I don’t think Jerry Jones should care if Skip Bayless is his quarterback in Sunday night’s NFC East championship game. One game – no matter the stakes, no matter the guy taking the snaps – should have zero bearing on his belief in his head coach at this point.
By now, he either trusts Garrett to lead the Cowboys to title contention next year or he doesn’t, barring an unexpected playoff run.
The Cowboys are what they are – a flawed, at times boneheaded, injury-stricken, hard-playing group that’s just good enough to play for first place in the league’s worst division. Yes, it’s worse than the NFC North – a healthy Aaron Rodgers would’ve pushed the Packers to at least 10 wins, maybe 11 or 12.
As multiple national outlets report that Romo’s back injury will require season-ending surgery – reports unconfirmed by the team to this point – many now think Jerry has the excuse he needs to keep his hand-picked third-year head coach: the man Jerry hired in 2007 as an unproven play-caller before hiring then-head coach Wade Phillips; the man Jerry wanted on the Cowboys’ staff more than a decade ago; the man with the offensive mind Jerry expected to match Sean Payton’s in New Orleans; the man most assume Jerry really, truly doesn’t want to fire.
You think Jerry can sit back with his feet up in his midfield box at AT&T Stadium on Sunday night, raise a glass to Kyle Orton and say, “Welp”?
A loss to the Eagles, close or ugly, with or without Romo, would crush him.
He’s 70 years old. He’s staring down the barrel of three straight win-or-go-home failures, three straight middling 8-8 records. The next day, he and his staff would have to drag themselves off the canvas and spend the next nine months – nine months, again – trying to fix this roster, praying for better health, telling fans and media that somehow 2014 will be different. Who’s to say it will be?
Jerry will be furious with a loss Sunday night, no matter what.
But after 57 games, he already has a thick enough file on Jason Garrett – at least, in the regular season. What hasn’t he seen yet? Embarrassing blowout losses on national TV? Check. Incomprehensible blown leads? Check. Heroic comebacks? Check. Admirable leadership through team tragedy? Check.
By now, he either keeps Garrett for these reasons …
- Inexplicable amount of injuries
- Team’s resolve in spite of those injuries
- Development of young players
- Admission that he as GM didn’t construct a Super Bowl roster, even at full strength
… or he fires Garrett for these reasons:
- Plain impatience with three years of average football
- Questionable late-clock management at times for three years
- Worst defense in franchise history (regardless of who fired Rob Ryan in January)
- Erratic play-calling (regardless of who’s doing it)
The owner says Garrett isn’t coaching for his job Sunday night, and he may very well have his mind made up. Maybe the win in Washington convinced him Garrett has a strong enough pulse of the team. Maybe Garrett’s job was never in jeopardy at all. Or maybe a blowout loss to Philly, with a healthy Romo, would’ve pushed Jerry over the edge. We’ll probably never know.
But making franchise-altering decisions off one game, no matter how big, isn’t rational. It’s purely emotional.
Stick with him or move on.
*Aaron Rodgers is 30, and the Packers are risking a playoff berth to protect their franchise quarterback’s partially-healed collarbone. Romo is 33; if there’s a structural issue with his back, it’s simply hard to imagine the Cowboys risking him, either. Purely my two cents.
*Chip Kelly’s “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight” postgame comment was just awesome. It’s clear he understands his team’s personality and he seems to have them primed for a strong finish. They played with such tremendous confidence against Chicago, no matter how bad that Bears defense has become.
*If Romo doesn’t play, the Eagles are exactly the wrong opponent for the Cowboys to shift to a run-oriented offense. I’m all for balance, but you can only play keep-away for so long in pretty good weather conditions.
*DeMarco Murray is the Cowboys’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006. That’s tied with New Orleans for the second-longest franchise drought; the Lions haven’t had one since 2004.
(Photo Credit: DallasCowboys.com)