At the midway point of the 2012 NFL regular season, the Dallas Cowboys are just over two years away from the abrupt dismissal of former head coach and current Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. From that point, Jason Garrett has been on the clock as both head coach and offensive coordinator.
More importantly, Garrett was charged with changing a culture in Dallas that had recently gone way off course and showed no signs of correcting itself with Phillips in charge.
Since that surprising upset win over the New York Giants in Garrett’s first game calling the shots, the Cowboys have taken exactly zero steps forward when it comes to wins and losses. Dallas is exactly 16-16 under Garrett as either interim or permanent head coach.
It’s just not working too well.
It isn’t so much the idea that five-hundred football is as bad as it can get, but rather how and why the wins and losses just cancel each other out. That record over two regular seasons' worth of games is a snapshot of most Cowboys games.
Dallas has talent and this is why Garrett’s future is even a discussion.
Regardless of how loyal you think owner and general manager Jerry Jones is to Garrett, multiple circumstances going beyond the team’s win-loss record are creating a greater and greater likelihood that Dallas might have a new head coach in 2013.
If it’s true, then Jones will find himself in familiar territory having to bring in credibility beyond himself in order to change the team’s fortunes on the field. A prime example of this situation came following the 2002 regular season which saw a third consecutive five and eleven mark for the Cowboys under head coach Dave Campo. All that losing, plus the desire to build a new stadium, is exactly what brought you Bill Parcells.
Now, the Phillips-Garrett-era is wasting precious time maximizing much of the roster that Parcells put in place up until 2006. This is how long it’s been since Dallas has had what Jones refers to as a “walk around head coach." Jones puts Jimmy Johnson in this category as well.
So the question is this: Can Jones sell the idea that the Cowboys are heading in the right direction under Garrett for another year, especially if there’s no post-season this year? Or is it time to bring in an established and proven commodity to handle the task of leading the second most valuable sports franchise in the world?
If the latter trumps the former, here is the top 10 candidates to become the eighth head coach in franchise history.