Going 1-7 through the first half of the season is not what either the Dallas Cowboys or their fans had in mind for the 2010 season. It's clearly not what owner Jerry Jones had in mind, either. Jones found a scapegoat on Monday, following a blowout loss to Green Bay, and fired head coach Wade Phillips.
It's not terribly shocking that Phillips was fired midyear. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is the new head coach - on an interim basis for now.
With Garrett coaching, at least, the last half of the 2010 season for Dallas; it's a good time to take a look to see who Jason Garrett is and how he got to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Garrett spent his collegiate career bouncing around a pair of Ivy League schools. He originally attended Princeton University - to match his red hair - where he played college football. He transferred to Columbia University after his father became the head coach at Columbia, but transferred back to Princeton after his father resigned.
Garrett was named the Ivy League player of the year, thanks to his accurate passing.
Garrett was undrafted and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 1989. He stayed through the 1990 season before headed to the World League of American Football and quarterbacked the San Antonio Riders. His stint there lasted only a year before he went north to Canada, playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League.
After his stint in Canada, Garrett would find himself in Dallas as Troy Aikman's backup. He was a member of two of the three Cowboys Super Bowl winning teams. Garrett only appeared in 39 games for Dallas and threw just 11 touchdowns and five interceptions - almost exactly the numbers you'd want to see from a quarterback in nearly a decade of work.
Garrett would bounce around once again after he left Dallas in 1999. He signed with the rival New York Giants as the backup quarterback to Kerry Collins. Garret would sign briefly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before ending his playing career with the Miami Dolphins in 2004.
As a result of his stint in Miami, he was hired as the quarterbacks coach for the Dolphins for the 2005 season - a team coached by Nick Saban, who of course is in Tuscaloosa coaching the Crimson Tide now. Garrett helped coach Gus Frerotte and the Dolphins to a 9-7 record, while Frerotte threw 18 touchdowns for 2996 yards and 13 interceptions for the '05 Dolphins.
While the '05 Dolphins missed the playoffs, they had a respectable 9-7 record. The same can't be said for the '06 Dolphins, where Garrett again served as the quarterbacks coach under Nick Saban. With Joey Harrington starting the majority of the games, the Dolphins went 6-10, finishing in last place of the AFC East. Miami quarterbacks in 2006 regressed from 2005. Harrington, Daunte Culpepper and Cleo Lemon combined to throw 16 touchdowns to 19 interceptions for 3,577 yards and an ugly 71.2 quarterback rating.
Garrett rejoined the Dallas Cowboys family following the 2006 season. Then Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells resigned, leaving a vacancy on the coaching staff for both a head coach and an offensive coordinator since Parcells didn't use an offensive coordinator, instead using running and passing game coordinators. Jerry Jones hired Jason Garrett in early 2007 - either as the head coach or offensive coordinator. Jones was convinced that Garrett was the next, big, young coach in the NFL and made it a point to pry him away from Miami. In the process, Todd Haley, who was the passing game coordinator, left the Cowboys to become the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals.
Garrett, of course, would wind up being the offensive coordinator of the Cowboys and not the head coach.
Garrett's offense in 2007 was excellent, second only to the historic '07 New England Patriots offense in terms of points scored and third in the NFL in yards. Dallas had the best record in the NFC that year, going 13-3, but lost their Divisional Round playoff game against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Giants, 21-17 at home in Texas.
In 2008, Garrett's offense regressed. The Cowboys ranked 18th in points, now in the bottom half of the league, scoring only 362 points - 93 points less than they did in 2007. The Cowboys offense was in the top half of the league in terms of yards, ranking 13th. That season, of course, ended with the thrashing in Philadelphia with a playoff spot on the line.
Dallas' offense improved in 2009, thanks partially to the emergence of Miles Austin. Dallas had the 2nd best offense in terms of yardage but that translated only to 14th in the NFL in points scored. The Cowboys kicking game was largely to blame for this discrepancy, ranking 30th in FG % for the 2009 season.
Dallas has ranked 2nd, 4th and 14th the past three years in passing touchdowns under Garrett.
Garrett will now have more responsibilities as head coach of the 1-7 Cowboys. It's going to be really tough to judge Garrett fairly as coach for the rest of the 2010 season. While Garrett knows the players and chemistry well, they still aren't necessarily his players, nor are they his draft classes. He's inheriting a team that has quit the past few weeks on Wade Phillips.
Getting the players to play hard will be Garrett's primary task. Whether or not he can may determine if he's the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2011.