I first read this question over a week ago at Star-Telegram.com, and I found it somewhat surprising.
In this particular piece, longtime Dallas/Fort Worth veteran journalist Randy Galloway presents a fairly realistic case that in the event current head coach Jason Garrett loses his job this year or next, former Green Bay and Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren could become the ninth head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
You wouldn’t think this based on how the Cowboys repeatedly whipped Holmgren and his Packers during the championship runs of the 1990’s. But apparently, there is a mutual respect between Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones and Holmgren.
Where this theory begins to get its legs is in the fact that earlier this month, Holmgren was informed that he would no longer be president of the Cleveland Browns. Holmgren had been hired in 2010 to redirect an expansion team with a classic label that was still struggling to find relevance in its 12th season following resurrection in 1999.
Yes, the Baltimore Ravens are the original Browns franchise, and it must be really hard being a Cleveland sports fan, you know?
When even Holmgren can show up following Super Bowl trips and/or victories in his two prior stops before Ohio and still nothing good happens, something has to be up.
Yes, the Browns have been sold again and I pity the fool who took that hot potato, but what this means is that following this season, if not prior, Holmgren is a free man.
Now, at the age of 64, it would be fair to suggest, or at least suspect, that maybe Holmgren wants to hang up the headset for good and actually retire. This is always a possibility, but when you’re about to be as hot as Holmgren is, it could be hard to say no to another opportunity.
But according to ESPN blogger Jamison Hensley, Holmgren probably won’t take too much convincing to return to coaching after all.
Yes, Holmgren has time for another coaching stop.
But the question is going to be where.
The tricky part is whether or not the Cowboys will have a vacancy during the brief time Holmgren is available. This is likely to be just the coming offseason, so I would think the answer is no.
So the final question pertains to how long current head coach Jason Garrett can keep his seat occupied.
The way it looks right now, Garrett isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I think that Dallas could go winless the rest of this season and Garrett would probably still stick around for another year. But I’m just guessing based on the way results and experience don’t seem to have any bearing on what happens with the Cowboys under Garrett’s limited and naïve stewardship.
But there are a couple of things that might change what seems obvious over the next few weeks as Dallas drizzles towards mediocrity to close out 2012, some things that didn’t apply when Jones last had to hire a head coach in 2007. And no, the 2010 coronation of Garrett was a mere formality, as he was actually hired as the head coach before previous head coaching figurehead Wade Phillips in 2007.
Jones had already made up his mind when hiring first-time offensive coordinator Garrett before Phillips that the former would be the future long-term head coach in Dallas. Problem is that nobody knew anything about Garrett in a higher-profile role than what his highly limited experience had illustrated prior.
So, Jones gambled, as he likes to do when the odds are to his liking, and he really bit the big one here. You think the Roy Williams (wide receiver) or Joey Galloway trades were bad? This Garrett thing has been the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen the Cowboys go through since that 44-0 loss to the Chicago Bears in 1985.
But remember that when Jones hired Garrett, he had already secured funding, and construction was already underway on Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In other words, Jones had the leverage to bring on whomever he wanted, and probably at a bargain since Jerry’s Palace wasn’t exactly cheap.
The 2003 hiring of Bill Parcells was probably the most exciting time for the Dallas fanbase since the signing of free-agent cornerback Deion Sanders in 1995. Parcells represented a change in culture for a team coming off three consecutive 5-11 seasons from 2000-02, respectively. Parcells also helped get interest in the new stadium to an all-time high, and the rest is history.
And the Cowboys really haven’t had a head coach since then.
But if we look closely at where things are at now, it’s somewhat similar to when Parcells was hired. While the Cowboys are a better team with more talent than those post-Troy Aikman teams of a decade ago, the common thread here is a lack of fan satisfaction and success.
Cowboys Stadium has been open now for almost three-and-a-half years and is currently hosting its fourth season of Dallas Cowboys football. But since that first playoff victory in the new building following the inaugural season of 2009, it’s been a bad deal in Dallas.
You know the recent history well enough, and there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that things change this year. Garrett still doesn’t run the ball, Romo still throws pics as a result and Dallas doesn’t participate in the postseason—it’s that simple, really.
Well, next up is dropping attendance at Cowboys Stadium, and this could happen sooner than later. You think the place fills up for Holmgren and his Browns on November 18 if the Cowboys lose to both Atlanta and Philadelphia on the road the next two weeks, thus bringing a three-game losing streak into that game less than a week before Thanksgiving?
I’m not so sure about that.
Can you imagine the first blackout of a Dallas Cowboys telecast in over 20 years in Dallas/Fort Worth?
Jones has a real credibility problem that he hasn’t had before—at least not like this.
The stadium is built and money has to come in. That doesn’t happen very well when teams lose and their fanbase stops showing up to buy over-priced hot dogs and beer.
Dallas fans, by and large, believe that Jones’ ego is greater to him than the Cowboys' performance on the football field, and for the most part, they are right. Whatever perception you have of this 70-year-old billionaire, know that at the end of the day, he really does want Dallas to win football games. The problem is that he wants too much credit for this accomplishment. The Jimmy Johnson story in Dallas is clear proof of that.
Garrett has never been and never will be the answer as a head coach. The poor guy just doesn’t get it.
So, Jones will have to go to the coaching well once again and Holmgren would be about the best candidate I can think of. Only Bill Cowher would be a as good a fit based on his NFL resume.
When a fanbase goes through the frustration and lack of confidence that Dallas fans suffer from right now, the only thing you can do is give them is hope. A brighter future is the only thing that can erase a sour memory, and memories of several recent Cowboys games are quite sour.
Just as Parcells washed away those previous 5-11 seasons under Dave Campo with credibility and a trip to the playoffs in 2003, Holmgren could and would do the same for the largest NFL fanbase on the globe.
Yes, it is doubtful that this scenario happens, especially after only one more year of agony and embarrassment for Dallas fans. Surely, there’s a few more in store, right?
But something like it will have to happen if the dollars are going to keep flowing and fan interest isn’t going to just plummet, possibly this season.
It is one thing to lose three straight NFC championship games like Dallas did in the early 1980’s. The Cowboys were still a contender and were still winning a lot of football games.
And it is another thing when you go 1-15 like Dallas did in 1989 when they just ran out of youth and talent.
But this regime has no excuses I’m aware of, seeing as how the losing is generated from mistakes, poor philosophy and a lack of qualified personnel, across the board. The defensive coaching staff probably doesn't apply here, but from the offensive coaching staff through the front office, it's pretty salty.
These Cowboys are not a rebuilding story or a fading dynasty.
These Cowboys are just underachievers that waste countless opportunities for success.
Well, Dallas fans are eager and waiting for a breath of fresh air and a return to glory, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that.