Jones’ hands on every coach departure
By Richard Durrett
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has overseen the firing of every coach in franchise history.
From a memorable meal at a Dallas Mexican restaurant to the departure of a coach immediately after consecutive Super Bowl wins to the exit of Wade Phillips on Monday, Jones has been in charge for all of them.
Here’s a look back at how each Cowboys coach left Dallas under Jones’ watch:
Tom Landry (1960-88)
250-162-6 in 29 seasons, won two Super Bowls
Two days after purchasing the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones traveled to Tom Landry’s vacation home near Austin and fired the only coach the organization had ever known. After 29 seasons, 250 wins and two Super Bowl titles, Landry was out.
Jones immediately named Jimmy Johnson, the coach at the University of Miami and Jones’ former teammate at Arkansas, as the replacement. Later that day, then-general manager Tex Schramm informed the media of the decision and was emotional about it.
“It’s very, very sad,” Schramm said. “It’s tough when you break a relationship you’ve had for 29 years. That’s an awful long time.”
Landry was 3-13 in 1988 and was under .500 in his final three seasons as the head coach. The team hadn’t won a playoff game since 1982.
Jones wasn’t too secretive about his plan to switch coaches. ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel, then with the Dallas Morning News, spotted the owner and Johnson at Mia’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Dallas, the night before the coaching change was made. The newspaper got a photo, which appeared on the front page the next day.
Jimmy Johnson (1989-93)
44-36-0 in five seasons, won two Super Bowls
After two consecutive Super Bowl titles, Johnson and Jones agreed to part ways, unable to resolve their differences to forge a working relationship that either could live with for another season.
At a surreal news conference, the men said goodbye. It was officially a resignation by Johnson. The final five years of Johnson’s contract were ripped up, and he received a $2 million parting gift. Jones then hired former University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.
According to published reports, the friction between Johnson and Jones was building for a while before the eventual end. Johnson apparently told the story that Jones wanted him to look in the owner’s direction when the draft cameras were on during ESPN’s coverage so that it would appear as though Jones was involved in the pick. Jones said shortly after Johnson’s departure that he didn’t remember making that remark.
Near the end of the 1993 season, which ended in a second Super Bowl victory for Jones and Johnson, the coach said he might consider coaching the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones was mad enough that he told the media that only he would decide Johnson’s coaching future. According to a Sports Illustrated story, Johnson told Jones on the charter flight home from a victory over the Giants that clinched the NFC East: “By the way, I’m the one who’s going to decide how long I coach here.”
And that ended up being a lot shorter than most fans expected.
Barry Switzer (1994-97)
40-24-0 in four seasons, won one Super Bowl
Taking the reins of a team that had been to back-to-back Super Bowls, Switzer led the Cowboys back to the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco, but they fell 38-28.
But the next season, Dallas was back on top, winning Super Bowl XXX against Pittsburgh. Switzer, though, couldn’t keep the good times rolling after that. Dallas fell in the divisional playoff game against Carolina, 26-17, and Switzer was gone a year later when the club finished 6-10 and last in the NFC East.
In all the turmoil that led to Switzer’s hiring, reports surfaced that Jones had said that any one of 500 coaches could win a Super Bowl with the Cowboys. Switzer proved his point, although Jones said he didn’t make the statement sober, saying it was “just the whiskey talking.”
But after the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1990, Switzer was out.
One of his most memorable moments was a decision to go for it on fourth-and-inches from the Cowboys’ 29 late in a tie game with the Eagles. Emmitt Smith was stopped — twice, actually, as the first time was whistled dead because the two-minute warning had been reached — and Switzer was vilified by fans and the media.
Of course, they went on to win the Super Bowl, where Switzer declared to the owner: “We did it our way, baby.”
Chan Gailey (1998-99)
18-14, lost in wild-card game both seasons
Jones interviewed former UCLA coach Terry Donahue, former San Francisco coach George Seifert and then-Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis. Then he interviewed Gailey, the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
But after talking with Gailey at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and later back in Dallas, Jones made the offer.
Gailey was 10-6 in his first season, and the Cowboys won the NFC East. But they fell at home to Arizona, 20-7, in the wild-card game. In 1999, Dallas squeezed into the playoffs at 8-8 after beating the Giants in the final regular-season game.
