With Sunday's win in Seattle, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has now been in charge for the equivalent of a full season. His overall record: 9-7. Not bad! Not great, but not putrid. In the Double J Era, here is where his first 16 games stack up against his predecessors:
Wade Phillips: 13-3
Bill Parcells: 10-6
Dave Campo: 5-11
Chan Gailey: 10-6
Barry Switzer: 12-4
Jimmy Johnson: 1-15
The variation of records you see above serves as proof of just how unreliable the first 16 games when it comes to judging a new head coach. Switzer and Phillips were both dealt a favorable hand in terms of personnel. Jimmy Johnson was building the organization from scratch. Garrett was handed something of a mixed project: charged with rebuilding certain parts of a team that still possesses a handful of quality players. In some ways, Garrett's task is the most difficult one to pull off. He couldn't clean house entirely, but he doesn't have the roster depth to build a Super Bowl champion right this instant (the issue of what to do about Tony Romo remains out there like a gas leak). The result has been a markedly inconsistent performance over the first 16 games. The Cowboys can veer from excellent to incompetent within the course of a single possession.
As head coach, you can pin a lot of this inconsistency on Garrett. The play-calling is still weak, to be certain. But Garrett has shown competence in a lot of other areas: developing offensive talent, clock management, overall team professionalism, etc. And so much of the Cowboys' problems are the fault of Garrett's boss. Jerry Jones built this roster, and Jerry Jones is the one constantly undermining Garrett's authority when he speaks to the media. Garrett has shown over the past 16 games that he's a decent head coach, but he deserves the chance to build the team his way, with a competent GM in charge. The way it stands now, no coach will be able to fix the Cowboys if Jerry makes them do it with one hand tied behind their back. Garrett has shown promise in his first full season, but I doubt Jerry will let him make good on it.