There may be no bigger pressure cooker in the National Football League than the title of head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
After the team missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season in 2012-13 that pressure appeared to be mounting on head man Jason Garrett.
Team owner (and head busybody) Jerry Jones tried his best to downplay that pressure recently, but in lieu of some of the recent moves Jones has made, those words rang hollow.
In a six-minute video posted on the Cowboys' team website Thursday, Jones defended his head coach for the past two-plus seasons, stating that “I saw things in our head coach that really give me a lot of promise for not only 2013 but for years to come. I’m excited about Jason Garrett.”
That sounds a lot like Jones' comments from last October, when he told KRLD-FM via The Dallas Morning News that he had a great deal of confidence in Garrett's abilities both as a head coach and play-caller.
“I like the coach being one of the coordinators, preferably the offensive coordinator. But of course in Wade Phillips’ case, he was the defensive coordinator. When you do that, you’re going to get in down times, loss times, you’re going to get people to say, ‘They do too much. They’ve just got too much on their plate.’ You have to look at that. Jason has huge capacity to cover a lot of ground, so if anybody can do it, or look to the future, he can.”
Jones' actions since October, however, tell a different story.
Dallas made sweeping changes to the coaching staff recently, and when the 2013-14 season kicks off the team will have a new defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and new position coaches in charge of the offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and defensive line.
The biggest change will be on offense, where Bill Callahan will go from offensive coordinator in name only to the man calling the plays for the Cowboys, a move that beat writer Clarence Hill summed up in one hashtag last month.
Jerry jones confirms that jason Garrett has willingly been stripped of play calling duties.#uncomfortable— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) January 22, 2013
Mind you, this is the same Callahan that did such a bang-up job calling plays for the Oakland Raiders that he didn't even bother to change the terminology used by the previous head coach.
That bit of brilliance was a big part of the reason why the Raiders were throttled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
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Handing that guy the reins for the offense somehow shows confidence in Garrett? On what planet?
Granted, Garrett hasn't done much to inspire confidence in his two years in charge in Dallas. In over 40 games, Garrett has a mediocre 21-19 record, and his Cowboys have yet to make a trip to the postseason.
A .525 winning percentage may be good enough to keep your job in Jacksonville or Cleveland, but this is Dallas. The Cowboys aren't just expected to go to the playoffs every year, they're expected to be in the Super Bowl every year.
In fact, the one thing that's saved Garrett to this point is probably the fact that he's apparently comfortable having all the autonomy of a Muppet, with Jones playing the part of Jim Henson.
Garrett showed that once again when the Callahan move was announced, telling The Morning News at the Senior Bowl that, “It’s never been hell or high water that I have to call the plays.”
Jones' lips barely moved when Garrett said it.
At the end of the day it's Jones' incessant meddling that's the real problem. As attractive a destination as the Cowboys once were for coaches, do you really think a big-name coach is going to want any part of Jones' circus after watching what happened to Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells?
So, rather than the perennial contender that Jones clamors for, instead fans of the Cowboys are stuck with a .500 ballclub led by a red-headed Muppet on the thinnest of thin ice.
But don't worry, because Jones is excited.