Sports Outside the Beltway

Jason Garrett New Dallas Cowboys Coach

Jason Garrett, who went 5-3 as interim coach, has been named the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer for ESPN:

The expected has happened. Jason Garrett has been named the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach, sources said Thursday.

The team has scheduled a press conference for 1:30 p.m. CT to make an official announcement.

Terms of the deal were not available, but Garrett had one year remaining on his contract as the assistant head coach that paid him $3.5 million annually.

Considered the favorite all along, Garrett is the eighth coach in franchise history and owner/general manager Jerry Jones did not feel the need for an exhaustive search. He interviewed wide receivers coach Ray Sherman to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which states a team must talk with at least one minority coach during the process.

He also interviewed Miami Dolphins assistant Todd Bowles, a former Dallas assistant.

Jones wanted to finalize the deal quickly because he didn’t want other teams with vacancies getting their hands on Garrett.


For Garrett, 44, this seems like the culmination of a process that started when he joined the Cowboys before Jones even named Phillips the coach in 2007. He was viewed as the coach-in-waiting ever since but interviewed with Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Detroit and St. Louis. After Garrett turned down the Ravens, Jones made him the highest-paid assistant in the NFL with a $3.5 million salary.

Garrett was the obvious choice for the job and frankly should have been hired two years ago when it was obvious Wade Phillips didn’t have what it takes to lead a team to a championship. (Okay, so it was obvious before he was hired to everyone not named Jerry Jones.  As I put it in a post four years ago, when his hiring was rumored, “Wade Freakin’ Phillips?!)

In a separate piece, Archer notes that Garrett will be the 7th active head coach who played in the League.

Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher was a defensive back for Chicago and just finished his 17th year with the Titans/Oilers. Owner and GM Jerry Jones would like that kind of stability.

Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio had an 11-year career as a linebacker, including a stint with the Cowboys from 1989-91, and just completed his eighth year as the Jaguars’ coach. Gary Kubiak spent nine years as John Elway’s backup in Denver and just finished his fifth year as Houston’s coach.

Ken Whisenhunt was a tight end for Atlanta, Washington and the New York Jets and is heading into his fifth year as Arizona’s coach. Leslie Frazier spent five years as a cornerback in Chicago and, like Garrett, turned an interim job in 2010 into a permanent post with Minnesota.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton’s playing career lasted three games with Chicago during the 1987 strike-seaso. One former player-turned-coach, Mike Singletary, was fired in San Francisco with a game to go.

And there could be other former players added to the mix this off-season: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who played for Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore and San Diego, and Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who played for Minnesota and Pittsburgh, have had interviews recently. And don’t forget Bill Cowher could also come back this year.

While I don’t expect 29 years and five trips to the Super Bowl from Garrett, it’s noteworthy that the Cowboys’ first and longest serving coach, the legendary Tom Landry, was also a former player.

Other reactions:

Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

It was akin to the prodigal son being summoned home to one day take his rightful place as heir to the throne, considering he was a highly-respected backup quarterback on two Super Bowl title teams in the 1990s and the son of former longtime scout Jim Garrett.

The feeling grew stronger in the coming years when Garrett shunned head coaching opportunities in Atlanta and Baltimore, among others, to remain with the Cowboys, setting the stage for the inevitable. And then when Garrett was tabbed as the interim coach to replace the fired Wade Phillips following a 1-7 start and led them to a 5-3 finish in 2010, it was only a matter of time and paperwork.

The time is now and a new day finally dawns on the Cowboys franchise when Jones officially promotes Garrett to head coach at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. today at Cowboys Stadium.

Jones made the move after interviewing receivers coach Ray Sherman on Tuesday and Miami Dolphins assistant head coach Todd Bowles on Wednesday to adhere to the league-mandated Rooney Rule. Garrett is the eighth coach in Cowboys history.

Jones has always felt the Princeton-schooled Garrett had a bright offensive mind and would one day make a future head coach. Those feelings were cemented over the past eight weeks of the season when he proved he could also be the firm leader and effective motivator.

On his tenure as interim coach:

What Garrett did best was being a leader and changing the lackadaisical culture of the locker room. He stressed hard work, preparation and accountability. All three were absent in the final days of the Wade Philips era.

“I think we’re going to be a lot better with him in charge,” Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten said. “I think he has a clear message. He has a plan and he does a great job of making that plan is clear and giving us the best chance to be at our best, coaches and players, on Sunday.  I believe in him. I believe that he can make us winners in a timely fashion. All his messages, his mentality, all of that is so we’re at our best, and those distractions are eliminated and you focus on being the best football player you can be.”

The belief that the Cowboys can quickly get back to their winning ways under Garrett is one reason why Jones worked fast to make the promotion happen just three days after the season final victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jones said he will work with Garrett to overhaul the roster and usher in dramatic personnel changes. Despite the disappointment of predicting a dream Super Bowl season in 2010 and only to finish 6-10 and tied for last in the NFC East, Jones is back to talking big.

He believes the Cowboys have the talent base to again make a playoff and possible Super Bowl run in 2011 under Garrett.


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