Midway through the 2010 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys gave up on then-head coach Wade Phillips. The team started the year 1-7 and capped Phillips’ tenure in Dallas with back-to-back losses by a combined score of 80-24. Then the Jason Garrett era began with two consecutive victories and then a back-and-forth, win-loss pattern for the final six games of the 2010 season. Each of those games was decided by three points or less and the Cowboys should have won all six. Such has been the state of the team ever since.
Although the Cowboys did win and lose consecutive games in 2011, Garrett’s first full year as head coach, the seesaw ways of the team became a staple of the franchise: Dallas was always close, but could never get over the hump of mediocrity. A year later, that still hasn’t changed.
Garrett seemed like the savior of the franchise with a 5-3 finish to the 2010 season following the disastrous 1-7 start. However, what delusional Cowboys fans (including team owner Jerry Jones) fail to realize is that the team had already mailed in the season with Phillips at the helm. Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer publicly admitted it after Phillips’ firing. Dallas would have finished the 2010 season 5-3 under any coach. The players just needed a change and that’s exactly what Garrett was.
However, Garrett wasn’t a good long-term change. The close-but-no-cigar games were fine in the latter half of 2010 because every member of Cowboys Nation was happy with any positive result. That’s not the case anymore, though. Dallas hasn’t improved any in two seasons, which means Garrett isn’t the solution anymore.
The Cowboys players are still playing hard after they’ve fallen behind in games. They don’t win many of these, but Dallas trailed the Washington Redskins by 25 points at halftime on Thanksgiving Day and ended up only losing the game by seven points. Thus, the players haven’t given up on Garrett yet, but they will.
Who wants to play for a coach who ices his own kicker, calls three straight pass plays on first-and-goal from the one-yard line and then won’t accept responsibility for these failures? Dallas has five games left this season and if the Cowboys have to come back from double-digit deficits in the next game or two, don’t be surprised to see them start getting blown out in the second half as well as the first.
Garrett doesn’t command respect from the players and they know it. That doesn’t mean he should say “I’m the boss” all the time. Coaches who command respect do it through their actions, which is something Garrett has never done. That takes its toll on players, especially those on a struggling team with a ton of distractions and bad breaks. The Cowboys fans have already given up on Garrett and it won’t be long before the players do, too.