Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/13/11
For two former Dallas Cowboys assistant coaches, yesterday was Black Monday. Both Todd Haley and Tony Sparano were relieved of their head-coaching jobs in Kansas City and Miami, which should make them prime candidates to serve as Jason Garrett's offensive coordinator with the Cowboys next season. But we all know that's not happening. Cowboys ownergeneral manager Jerry Jones is enamored with the dual-role head coach, as we've seen with Wade Phillips and now Garrett. And the Cowboys head coach has shown no interest in turning over his play-calling duties to someone else despite his obvious deficiencies as a game manager. You have to hand it to FOX's Jimmy Johnson for saying Garrett needed to become a "walk-around" head coach a couple weeks before his former backup quarterback embarrassed himself in the final minute of regulation against the Arizona Cardinals. And Garrett's credibility suffered more damage when he stubbornly refused to admit he'd made a mistake. Apparently he made this admission to his players in a team meeting last week, according to what outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware told NBC. But the damage had already been done. In the aftermath of Sunday's choke job against the New York Giants, Garrett's stock has plummeted to the point where Jones was asked Tuesday on the Cowboys' flagship station whether his coach's job security was a concern. "Well, that's not a question that's in my mind, kinda worth responding to," Jones told 105.3 The Fan. "But the answer is no, and we're just getting started here." For the record, it's hard to imagine any scenario in which Garrett's fired at the end of the season. He's certainly not doing himself any favors the last couple weeks, but his relationship with Jones is strong enough to weather this storm. But that doesn't change the fact that he's getting battered across the country. It's one thing for the fans to voice their displeasure, but it's a little more jolting to hear men such as Bill Cowher, Mike Ditka and Johnson question Garrett's decision-making. Every head coach will be second-guessed at some point during a season, but Garrett has left himself open to outright mockery. Fair or not, his time on the Princeton campus and long career as an NFL backup quarterback makes us think of him as an intellectual. But even the smartest guy in the room can be a bit absent-minded at times. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Garrett seems to freeze at the worst-possible moments. As the Giants were preparing to score from the Cowboys' 1-yard line with a little more than a minute left in Sunday's game, TV cameras captured footage of Jones and one of his grandsons screaming for Garrett to take a timeout. Garrett allowed precious seconds to tick off the clock before finally signaling for a timeout. And who knows if those seconds may have allowed kicker Dan Bailey to attempt a shorter field goal. For all the good things that have occurred on Garrett's watch, it is disturbing how often his teams lose leads in the fourth quarter. In eight of his nine losses, the Cowboys have held the lead at some point in the fourth quarter. And we've seen the Cowboys lose three games this season in which they held double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. To be sure, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan should share a lot of the blame. He did a remarkable job early this season confusing teams with his unique scheme, but the defense was then torched by some non-descript quarterbacks such as Rex Grossman, Matt Moore and Kevin Kolb. By the time Eli Manning arrived in Arlington, no one should've been surprised by his 400-yard display. The reality is that we held Garrett and Ryan to a higher standard based on how the Cowboys played against teams such as the Jets and 49ers early in the season. If the Cowboys had simply limped toward a .500 season from the start, there wouldn't be as much of an uproar. But by the time they improved to a 7-4 record, this looked like the third or fourth best team in the NFC. Now, the Cowboys will likely have to win out to qualify for the playoffs. It didn't have to be this way. If Garrett doesn't lose his mind against the Cardinals, the Cowboys likely improve to 8-4 and have some wiggle room against the 6-6 New York Giants. Instead, the Cowboys breathed life into a Giants team that had lost four straight games. This was the perfect season for a middling team such as the Cowboys to make the playoffs because the NFC East has been so mediocre. But like so many past Decembers, the team has come up small at the worst possible time. There's a lot of blame to go around right now, but Garrett's become the face of this December failure. And he's running out of time to change the storyline. It's probably too early for anyone to be asking about Garrett's job security. But no coach in the NFL has seen his stock fall in such dramatic fashion. They don't do approval ratings for NFL head coaches, and at this point, the Garrett family should be extremely thankful.
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