Dallas Cowboys: Is Jeff Fisher’s Freedom Jason Garrett’s Leash?
By Freddy Blair
Barely into his first stint as the Cowboys head coach, Jason Garrett could be on a short leash if Jerry Jones were to hire Jeff Fisher in the Cowboys front office.
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Jason Garrett had always wanted to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
When the Cowboys struggles of 2010 reached a pinnacle that forced Jerry Jones to make a move, firing head coach Wade Phillips and appointing Jason Garrett as interim head coach, that dream became reality.
But the question remains as to whether Garrett would have been named as the permanent head coach of the Cowboys had Jeff Fisher been fired right after the Titans last game of the 2010 season, as had been expected.
Jones had spoken publicly at times addressing the fact that having a head coach with head coaching experience was his preference, pointing out that Jason Garrett had a total of eight games of head coaching experience in his entire career.
It was widely believed that Jerry’s first choice would have been Jeff Fisher, and even rumored that the Cowboys had sent “feelers” to Nashville to gauge the intentions of Fisher and the Titans regarding how they intended to proceed.
With the owners and players in dispute over the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) between them and the looming NFL lockout, Jerry Jones knew that having a head coach in place as soon as possible would be critical for the 2011 season if the Cowboys hoped to have any kind of success. This alone made Jason Garrett the obvious choice for the job if Jones couldn’t land a head coach of Fisher’s caliber.
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When Bud Adams announced that Fisher would be retained for the 2011 season, Jason Garrett then became the obvious choice for the job. With several NFL teams considering coaching changes at the end of 2010, calls requesting permission to interview Jason Garrett put Jerry Jones behind the eight ball and forced him to go ahead and name Garrett as head coach.
Now that Fisher has left the Titans organization, it may be the most prudent path for Jerry Jones to bring him aboard in an administrative capacity, waiting in the wings should Garrett struggle.
Despite having a 5-3 record as an interim head coach, Garrett did struggle after a 3-1 start—finishing 2-2 in the last four games of 2010, including an embarrassing loss on Christmas day to the Arizona Cardinals.
That loss has to be lingering in Jones’ mind and wondering what 2011 could bring if the same type of play were to continue. Another season would be lost, and another year of Tony Romo’s prime years as the franchise quarterback of the Cowboys would be wasted. Worse even than that, the prospects for 2012 would begin to look pretty bad.
The Dallas Cowboys desperately need a leader on the sidelines. They don’t need a man who will ask for greatness, but one that demands it and accepts nothing less. Jeff Fisher is one of the most respected head coaches in the NFL and the kind of leader who could build a dynasty in Dallas.
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With Fisher becoming available, his hiring would ensure having capable leadership on hand in the event that it becomes clear that Jason Garrett is in over his head as the head coach of the Cowboys. Should the 2011 season find the Cowboys embedded in mediocrity, Fisher would be ready to step in either during or at the end.
And there are more perks to this proposal than just for the Cowboys. Jeff Fisher was noticeably drained at the end of the 2010 season. His demeanor was that of a man filled with disgust and frustration, and the look in his eyes was one of a man who was ready to go.
By hiring Fisher in an administrative position with the Cowboys, it would allow him a year to recharge his batteries while becoming accustomed to the daily grind around Valley Ranch, as well as giving him a year to become more familiar with the Cowboys players and staff.
It’s a win/win for Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys and Jeff Fisher. This is the opportunity for Jerry Jones to ensure the one thing that the Cowboys have been missing since the departure of Jimmy Johnson—strong, capable leadership at the coaching position.
This is what I would call a “no-brainer.”
And that’s the bottom line.