Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett’s seat is as hot as it has been in his 10 years coaching the team after a flat 6-7 start despite an enviable collection of talent on his roster.
That trend continued as the Cowboys were completely outmatched in a 31-24 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night. However, one of the team’s most prominent figures isn’t entirely blaming Garrett for the team’s troubles.
Fox commentator and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman thinks that team owner Jerry Jones’ management of the team deserves some scrutiny.
Troy Aikman questions Jerry Jones’ management
I always believe everything starts at the top. And that’s not to say that everything is the fault at the top, but that’s where it begins. We’ve got a head coach who we know for 10 years has been saying, ‘We’re focused on Tuesday. Today. That’s all we’re worried about is having the best practice today that we can possibly have.’ And that’s been his messaging throughout, and the owner’s talking about getting on a run to win the Super Bowl. And they’ve lost three of their last four.
"You’ve got a head coach who comes down and says we’re going to evaluate the kicker, and then the front office says right after that – probably in a press conference right outside the locker room – that they weren’t evaluating the kicker. All those things have an impact, and it slowly trickles down.
"So, I think there are a lot of factors that have played into this – coaching, obviously hasn’t been great at times in certain situations, players haven’t played great, but the front office hasn’t been great in allowing the head coach to do his job, either.”
That note about the team evaluating or not evaluating is referring to Garrett telling the media on Sunday that the team would try out multiple kickers after Brett Maher missed three kicks in the span of two games, and nine of 28 on the season.
Long one of Garrett’s biggest public cheerleaders, Jones’ treatment of the coach has taken a turn in recent years. That continued Tuesday when the billionaire rather cryptically said that Garrett will have an NFL coaching job next year, but declined to say it would definitely be with the Cowboys.
Jones’ history as the Cowboys’ very visible owner/general manager is well-known among many NFL fans, and the source of grumbling for a number of Cowboys fans. When asked if he believes Jones has gotten better at yielding some responsibilities to his front office, Aikman said that, in some ways, he thinks it has become worse.
As he explains it, Jones’ constant presence undermines his executives and coaches:
You look around the league – even really prominent owners that are very visible in our game – they’re not giving the medical reports after games about the team and who’s going to play the next game and who’s not going to play and how severe is the injury? Who played well? Who didn’t play well? Coaches don’t even know, they’ve got to watch the tape. … Those things, I think it undermines a coaching staff and it has an impact.
“As players, you feel that. It starts to take away some of the authority of the head coach. And it’s been going on for 20 years, and at some level there’s players that start feeling that, ‘Oh, OK. This is the guy who’s really calling all the shots.’ … I think there’s some organizations that truly would do everything possible to win, they just don’t really know where to begin. And there’s different ways to do it – and I certainly understand that – but in Dallas, Dallas knows how it was done. I know how it was done. It was done with a really strong head coach who the players knew that that’s who they had to answer to. And for some reason that model changed, and it hasn’t been very effective for a while.”
Clearly, Aikman believes this is a dynamic that is now hurting the Cowboys. Whether or not the top coaching candidates out there also believe that might end up being a factor in case the team is looking for a new head coach this offseason.
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