It may seem like a bad time to question Jason Garrett since he’s coming off the best season of his coaching tenure with the Cowboys. The issue, however, comes from Dallas’ lack of playoff success with Garrett at the helm. In six full seasons, his teams have made the playoffs just twice, with one postseason win in 2014.
The Cowboys were perhaps the best team in football last year, and Garrett deserves credit for leading the team to an impressive 13-3 record. Despite a first-round bye and home playoff game against the Packers — a team that Dallas previously defeated in the regular season — the Cowboys went home early yet again.
I’m not trying to paint Jason Garrett as a bad coach, in fact you could make the argument that he’s overachieved given the circumstances. Tony Romo was frequently injured, Jerry Jones is constantly stirring the pot and keeping Dallas in the headlines, yet Garrett always finds a way to stay upbeat.
He undoubtedly helped fourth-round pick Dak Prescott have success as a rookie, but gets little credit, despite being a former quarterback coach and offensive coordinator.
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Another thing going against Garrett is a perceived lack of power in personnel decisions. He surely has a voice, but this is Jerry’s team, make no mistake about it. Instead, Jones and company have given Garrett offensively-centered rosters that have been consistently exciting to watch, despite their lack of consistent success.
Building a great offensive line was smart, though, and the Cowboys now have an identity as a tough, physical football team. But stopping elite guys like Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan requires an ability to get to the quarterback.
In this past draft, the Cowboys finally focused on building their defense, adding Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis. Their young guys may be great players one day (Jaylon Smith included), but it’s not realistic to expect them to make the impact that’s needed to get this team over the hump in 2017.
Year after year, fans get more divided over whether Garrett is the right guy to lead America’s team back to the promised land. Until this Dallas team has a deep playoff run, there won’t be a consensus on Garrett.
Most coaches are the face of their team, but with Jerry Jones taking center stage, you have to wonder if Garrett is actually making the best of a bad situation. Or is he simply a mediocre football coach, saying the right things to stay in Jones’ good graces?
Garrett’s players respect him, he doesn’t make excuses, but until he can make the Cowboys a relevant team in the postseason, this question will continue to exist.