Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan survived Black Monday, just as team owner Jerry Jones had suggested they would. That doesn't guarantee either coach is safe and sound just yet, but it appears they'll stay on board to start the 2013 season.
And that's the way it should be.
On one hand, Garrett has coached this team for two and half seasons and hasn't made the playoffs, while Ryan has yet to make the playoffs while serving as a defensive coordinator, anywhere. But on the other hand, the circumstances haven't made things particularly easy on either.
Garrett has been responsible for the offense since 2007, and Dallas has fared favorably on that side of the ball during that stretch. His play-calling has sometimes come under fire, but even if the Cowboys decided that was a problem it wouldn't likely be a fireable offense. In fact, there's talk coming out of Dallas—via NFL.com's Ian Rapoport—that the team could hire a play-calling offensive coordinator to lighten the head coach's load.
With or without help in the coaches box, Garrett deserves one more year to prove that he can get this team to the playoffs. They have the right pieces in place and the chips were stacked against him the last three seasons.
2010: If anything, this "failed" season should give Garrett extra points. He relieved Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start and led the team to five wins in their final eight games. The lack of a playoff appearance was completely on Phillips, not Garrett.
2011: The Cowboys didn't have an offseason thanks to the lockout. And yes, I realize that the same applied to all 32 NFL teams, but the 'Boys underwent a significant transition to Rob Ryan on defense, and Ryan has said he wasn't able to get his D implemented properly in such a short amount of time. Tony Romo had a career year and DeMarco Murray busted out on offense, but that D cost Dallas a playoff berth.
2012: No team in the NFL was hit harder by injuries than Dallas, and the vast majority came on defense. What was Ryan supposed to do with half of his starters on injured reserve? And what was Garrett supposed to do with that D giving up so many yards and points during the second half of the year?
These guys keep pushing well after everyone had written them off. Garrett had them prepared and inspired, even when life and death trumped football after a car accident took the life of Jerry Brown and brought about intoxication manslaughter charges for Josh Brent.
Dallas still fell only one Week 17 win short of the playoffs for the second straight year. Considering the state of this team when Garrett took over, and considering what's happened since, it wouldn't be fair to can Garrett after only two full 8-8 seasons. And considering the injuries and the lack of preparation time, it certainly wouldn't be smart to give up on Ryan this quickly either.
However, there are no excuses left in the bag. Garrett and Ryan should each enter 2013 with their jobs hanging in the balance. A particularly poor start should be enough to force a change or two, and a fourth straight January without playoff football should absolutely coincide with the end of the Garrett/Ryan era in Big D.
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