The winds of change blew through Valley Ranch late Monday afternoon as Dallas Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones gave Wade Phillips his walking papers. And as many suspected, Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was given the interim tag and thus assumes command of the 1-7 laughingstock that has become the Cowboys.
But Cowboy fans, don't count on much, if anything, to change for the 'Boys this season.
Although many fans will criticize the move to name Garrett the interim sideline boss, Jerry Jones made the right decision, albeit a plain one, by naming the redheaded coordinator the interim coach. Promoting from within during a season of mediocrity is business as usual in the NFL.
Promoting from within during the season is a logical choice. The owner—unless he has been taking applications in anticipation of such a move—feels this is the best way for a team to get the needed change, but to also not interrupt the remainder of the staff.
Last season, Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell manned the controls for the remainder of a lackluster season in Buffalo, leading the team to a 3-4 record the rest of the way.
Fewell is now the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants.
In 2008, "The Year of the Interim Coach" saw three X and O specialists find themselves in the unemployment line. Those teams were San Francisco, Oakland and St. Louis.
The understudies who succeeded their departed former bosses were Mike Singletary (SF), Tom Cable (Oak) and Jim Haslett (StL).
Where are they now, you ask?
Singletary was retained as the head man, but is currently mired in his own version of a Charles Dickens novel as the 49ers began with a season of hope but have spiraled into a season of despair.
Tom Cable is currently leading a renaissance of sorts in Oakland as the "Fighting Al Davis" currently lead the AFC "Worst."
Jim Haslett did a tour of duty for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL as a head coach before signing on as the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins for the 2010 season.
Of the three coaches who took over the headset in 2008, their combined record was 11-22 for the remainder of the season. While there are a lot of factors that are involved in such a record—bad teams, a poorly assembled coaching staff, etc.—the thinking is that an interim coach doesn't provide much of a culture change that teams like the 2010 Cowboys so desperately need.
Mike Nolan was a hard-nosed, throwback ball coach. So is Mike Singletary. The results have been very similar.
Lane Kiffin was...I can't really blame Al Davis for that one.
Scott Linehan was a no-nonsense guy. Jim Haslett was more of a player's coach, but the team still didn't respond.
From the small sample size that the 2008 season provides, one could come to the conclusion that players likely establish a pattern of behavior that is consistent with the prior head coach regardless of the change.
A larger sample size further promotes this idea.
Since 2000, there have been 14 in-season coaching changes.
The aggregate record of all 14 interim coaches is 33-68.
Of those 14 substitutes, only two had winning records: Gary Moeller in 2000 (4-3) who took over for Bobby Ross in Detroit and, ironically, Wade Phillips in 2003 (2-1) after taking the reins from Dan Reeves in Atlanta.
Suffice it to say, the odds are not in Jason Garrett's favor.
However, to think that Jerry Jones wouldn't dismiss "Redheaded Jesus" at season's end isn't too far fetched, either.
Jerry Jones has paid Jason Garrett three million dollars a year since 2007 to keep his Princeton prodigy from leaving the fold of Jones Inc. And if sports has taught us anything, it's that money trumps sensibility, especially when you consider that Jerry has coveted Garrett so much that he hired him as an offensive coordinator before hiring Wade Phillips.
With all that to ponder, I propose that the primary reason nothing will change under Garrett is simple: The players have as much respect for him as they did Uncle Wade, if not less.
In the last two weeks there have been reports a rift has developed between the offensive and defensive players in Big D.
How could anyone expect a football revival if there is that type of animosity hovering over the team? Especially when the interim head coach/offensive coordinator could likely be the genesis of such a chasm.
Talk about your catch-22s.
With all the chatter Monday about the euthanizing of Wade Phillips' career in Dallas, there was likely to be a few good one-liners. And there were.
As a local sports anchor said, "Jerry Jones couldn't fire 52 players so he fired Wade Phillips instead."
As the 2010 season slowly closes on the Cowboys, don't be surprised if Jerry does fire 52 players...
...and Jason Garrett.
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