Ranking the Top 5 Candidates to Take Jason Garrett's Job

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIOctober 9, 2012

Ranking the Top 5 Candidates to Take Jason Garrett's Job

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    After the downward spiral of the Wade Phillips regime in Dallas, Cowboys fans were ecstatic to see Jason Garrett promoted to head coach but that honeymoon has ended.

    The team is a mere three games above .500 in Garrett's career with zero playoff appearances to show for its efforts. While not all blame can be placed on the head coach for these occurrences, the fact is owner Jerry Jones can't stand to see his team out of the limelight. This may lead to a change at the position.

    Here are the five best candidates to take over as thew new Cowboys head coach if Garrett does get shown the door by Jones. This ranking is based on the respective coaches availability, likelihood they would take the job as well as if Jones would consider hiring them.

No. 5. Jon Gruden

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    Jon Gruden is a loud, accomplished and a passionate head coach, but he's the least likely of this bunch to coach Big D.

    Gruden has been offered jobs on the college level over the past few years, but has consistently turned down the opportunities in order to stay in the Monday Night Football booth with ESPN.

    Some coaches take the broadcasting job just to stay in the spotlight and wait for their next job, like Terry Francona. Others genuinely end up liking the gig, like Steve Mariucci and Gruden.

    There's no doubt Jones would call Gruden if he was moving on from Garrett, but that doesn't mean the former Tampa coach would take the job.

    The allure of being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys would likely tempt Gruden, but he's had tempting offers over recent years and has decided to keep his job with ESPN each time.

No. 4. Rex Ryan

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    Rex Ryan may currently be employed as the head coach of the New York Jets, but considering the team's situation, there's a fair chance he could be on the streets by season's end.

    Like the Cowboys, the Jets cannot stand being out of the playoff picture or not grabbing headlines. Considering there's a good chance they won't be featured in the postseason, the most attention-grabbing non-Tebow related thing this franchise can do would be to can its loudmouth head coach.

    With his brother Rob already serving as Cowboys defensive coordinator, it would make sense that there would be some lobbying within Dallas to at least interview Rex.

    Think about it: Buddy Ryan's two sons on the same staff would ensure chemistry between the two along with the same defensive system and style.

    While that would be an interesting scenario, Jones probably has enough of the Ryan family on staff for his liking. Rob has been known to give bulletin board material in the past and while Jones likes being in the news, he doesn't like being seen as unprofessional.

No. 3. Bill Cowher

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    Back before Garrett officially received his job as the latest Dallas Cowboys head coach, the rumors were swirling that Jones wanted to make a splash and give longtime Steelers coach Bill Cowher the headset.

    There's no denying that the Cowboys owner loves getting the big name players and coaches and Cowher is still the biggest name floating around, despite being out of the game for so long.

    In 2010, The Dallas Morning News writer Jean-Jacques Taylor said, "If Jerry could convince Bill [Parcells] to come here, then he could convince Cowher."

    Which brings up a fair point.

    The notion against Cowher signing with Dallas back then was that he wouldn't want to deal with an overbearing, micromanaging owner like Jones, but even Parcells was able to deal with it for awhile.

    Cowher and Jones could co-exist the same way Parcells and even Jimmy Johnson were able to: on the backbone of success. The Super Bowl champion coach could easily make winners out of the squad assembled with some minor tweaks.

    For all the talk surrounding Jones as an owner, at the end of the day he just wants to see his team win. Cowher could win which means the two could work together.

    Like Gruden, though, Cowher has been off the sidelines and in the television studio for some time now, Jones would have to open the check book and give a few quality speeches to get him to sign.

No. 2. Sean Payton

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    Sean Payton isn't the most well-liked coach in the league right now. The Saints' bounty scandal backlash could leave him jobless if New Orleans decides to value image over production.

    Predicting the New Orleans coaching scenario after this season is almost impossible, but Payton has ties to Dallas. He was a member of Parcells' staff from 2003-2005 and was seen as the heir to the job before the Saints scooped him up in 2006.

    In a recent interview, the Saints coach was asked if he'd ever like to be the shot-caller in Dallas, to which he said, "I’d rather answer a bounty question...Right now my focus is on staying with New Orleans and really getting back on the sidelines."

    That doesn't exactly ring a bell of confidence in the heart of the Cowboys faithful, but those are the words Payton should be saying to the press if he wants to keep his current job.

    If given the option between staying in The Big Easy or going back to his roots, he'd probably stick with his current gig.That said, he might not have the option if the Saints fire him sometime during or after this season.

    If Payton was out on the streets, Jones would undoubtedly chat with him about returning to Big D. Payton lives in North Texas and there's plenty of familiar faces on the team from his days at Valley Ranch. Plus, Jones is one heck of a salesman when he needs to be.

    Out of all the candidates so far, Payton is the likeliest to take the opportunity but only if New Orleans lets him go. If he was still under contract come the midway through the offseason, chances are he'll be sticking with the Saints.

No. 1. Chip Kelly

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    Oregon football head coach Chip Kelly would not be Jones' first choice to take over as Cowboys head coach, but he would be the most open to the idea out of any of these names.

    Over his recent career, Kelly has gone from the offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire to two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year with the Ducks.

    Since Kelly joined Oregon, the team has gone 40-6 and finished first in their conference every season. The Cowboys have had success in the past with the likes of Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer coming from college to the pro level. Both were hired by Jones.

    If the Ducks are able to win another bowl game and finish first again in the Pac-12, the Cowboys owner could easily convince Kelly to interview for Dallas. During that interview, Jones would convince the Oregon coach he's done all he needs to at the college level.

    If Kelly is going to make the jump to the NFL, it's going to be within the next few seasons. There are few job openings as glamorous as being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

    Jones would have no trouble coexisting with Kelly. The offensive-minded coach has all the pieces in place at the quarterback and skill positions to rank among the best in the league.

    He'd almost be walking into the same type of situation as Switzer did with almost all the parts are in place for a championship. They just need to be coached the right way.