Jerry Jones talks about his philosophy for searching for a head coach
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was interviewed on 105.3 The Fan on Friday to discuss his promoting of Jason Garrett and fans’ complaints with him as general manager and owner. Here are some highlights:
For quite a while, you backed Wade Phillips and said you wouldn’t make a change midway through a season. At what point did you change your mind?
This should be a cumulative thing for me and it is and you weigh a lot of things. As you should know, I carry around, in the back of my mind, the lay of the land, relative to coach and should. And so, to me, it was a looking at where we were going as a team; it was certainly looking at how much season we had left. I’m well aware that coaching changes in mid-stream in the NFL do not have a successful track record. On the other hand, Jason [Garrett] does have, he has had, some unique qualities. He won’t come in here with the honeymoon that I might have envisioned at some time in his career, but certainly, he’ll come in here with a different approach. We’ve got eight games left; I think our team…we have the players with the skills. We get on the right track, get positive and some good things could happen for us and possibly brighten this picture up as far as our future, Jason Garrett, those kinds of things.
What does Jason Garrett need to do to get the full time job?
Well, I think we all know what the challenge is; it’s a huge challenge for our team and of course, a huge challenge for Jason. If he can meet this challenge head on; if he can pull this nose up; if he can do things that you can see that direction, then that’s going to be impressive. Very few people have ever come into a coaching position with many more challenges and we all know his qualities: he’s from a great football background and he’s got a great background with the Cowboys. I know what he’s capable of; his demeanor, how he holds himself, how he approaches, I know all of those things. There’s no stranger here for me in Jason Garrett. But how the team responds, what we can do on a player-by-player basis that has up-kick to it; all of those things will weight into it. I do not have a won-loss percentage in mind or number of wins that will impact what I do in the future.
Can you sell Jason Garrett to the fans or do you think you’ll have to go and get a big-name head coach in the offseason?
I really don’t think it’s a question of selling him. I think it’s pretty clear, pretty transparent at this point, to all of our fans, what are challenges are. We’ve had a lot of people fall between the cracks but we have the highest winning percentage over the last six years in the NFC. The Cowboys. And yes, we aren’t getting where any of want to be. I hear the criticism about our structure: my being general manager as well as the owner. Obviously, I can statue to death about general managers around the NFL; the average team in the NFL has changed out general managers every four or five years. At the same time, they were changing coaches out very frequently, maybe every four years.
My point is that those create separate issues on their own; I’ve tried to eliminate the number of changes in the equation. I don’t know, for instance, of anybody, one time in the NFL, where the owner did not, effectively, hire the coach. Not one that I know of. And so that is one thing that ownership is really coached up on. A lot of time is spent with them on how to approach looking for a new coach and all of those things. Well, my point is, on all these matters, as the owner, then I can effectively do a better job, my job, on a straight line to the coach.
Let’s be really clear: do I have the time, the inclination and the energy to go out and interview and get knowledgeable about who the potential head coaches are? Do I have the potential to have head coaches come to me to get the job? You know, Bill Parcells came to me. He solicited the job of the Dallas Cowboys. And so my point is that if you’re going to be there and you’re going to spend the time doing it, which I am, I’ve never done it any other way. One of the neat things is that when I came to the Cowboys, there was at least a template in place. The Cowboys have had the same general manager for 29 years. He hired one coach in 29 years. Now, we’re all familiar with that, but the Cowboys have only had two general managers in the history of the franchise and one was 29 years and the other’s been 22 years. The first 29 won two Super Bowls and had a record of tremendous, consecutive winning seasons.
But my point is that to a degree and by the way, the owner during that time was very involved in the hire of the one coach, which was coach Tom Landry and Clint Murchison was very involved. So my point is when I bought the Cowboys, I looked to see how the Cowboys were structured and how they had run. I knew I was going to be different because Clint Murchison…it was not his job. So, all of those things come to bear in terms of how we’re structured.
Jimmy Johnson wrote that the reason behind the Cowboys’ struggles is because the players don’t know who is ultimately in charge. They don’t know whether to answer to the GM/owner or the head coach. Do you think this is accurate?
Let me say this: this is pro football. Anybody that doesn’t understand that the person that writes the checks is the ultimate decision maker is living in a dream world.