Is Jerry Jones 'Smoking Something'? Cowboys Owner Backs Garrett Even After Thanksgiving Debacle
ARLINGTON - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been remarkably supportive of beleaguered coach Jason Garrett, before Thursday's Thanksgiving kickoff even referring to Garrett as a "master'' of coaching.
"The answer'' regarding an in-season sacking of Garrett, though, as he told us a few days ago on 105.3 The Fan, "is 'no.' And 'period.'''
Is it, following this 26-15 embarrassment at the hands of the Bills, time for a new coach? Or, at least, a new punctuation mark?
I asked that question of Jones as he stood outside a home-team locker room occupied by screams, yelps and tears.
“This,'' said Jones, tears welling up in his eyes, "is not the time ... I'm not going to make a coaching change ...
"I’m looking ahead at another ballgame. I’m looking ahead at winning four or five straight and helping write a story they will talk about, how it looks like you’re down-and-out. And I mean that. That’s the way that I’m operating. Every decision that I make over the next month will be with an eye in mind to get us in the Super Bowl now.”
Seriously, Jerry? He continued his answer to my question fully aware of the incredulous response that would come from a Cowboys Nation that rained boos down on Garrett in his own home building, before, during and after the game.
I mean ... the Super Bowl?
Said Jerry: "I would normally say, “You’re smoking something.’ I normally would say that, but I know the room ... I believe in this group.”
In dropping to a 6-6 record that somehow seems better than it deserves, Dallas opposed a Bills team with no skins on a wall QB'ed by a kid and coached by a "household name'' only in his own house. But the Bills (now 9-3) grandly outclassed the Cowboys here in a lopsided defeat. And QB Josh Allen and his teammates did the same to QB Dak Prescott and his.
And a Buffalo coach by the name of ... let me look this up ... here it is ... "Sean McDermott'' ... out-mastered "The Master.''
And what does "The Master'' say about all of this?
“You just have to get back to work,'' Garrett said of his moribund team. "That’s the nature of the National Football League. It’s hard every week. You are going to deal with adversities over the course of the year. You’re going to have to deal with the successes over the course of the year. You have to learn from them and move on and get ready for the next challenge.”
It is the Jones family's intention to allow Garrett finish the season as the team's head coach, but that's not about loyalty, not anymore. The truth: If Jerry or Stephen Jones thought firing Garrett and elevating a staffer (Kris Richard or Rod Marinelli or Kellen Moore) to the top job would increase Dallas odds of winning playoff games, they wouldn't have even allowed Jason to enter AT&T Stadium without a ticket.
We'd have a zero chance,'' Jerry told me, "if we didn't have him.'
Indeed, dumping RedBall and elevating Rod Marinelli or Kris Richard or Kellen Moore doesn't really offer a magic-wand solution. So the owner is trying what he can try. For instance, Jerry privately believes his daily public roasting of Garrett and the coaching staff since the team's 13-9 loss at New England last week was more than personally cathartic; he hoped it'd prove to be inspirational, just as he believes his support should be.
(There is therefore no hypocrisy in Jones pro-RedBall words vs. his anti-RedBall words. He is, simply, "Just trying to win a damn football game'' and is saying whatever he thinks might help.)
But even Jerry - Garrett's most passionate supporter throughout a 10-year career here that now has the coach in the final year of his contract, a relationship Jones proudly called "A football life with Jason'' - cannot pretend all is OK. This was a national-TV loss in which every play, every snap, every decision, should've been infused with a healthy desperation. And, given the Jones' belief in this "title-contending roster,'' maybe even a healthy domination.
The Cowboys scored an early TD to grab a 7-0 lead and went for it once on fourth-and-short from their own 19 and ... I don't have any other examples of where all the advantages of "being America's Team'' or "playing at home on Thanksgiving'' worked in the Cowboys' way.
Due to NFC East ineptitude, Dallas - now 0-5 against foes with winning records - remains assured of being no worse than tied for the NFC East lead heading into Week 14.
Do teams fire first-place coaches? No. But is there anything about Jason Garrett's 2019 Cowboys that feels like "first-place''?
"I'll assure you,'' Jerry said to 105.3 The Fan in pregame, "that you won't find somebody that knows how to do all of the things a head coach has to do better than Jason Garrett.''
That's not true. But more importantly, even if Jones thinks it is true, this is more true: Even if "you can't find a coach better than Garrett'' ... the Jones family is about a month away from trying to do just that.