The hammer has finally come down on Jason Garrett.
The Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones made the move to fire the 10th-year head coach — and all of his assistants — on Monday following the weekend's win over Washington Redskins that closed out the regular season at 8-8.
After a 3-0 start gave way to immense optimism, the franchise fell short of expectations this season with two separate three-game losing streaks after going 10-6 and winning the NFC East last fall.
In the final year of his contract, Garrett's team squandered several opportunities including a winnable Week 17 game at Philadelphia that would've clinched the division and a Playoff berth, but instead reflected glimmers of another disappointing campaign.
On ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter made predictions about the fate of every single coach on the hot seat. Unsurprisingly, Garrett was the first coach they brought up.
“We are projecting him out,” Mortensen said. “They’ve lost five of their last seven games, they could slip back into the playoffs and we could wait on this, but his contract runs out and we project Jason Garrett’s time in Dallas runs out.”
Schefter then notes there are 18 assistant coaches in Dallas on expiring contracts, and if there were a time to make a change, this would be an ideal time. A lot of people wonder who the Cowboys would pursue should they move on form Garrett.
“We’ve heard a lot about college coaches, don’t know how warm he is to that particular idea,” Schefter said. “Some names to keep in mind, though: Urban Meyer, Lincoln Riley...and Dan Campbell.”
Jones, who has been in support of Garrett ad nauseam this fall, changed his tune a bit after several late-game decisions were questioned and the offense continued its spin of inconsistency. Garrett, who has coached the Cowboys since 2010 and never advanced past the second round of the postseason, made several head-scratching decisions in the second half that may have proved the difference in the game.
"It leaves, from my perspective, a lot to consider here," Jones told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. "This was a little bit of a surprise. I didn't see the Chicago Bears game coming (a 31-24 loss in Week 14) and this one was a surprise. I thought we were prepared to play. I thought we could play better out here. I'm disappointed.
"When you get in this spot, you give yourself a chance to be real disappointed. We are. The fact that we didn't get any [touchdowns], the fact the game turned out the way it did — they played well. Not a lot to say about anything else other than it's very disappointing. We all expected to leave here as NFC East champs. We're not. We'll just go to Washington."
NFL analyst and former quarterback Trent Dilfer said earlier this month during an interview on 105.3 The Fan's "Shan and RJ,'' several franchises would be knocking on Garrett's door if Dallas parted ways with him prior to the start of the 2020 season.
Dilfer said Garrett would be "the No. 1 candidate from Day 1" if available and that "He's a hell of a football coach. He's an incredibly good leader ... admired and revered around the NFL."
As for the Cowboys' next move, both Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer have been the rumored big fish in the mix and Jones is fond of both.
Jones addressed the Meyer speculation on Dec. 10 after a hotlist of potential suitors to replace Garrett had surfaced in NFL circles.
“I can confirm that it’s absolutely not correct. We have not met with any coach,” Jones said during a weekly appearance on 105.3 The Fan. “But don’t take that to mean we don’t love some coaches and we’re not interested in them.”
Back in October, Meyer appeared on ‘The Herd With Colin Cowherd’ and discussed the speculation of Riley potentially leaving Oklahoma for Dallas down the road.
“I can’t speak for him [Riley] obviously. I hate to even speculate because I don’t know him and that isn’t fair," Meyer said. "But to me, that’s the one job in professional football where you kind of say ‘You got to go to that’”
When asked about whether he would consider an offer from the Cowboys while he was at Ohio State, Meyer said “Sure, absolutely. That one? Yes.”