By Nick Shook
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Jason Garrett has served as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for seven seasons. After his team was eliminated Sunday, he’s made the playoffs just twice in that span.
For a franchise accustomed to competing, that might not be enough. Owner Jerry Jones isn’t letting the moment of defeat cloud his judgment, though.
“Just so we’re clear about it, I do understand frustration right after you lose a game that has as much meaningfulness as this ballgame, but I get to look at a lot of different things and have been around a lot of head coaches and coordinators,” Jones said, via ESPN. “I feel good about our head coach.”
Jones has plenty of experience with Garrett, watching his team’s former backup quarterback during its Super Bowl run of the 1990s become its offensive coordinator less than a decade later. After the ousting of Wade Phillips, he assumed the top role, a position he’s held since taking over in the middle of the 2010 season. In that span, he’s posted a 66-53 record including 13-3 and 12-4 seasons, but is suddenly heading toward his fourth 8-8 finish with a Week 17 loss.
This season has not been without challenge. Dallas was forced to play without star running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games due to his suspension, and also showed the effects of a shuffling of starters on the offensive line and a handful of injuries among the position group. Quarterback Dak Prescott has also endured second-year struggles that have made some start to forget about his scintillating rookie campaign. Simply, things have been better in Dallas.
Then again, the Cowboys are nowhere near disaster. Yes, Garrett has made the playoffs just twice, but this team was not without fault, featuring multiple holes that were covered up by the play of Prescott, Elliott and a league-best offensive line in 2016. Those weaknesses — and perhaps a new one in Dallas’ receiving corps — came to light in 2017.
Even then, Dallas reeled off three straight wins and looked much like the team it was in 2016 before Week 16’s loss.
“I’m excited about our future with Dak at quarterback, extremely excited about our future,” Jones said. “There’s no qualms, no issues if you’re talking about anyplace else relative to anything to do with the coaching, within certain boundaries, but specifically at the top. We’ve just got to get it done better.”
There’s also value in having an established head coach who also understands what it’s like to work under Jones — who is far from your typical owner — as part of the Cowboys. If anyone would know that life, it’s Garrett. It’s probably going to take slightly more than another 8-8 season to unseat him as head coach.