BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 01/03/2019

Thiel: Cowboys’ Garrett has some winning to do

Seahawks’ Carroll and Cowboys’ Garrett began their NFL jobs in the same year. Carroll has nine playoff wins, Garrett one. Who needs this game more?

Owner/general manager/potentate Jerry Jones was paying attention to details at Cowboys practice this week in Dallas. / Todd Archer, ESPN

After the final weekend of the season, eight NFL teams had head coaching vacancies. They included guys long in the job (Marvin Lewis, Bengals, 16 seasons; Mike McCarthy, Packers, 13) and a short-timer (Steve Wilks, Cardinals, one).

Also dispatched: The Jets’ Todd Bowles, four seasons; Cleveland’s Hue Jackson, Miami’s Adam Gase, Tampa Bay’s Kirk Koetter, three each, and Denver’s Vance Joseph, two.

The ousters of McCarthy and Lewis advanced Pete Carroll’s nine seasons in Seattle to No. 5 on the list of longest-tenured current coaches. He trails Bill Belichick (19), Sean Payton (12), Mike Tomlin (11) and John Harbaugh (10).

More remarkable is No. 6, Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys, who host the Seahawks at 5:15 p.m. Saturday (FOX) in a wild-card playoff game.

What’s remarkable about it is that since Garrett was hired by owner Jerry Jones Nov. 18, 2010 (11 months after Carroll) as interim head coach, then promoted in 2011 to the permanent job, the Cowboys have won one playoff game.

That’s it. That’s all.

Despite merely mild success coaching America’s Team, one of the most pressurized jobs in American sports, under an owner who is an industrial-strength nuisance, Garrett survives despite having won as many playoff games as former NFL coaches Mike Tice, Jim L. Mora, Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes and Potsy Clark (Giants, 1935).

The guess here is Garrett has no compromising of Jones — if he did, it wouldn’t work because Jones has no shame — but he likely has an urgency about Saturday’s game that surpasses anything coming his way from Seattle.

Both teams are 10-6, but the Seahawks are thrilled with the unexpected success. In Dallas, fans recollect when 10-6 was a mandatory minimum.

The Seahawks, in a similar span under Carroll, have nine wins in 14 postseason games. In the regular season between the clubs since the pair took over in in Seattle and Dallas, Carroll holds a 4-2 lead. In the past three meetings against Seattle, Cowboys have lost all, largely because they have scored 12, 12 and 13 points.

The dominance doesn’t mean Garrett is a stiff — believe it or not, his 32-16 regular-season record in the past three years is the NFC’s best — but it goes a long way to explaining why Kris Richard is Dallas’s defensive backs coach.

If you can’t beat ’em, have ’em join you.

You may recall that Carroll fired his former protege part of a purge following a failure to make the 2017 playoffs. Garrett scooped him up Jan. 22. The Cowboys defense is seventh in the NFL in average yards per game (329.2) and sixth in points allowed per game (20.2). Both are up six places from a year ago. Seattle is 16th (353,3) and 11th (21.7).

Richard was part of the Seahawks staff from 2011-17, twice promoted and given large credit for work with the gentlemen who became the Legion of Boom. His falling out with Carroll was not made clear, but Garrett sounded happy Seattle’s defensive coordinator had become available.

“Kris has done a fantastic job for us,” Garrett said this week in a teleconference with Seattle media. “We felt like, when we hired him, that so much of what he believes in is what we believe in. The DNA of our defense is aligned with the values that Kris has.

“I think it’s helped our entire defense and certainly the back seven of our defense. He’s just a really smart guy. He’s very passionate about football, he’s a fantastic teacher, a great communicator, he’s able to inspire guys and get them to play.”

Richard’s single season with the Cowboys has helped put his name in the large candidate pool to fill the eight vacancies, notably for Miami. For this week, Richard will be a help in diagnosing Russell Wilson’s passing.

Richard’s knowledge didn’t help all that much Sept. 23 in Seattle’s home opener, when the Seahawks beat the Cowboys 24-13. Wilson was 16 of 26 for 192 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. And that was without injured WR Doug Baldwin.

Naturally, Wilson had nothing but props for a former Seattle coach.

“He was always great, in terms of how he coaches, and his discipline,” he said. “I always really enjoyed being around him. I think he’s doing the same thing in Dallas. He coaches up the players really well — you can tell that on their defense.”

If urgency to win is any kind of barometer, Garrett and Richard have an edge. Richard is eager to end his old team’s season, and Garrett’s only playoff pelt came in 2014, when they won a wild-card game at home 24-20 against a mediocre Detroit team.

Given the high casualty rate among NFL coaches, it’s surprising that Garrett has endured so long under the glare of an impetuous boss, sheltered only by a single playoff win. And he has to have begun thinking of Carroll as a nemesis.

If the Seahawks jack up the Cowboys again, Jones might be inspired to create a ninth head coaching vacancy. After all, he once said, “I have never had a problem dealing in areas of ambiguity. I can make a decision and not have it all lined up just right.”

Any questions how the Cowboys have maintained the one-playoff-win-per-decade pace?