The Cowboys fell 27-10 at Minnesota in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Gailey was the first Cowboys coach not to win a Super Bowl, and his tenure remains the shortest of any Cowboys coach. Jones said it would take too long to get everyone on the same page. But the bottom line: Gailey didn’t win playoff games.
Jones said recently that he regrets firing Gailey, who was hired before the 2010 season to coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Dave Campo (2000-02)
15-33 in three seasons
Maybe the start to the Campo head-coaching era was a sign it wasn’t going to work out. In the 2000 season opener, Troy Aikman suffered a concussion and Joey Galloway, a big acquisition in the offseason at wide receiver, was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Aikman was released after that 2000 season, and Campo ended up dealing with seven starting quarterbacks in his tenure.
He was the first Cowboys coach to miss the playoffs, not win a division title or not have a winning season. Campo joined the Dallas staff in 1989 with Jimmy Johnson as an assistant secondary coach. He became the secondary coach the next season and later was promoted to defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach. He has since rejoined the Cowboys’ staff as secondary coach.
Jones made the decision to fire Campo in an effort to get the Cowboys back into the playoff hunt.
Bill Parcells (2003-06)
34-30 in four seasons, lost two wild card games
For the first time since becoming owner of the Cowboys, Jones hired someone with head-coaching experience in the NFL.
Parcells was introduced as Cowboys coach in early January 2003, saying his job was to resurrect one of the league’s marquee franchises. Parcells signed a contract that granted him the ability to have a lot of control over personnel matters, including his coaching staff.
Parcells named Quincy Carter the starting quarterback just before his first season on the job, and Carter helped lead the team to a surprising 10-6 record and a trip to the playoffs. Dallas lost, 29-10, at Carolina in the wild-card game.
Of course, Carter’s tenure as quarterback was cut short by drug issues and veteran Vinny Testaverde was elevated to the top of the depth chart in 2004. The Cowboys were 6-10 after losing seven of their first 10 games. They improved to 9-7 with Drew Bledsoe at quarterback in 2005, but missed the playoffs.
Parcells made the decision at halftime of a 36-22 loss to the Giants to place Tony Romo at quarterback. Romo ended up starting the remaining 10 regular-season games in leading the team to a 9-7 record and a playoff berth. The Cowboys lost to the Seahawks, 21-20, after Romo couldn’t get the hold down on a field goal attempt late in the game. Dallas lost four of its final five games in 2006, dropping out of the NFC East lead it held in December.
Parcells decided 15 days after the tough playoff loss that he was ready to call it quits.
Wade Phillips (2007-10)
35-23 in three-plus seasons, 1-2 in playoff games
There was chatter on the radio talk shows and on the blogs about Bill Cowher, Bob Stoops, Charlie Weis or even Pete Carroll taking over for Parcells. But in the end, Jones went with a former head coach and a guy who is used to coaching 3-4 defenses to be the on-field leader of the team.
Wade Phillips, let go by the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, was the seventh coach in team history. He was tied with Tom Landry for the second-best winning percentage behind Barry Switzer.
|* Landry also had six ties.|
Jones was emotional as he introduced Phillips, who coached Buffalo and Denver for five combined seasons and was the defensive coordinator in San Diego at the time of his promotion to Cowboys coach. It appeared Norv Turner was poised to take over the job at the time, but Jones chose Phillips and his defensive pedigree instead.
Even before Phillips was hired, he didn’t have a say in his coaching staff. Jones hired Jason Garrett for an unspecified role before Phillips was named coach. Garrett became the offensive coordinator.
Phillips was 13-3 in his first season as the Cowboys won the NFC East and earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Giants came into Texas Stadium and beat the favored Cowboys, 21-17. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. Dallas was 9-7 in 2008, missing the playoffs thanks to consecutive losses to end the season. The Cowboys were belted, 44-6, in Philadelphia to end the season. A victory would have put them in the playoffs.
Phillips, though, managed a three-game winning streak to end the 2009 season, leading the NFC East champs into the playoffs. They crushed the Eagles, 34-14, for the franchise’s first playoff victory since 1996, but fell 34-3 in Minnesota in the NFC divisional game.
This season, Jones had expectations that his team could become the first to host a Super Bowl. But a 1-7 start has ended all of that talk. The Cowboys put up a disappointing effort in a 45-7 loss to Green Bay on national television this past Sunday, and Jones decided to fire Phillips. It’s the first time Jones has fired a head coach in the middle of a season.