Jerry Jones was finally backed into a corner. He was reluctant to do it, but in the wake of the worst three-game skid in Cowboys history, he cut the head off the listless, poisonous snake and fired head coach Wade Phillips.
I am not calling Phillips a snake. I am saying that the culture of excuse-making and defensive posturing he cultivated was a poisonous environment. Accountability was missing. Motivation was absent. Direction was nonexistent.
Jason Garrett's offense has not contributed much of value this year, either. One could conclude that his play-calling has been suspect at best, that his in-game adjustments have been either missing or useless. The question still remains: Does he have the stuff to be a successful head coach in this league?
We are all about to find out.
Here are five suggestions for Mr. Garrett as he takes the helm this week, five moves he can make to send a message to his team.
No. 1: Cut Igor Olshansky
I already wrote about this guy in a previous article. His open criticism of Garrett on a Dallas radio station, coupled with his celebration of a few individual plays at the end of an embarrassing shellacking by the New York Giants, is enough to show that he is a cancer to this team. Send him packing and open competition this week to find his replacement.
No. 2: Turn the Offensive Play-Calling Over to Wade Wilson
Jason should work with Wilson to generate a game plan during the week, implement the game plan and then let Wilson execute it on game day.
As head coach, he retains the right to interject his own plays or decisions during the course of a game, but a head coach needs to see the big picture. Wade never wandered over to the offensive side of the ball and often touted his defense's play after a loss. A head coach is not just about a unit; he is responsible for a team.
No. 3: Bench Mike Jenkins, for at Least a Quarter This Sunday
Jenkins has been a penalty-generating machine. He has been burned in coverage again and again, and he played matador on a goal-line play Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers, electing not to stick his head in and try to help stop a runner who was waltzing into the end zone.
Jenkins was a Pro Bowl player a year ago, but he has regressed. Make him earn his way back into the starting lineup. Make him prove he wants the job.
No. 4: Make It Clear That Individual Celebrations of Small Accomplishments Which Don't Really Contribute to Team Success are No Longer Welcome and Will Be Fined
Support that point by benching Marion Barber, whose play is declining and whose fiery celebration of three-yard scampers is just plain ridiculous. Start Tashard Choice: See if he is a part of the future of this team or not.
No. 5: Make Dez Bryant a Focal Point of the Offensive Game Plan
Miles Austin had a miraculous, breakout year last season but has been plagued with dropped balls and the inability to get open on routes this year. Bryant makes some mistakes (see the goofy muffed punt in the fourth quarter last Sunday), but he plays with a fire in his belly—he breaks tackles, and he makes catches even when the coverage is tight.
Now is not the time for band-aids on open wounds. Now is not the time for coddling millionaire players who cannot wait for the final gun to sound so they can cash another of Jerry's checks.
This is the time for the bold to be bold, for leaders to lead. Jason Garrett must prove in the course of the next eight games that he is the kind of take-charge, no-excuses leader this team needs. If he fails, he will not return as the coach of this team.
The ball is in your hands, Jason. Time for a Hail Mary.