CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 08: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 8, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has always supported head coach Jason Garrett, but if the team struggles for the rest of the season, could he look for a higher-profile replacement? SI’s Peter King believes that’s a possibility.
In his weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column for Sports Illustrated, King dropped in this nugget:
I would not be at all surprised if the Cowboys have a bad final three weeks if Jerry Jones goes after Gruden hard.
That comment came in the context of whether Gruden would leave ESPN for a coaching job. King says ESPN would be upset with Gruden if he left them, especially after they moved Ron Jaworski out of the “Monday Night Football” booth to accommodate him. He also says that Gruden would want to go to a team with a smart, veteran quarterback. Neither of those notes are new information, but they’re worth repeating.
So about the whole Cowboys thing. Jones fired Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start to the 2010 season. Garrett, who was the offensive coordinator at the time, replaced Phillips and the team finished 5-3. They went 8-8 last year, and they are 7-6 this season. Garrett is the guy Jones made the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL in 2008 in order to keep him from taking jobs with Arizona or Baltimore. He has a lot invested in Garrett, and he’s been reluctant to say that Garrett’s job is in jeopardy.
Dallas’ next three games include home games against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, and a road game at Washington to end the season. The Cowboys have won four of five (including two against the Eagles), but the final three games will be challenging. Should they finish 7-9 with three losses, Garrett will have a .500 head coaching record for his career. I think it’s quite plausible that they go 1-2 to finish 8-8, leaving Jones unhappy.
Jones is not afraid to pay big money for a coach (see the $3 million he paid Garrett as an assistant), or to go after a big name (think Bill Parcells). With the Giants winning Super Bowls and the Redskins emerging behind Robert Griffin III, Jones may feel like making a run at Jon Gruden is something he needs to do to keep up in the division.
The next three weeks certainly will be interesting.
H/T Richard Deitsch