Jason Garrett was recently dubbed the NFL’s 2016 Coach of the Year, capping off a storybook season that defied all expectations and showed just how worthy Garrett was of such a prestigious award.
Garrett began his coaching career under the illustrious Nick Saban as a quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2005. In early 2007, Garrett joined the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff as the offensive coordinator. During the 2007 season, Garrett’s ingenuity yielded a Cowboys offense that helped amass a 13-3 record and that ranked 3rd in the league in total offense.
The Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons immediately took interest in Garrett and offered him the position of head coach. However, remaining loyal to the Cowboys, Garrett respectfully declined and returned to the Cowboys as offensive coordinator.
The Cowboys dropped to 13th in total offense during the 2008 regular season, a drop which understandably prompted Garrett to take more interest in the open head coaching positions around the league. Garrett ended up fielding interviews from the Detroit Lions, the Denver Broncos, and the St. Louis Rams. The Rams tabbed Garrett as a finalist for the opening, but the front office decided to roll with Steve Spagnuolo instead.
Fast forward to the 2010 season when Jerry Jones parted ways with head coach Wade Phillips. To no surprise, Jerry Jones named Garrett interim head coach and, after beating a superior New York Giants squad on the road during his first game as head coach and leading the Cowboys to a 5-3 record in the latter half of the season, Garrett officially and rightfully earned the head coaching position of America’s Team.
The next three seasons made fans and critics alike question whether or not Garrett was fit for the role. The Cowboys finished each of these three seasons with a measly 8-8 record. To make matters worse, the Cowboys were downed by the Giants in 2011, the Washington Redskins in 2012, and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013—all in the final week of the season. In other words, the three division rivals denied the Cowboys a playoff bid in week 17 in three consecutive seasons.
The word was out—Garrett was officially on the hot seat entering the 2014 season. Nonetheless, tensions receded after a 2014 season where the Cowboys recorded a 12-win season and came painfully close to topping the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, only to flare up again after entering the 2015 season with all the hype but leaving that same season with a 4-12 record.
Now, Garrett was not to be blamed after the well-known misfortunes in 2015, but he was to be blamed for only taking the Cowboys to the playoffs once during his first five years at head coach.
The hot seat reappeared once more, a seat that was certainly ready to eject Garrett when the hopes for the 2016 season came crashing down after Romo injured his back during a meaningless preseason game.
Nevertheless, while fans prepared themselves for yet another dismal season, Garrett tackled this new obstacle with the same composure that fans have grown so privy to over the years. The calm assurances from Garrett transpired to a promising 13-win season and, of course, the Coach of the Year award.
Sure, if it was not for the unlikely emergence of rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Garrett would most likely still be casted off as a run-of-the-mill head coach. Regardless, Garrett transcended his role of coach and challenged his team to get behind these two rookies, however young and inexperienced they might be. Garrett accepted the hand he was dealt and knew exactly what to do with it, a valuable quality of your 2016 Coach of the Year.
Photo: Kelsey Charles (5 Points Blue)