a 3-5 start in a Monday night loss to the Tennessee Titans, Garrett did what he always does. He insisted that the Cowboys can turn it around. In his eighth full season as coach of the Cowboys, Garrett’s tenure is arguably facing its biggest test.
Considering the Cowboys were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached coming off a bye week, a change in offensive line coaches and, most of all, adding what was thought to be most ailing the offense, a premier wide receiver in Amari Cooper via trade.
None of it mattered when on Monday night after the Titans stopped fumbling. The Dallas’ defense, for the first time this season, looked average at best, and the offense, reverted back to a confusing mix of penalties, sacks and inconsistency.
“I just focus on doing my job as well as I can do it every day,” Garrett said when asked about his job security. “We just have to focus on what we need to do. We just have to clean up the game and we have to get our eyes on Philadelphia right now. It’s a short week.”
The schedule doesn’t do Dallas any favors. By the time the Cowboys are back at AT&T Stadium, they could be 3-8 after trips to Philadelphia and Atlanta. Will Garrett still be the coach on Thanksgiving?
“I’ll assure you that this is a concern of his,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on the KRLD/105.3 The Fan Tuesday morning. “He’s keenly aware. You’d have to be a complete robot to not understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do. What he will do is go about, in his judgment, the best way to line up and play this game this week ... don’t look for any real major changes in terms of coaching or in terms of how we address personnel. Look for what we come out with and the adjustments that we’ve made based upon what we think this team will do after what we had seen [Monday] night. I don’t mind telling you teams are going to re-look at how they handle us when Tennessee played us.”
If Jones is referring to the Cowboys’ offense, he’s delusional, because defenses haven’t struggled much to solve anything the Dallas’ offense has shown them.
Monday night, of course, the Cowboys had to settle for just a touchdown despite being gifted two first-quarter fumbles that almost begged them to put Tennessee out of its misery by halftime. They missed a field goal and Dak Prescott threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage that was intercepted in the end zone. The momentum shifted, Cowboys’ players acknowledged, and neither side of the ball showed any ability to recapture it.
“Unfortunately, as a team, we didn’t play 60 minutes in the game and you have to respond to success, you have to respond to adversity the right way,” Garrett said. “That’s’ something you try to instill in your team, it’s a 60 minute game. You have to put the good things behind you and keep going and you have to put the adversity behind you and keep going, make plays. Whatever those adversities are, they come up for every team, every week we just didn’t do a good enough job of that last night.”
Will that sit well with Jones, who said multiple times during his post-game press conference that he was surprised by how poorly the team played? Jones said he won’t consider any more coaching changes during the season, despite an unprecedented level of animus coming from frustrated fans insisting on a coaching change.
“I think the best way for us to have an opportunity to be successful is to basically stay with what we’re doing and get better,” said Jones, who added he’s not against change. “I do listen to what the fans say. Make no mistake about that. And I’m making changes and I have made changes this past week. Things are constantly changing ... we need to play better. I’m certainly concerned about our record as it gives us a chance to be in the playoffs, but I’m more concerned with how we played and playing better.”
Jones took a similar stance in 2010 when Dallas started 1-7 under Wade Phillips. Instead, after a 45-7 loss at Green Bay on Nov. 6, 2010, Jones fired Phillips and replaced him with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. It was the first time a Cowboys’ head coach was fired mid-season.