  • Kevin Lynch

    A – Carroll is the better coach. B – It’s hard to win post season games. Marvin Lewis was 0-9, I believe. Kansas City’s record is likewise deplorable. The Seahawks have done it by getting games at home where the crowd is a huge factor. No one talks about the Hawks record on the road in the playoffs – three wins, eleven losses all time. Fortune smiled on them in the Minnesota and Washington road wins under Carroll. 35 years ago in Miami they had their one great road win. So Seattle needs this one too. The Rams aren’t going anywhere. Home games post-season will be hard to come by in 2020 and 2021.

    • Diamond Mask

      I believe the 49ers will make a comeback next year as well. The NFC West is going to be rough. Now is the time.

    • art thiel

      Fair point about road playoff wins, although fortune is a part of nearly all outcomes between well-matched teams. Speaking of good fortune, how about the Seahawks drawing an indoor stadium for a January road game? Beats the hell out of GB and the bad luck of drawing an outdoor game in MIN the year they were between indoor stadiums.

  • coug73

    It makes my elbow itch every time I hear Dallas Cowboys America’s team. GRRR, go Hawks!

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      “South America’s Team” works better. Try that one out on your Cowpie fan friends just for funsies.

    • art thiel

      I’m told that rubbing Ivar’s clam chowder on the affected area is a help.

      • coug73

        No, blood, sweat and tears seems to work fine with a thumping of the Cowboys. Go Hawks!

  • 1coolguy

    Bevell and Cable being off’d was understood, but Kris Richard? I never understood that one, as he was always lauded by Carroll and was the LOB’s coach the entire time. So his being let go was a real head scratcher – What insight to his being let go do you have Art?

    • art thiel

      I’ve heard second-hand speculation that Richard’s close relationship with Sherman got in the way.

      • 1coolguy

        Wow – I would hope not, as I would expect Carroll to be above that type of thing. Cutting off the nose to spite the face is not wise.
        He has now created a secondary that is better than when he arrived and one RW must negotiate. I hope it doesn’t bite us.
        Clayton interviewed Garrett on the radio this week and he had nothing but effusive praise for all the things Richard has brought to the Cowboys, including attitude and professionalism.

      • John M

        They didn’t look very close when Sherman went into his rant in Richard’s surprised face. But they are well matched and it should be a tight game . . .

  • tor5

    That photo of Jones on the sideline makes me wonder if having an impetuous owner isn’t part of the reason for the Cowboys’ postseason choke. The Hawks pull off a lot of wins because they’re able to stay positive and believe. Imagine if they had a buzzkill like Jones standing there? Just makes me all that much more grateful for Paul Allen.

    • MarkS

      Ken Behring used to sit on the sidelines. We all remember how well that worked out.

      • art thiel

        Hard for his players to play in hazmat suits atop the uniform.

    • art thiel

      Allen was the anti-Jones, for which all of the 12s should genuflect and say thank you.

  • DonMac

    Generally speaking, whenever a coach is fired after just one season (Steve Wilks) it reflects much more poorly on the organization than the fired coach. The notable exception being Jim Mora’s one year tenure in Seattle only to be replaced by Pete Carroll. How Jason Garrett has lasted this long defies logic other than he must have the goods on Jerry Jones.

    • art thiel

      Well, Tod Leiweke fired Mora before Carroll was close to decamping. The one-and-done error is squarely a management fail.

  • ll9956

    Based on this article, it would appear that if “who wants it the most” is a legitimate criteria for who’s going to win, then Dallas has the edge over the Hawks. Last I checked, the “experts” seem to be divided over who will win. My non-expert opinion is that these teams are pretty evenly matched, which means that the team that makes the fewest mistakes is likely to come out on top. My gut says that to have any hope of coming away with a win, the Hawks have got to bring their A+ game and avoid penalties, at which they succeeded nicely last week.

    • art thiel

      You’re right about fewest mistakes. The teams are evenly matched. Carroll’s worry is the young guys in the secondary will make more communication mistakes that this season have resulted in so many big plays. The price of inexperience.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    I’m thinking of a certain side issue possibility if the Hawks can beat South America’s team.
    Stephen A (Smith) trolls the Cowpies fans worse than any other known human being. He takes positive delight in their misfortunes and is truly unmerciful. Mean, even, but that’s perfectly okay when dealing with Cowdung fans.
    This one is from last Christmas Day’s First Take after the Hawks dumped the Cowflop out of the playoffs:

    I am originally from the miserable state of Tejas, a flat, mostly barren, backward, putrid, polluted, fetid, stinking, nasty, ugly, filthy, overtly racist place (once you get away from a few metropolitan spots) and take special delight just like Stephen A. when the Cowpies lose.

    • Husky73

      I never know what to make of Screamin’ A.

      • Archangelo Spumoni

        Agreed! But after a Dallas episode of “cooged it” he always sticks the knife in and twists it. I really don’t pay attention to Stephen A on other issues.
        SO—if the Hawks can pull this off, he’ll be extra wired Monday morning.

        • art thiel

          Cowboys fans are low-hanging fruit.

      • art thiel

        Good to see him smiling. I thought fake-scowl was his only expression.