Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is at another crossroads in his short coaching career that could possibly determine, yet again, whether or not he will be in charge of the team for another season.
The Cowboys are undoubtedly off to a disappointing start to this 2012 season, compiling a 3-5 record in the first half of the season. Maybe it’s not so much about the won-loss record more than it is about how the team got to where it is.
The fan base was infused with excitement when Dallas beat the defending champions New York Giants in the season opener in a very rare Wednesday night game. The offense was efficient and the defense stymied the Giants offense.
That was followed by an uninspiring loss in Seattle – perhaps the hardest venue to play in – and then an unimpressive win over a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team in Dallas’ home opener. Then questions about game management decisions by Garrett in losses against the Chicago Bears and a home game against the Giants came into question.
It’s somewhat disheartening to see the guy that was hand-picked by owner Jerry Jones be a .500 coach at this point, especially after he took an underperforming 1-7 team in 2010 and go 5-3 the last half of the season to finish 8-8. That was the first head coaching crossroad that Garrett faced, and he passed the test.
It seemed as though Jerry finally found a guy that could bring back the glory days; a guy that would instill the character and a mental toughness similar to what the championship teams of the 1990s possessed. Garrett has done a good job with the character portion by getting “the right guys” on the roster. I don’t know if what’s missing is located between the ears or in the chest, but something is definitely missing at this point.
Garrett is at another important juncture of his young, promising head coaching career in the NFL. He’ll have another half of a season to make his point. Even with the rough start this season, Dallas could finish, theoretically, at 11-5. At this point, they could just as easily finish 3-13.
Dallas was one game better at this point last season, and then went on a run before transitioning into the trendsetting December collapse. In order for Garrett to keep his job, he’s got to keep that from happening. Can he do it? Absolutely. Opponents left on the schedule have a combined 18-30 record with the Pittsburgh Steelers representing the only team with a winning record.
Some people have their right thumb and index finger on the top right corner of a page, ready to turn it and start anew. The news of Sean Payton’s nullified contract and impending free agent status as a coach has spurred conversation of him coming to Dallas. You can’t blame fans for thinking that.
In a “win now” era of football, there’s not much leeway for Garrett. It wasn’t until Tom Landry’s seventh year as head coach for the Cowboys that he notched his first winning season. The game is different today, but I’m glad they let him keep implementing his team.
John Ingle is a graduate of the Midwestern State University Mass Communication program with an emphasis in journalism. He is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys and football fan dating back to the late 1970s and covered the Cowboys as a journalism intern during two training camps at MSU. Follow him on Twitter @inglejohn1973.