There’s always been something different about Jerry Jones when it comes to Jason Garrett.
The Dallas Cowboys owner has had an unusual dose of patience with his head coach. In fact, some people think he’s been overly patient with Garrett. While Garrett has always seemingly been on the hot seat (at least from the outside perspective), Jones’ reluctance to part with him may be finally paying off.
Garrett is quietly doing a terrific job. He has beautifully maneuvered through suspensions, typical Dallas distractions and major injuries, leading Dallas to a surprising 4-1 record.
And he’s been gifted with two special rookies in Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.
Garrett, who has one winning season in Dallas, is 45-43 since he took over as the interim head coach after Jones fired Wade Phillips after just three-plus seasons as head coach. Phillips had a 13-win and an 11-win season in two of his three full seasons in charge. Still, Phillips had no equity after a slow start in 2010 and was fired.
That’s been Jones’ way. He is kind of the poor man’s Al Davis when it comes to hiring and firing head coaches.
After sending Tom Landry into retirement upon his purchase of the Cowboys in 1989, Jones could only handle Jimmy Johnson for five seasons, even though two of those seasons ended with Super Bowl trophies. Then came Barry Switzer. He lasted four seasons with one Super Bowl ring.
Next up was Chan Gailey. He lasted two seasons after making the playoffs both seasons, but the Cowboys failed to win a playoff game.
Then came Dave Campo. He won 15 games in three seasons and was justifiably shown the door.
Big, bad Bill Parcells was next. He had winning seasons in three of his four seasons in Dallas, but he never won a playoff game there. Parcells’ departure paved the way for Phillips, who again, did well but couldn’t survive long in Jerry’s world.
After the rash of hiring and firings, Dallas appeared to be a place coaches wanted to avoid. Even success wasn’t enough. Perhaps that’s why Jones promoted Garrett after he was the interim coach; maybe no one really wanted the job.
Garrett has long been Jones favorite. He was a backup quarterback in Dallas for eight years before becoming an assistant coach in Dallas in 2007. He is in his 10th straight season as a coach in Dallas.
That is unheard of in Dallas. And there is a chance it will last much, much longer.
That is where Elliott and Prescott come in. They are Garrett’s lifelines. And not just beyond this year. These two have a chance to be special for a long time.
People scoffed at the Cowboys for drafting Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick. Many league observers thought the Cowboys needed to take Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey with the No. 4 pick. It was clear (and still is) that the Cowboys entered 2016 with more needs on defense than on offense.
But the Cowboys thought their window to win a Super Bowl was now, with quarterback Tony Romo being 36. The Cowboys had Super Bowl designs last season, but serious injuries to Romo and star receiver Dez Bryant dropped them to 4-12. Garrett was probably saved by those injuries.
Of course, this year he is being saved by another Romo injury. Prescott was picked in the fourth quarter as a potential replacement for Romo when he retired. In the back of his mind, Garrett probably had to wonder if he’d ever be around to see Prescott take over. Yet, another Romo injury, this time a back injury in the preseason, pushed Prescott to the field much earlier than anyone had expected.
Prescott has been much better than anyone could expect, as well. He has completely looked the part of a classic NFL quarterback. He has not thrown an interception in 155 passes attempts and he is a big reason why the Cowboys are 4-1. Garrett deserves plenty of credit for making the transition easier for Prescott and Elliott.
There is no doubt that Elliott and Prescott are going to get better and that they are going to be cornerstone pieces of the franchise. The Cowboys are going to win a lot of games with these two.
Jones has given Garrett a lot of rope without winning much to this point. Why would he change now when it looks like Garrett is going to win for the long haul with his two young stars in the backfield?
Jones’ patience over the years has gotten Garrett to this point. Elliott and Prescott will probably keep him in Dallas for the foreseeable future.