After a horrible three-game losing streak to the Patriots, Bills, and ultimately the Bears on Thursday Night Football, the Cowboys are looking like an 8-8 team more and more every day. The loss against the Bears has all but guaranteed Jason Garrett will not be coaching in Dallas next season.
Jason Garrett is that bad aftertaste of the medicine that your mom said didn’t taste bad, but you knew deep down it was bad. Garrett has shown his inability to adapt to the ever-growing NFL and its new-school approach to offensive football. Cowboy fans have seen time and time again the same merry-go-round since 2010 with Garrett as head coach, and this is it. Cowboy fans will finally get what they have been calling for: a new face at the helm for this team with so much potential.
But next is Jerry Jones’s biggest question: Who’s next in line for this coaching job?
In the past, the NFL has seen coaches come up from the college ranks and make an immediate impact such as Pete Carroll, Chip Kelly (even though it was short-lived), Kliff Kingsbury, and even back in the late 80s, Jimmy Johnson. The Cowboys need to flip over every rock and pebble to find the best fit in order to take advantage of a team with a young core led by Dak Prescott.
Here are 7 candidates from the collegiate and professional ranks that could replace Jason Garrett.
Lincoln Riley / University of Oklahoma
Riley has been the talk of taking an NFL coaching job for the past few seasons but has simply chosen to stay in the college ranks. In his past 3 seasons, his record is 35-5 and has led Oklahoma to 3 straight final four appearances in the NCAA playoffs.
Over that span, his offenses averaged 45.1 (2017), 48.4 (2018), and 44.3 (2019) points per game behind Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts. He has been great with young quarterbacks and playing to their strengths, helping Mayfield and Murray to Heisman status. Jerry and Stephen Jones have had their eyes on Riley for a while, and this may be his perfect opportunity to jump the ranks.
Urban Meyer / “Retired”
Meyer obviously has a resumé longer than our arms from a coaching standpoint, but his national championships stand out the most. In Florida, he won 2 BCS Championship titles with Tim Tebow, one of the better quarterbacks in college football history. Then his college National Championship game with Ohio State in 2014 when he became the 3rd coach in FBS history to win titles with two different universities.
Stephen Jones has been in contact with Meyer recently, leading to speculation that Meyer is interested as much as the Cowboys are in him. Meyer has a career coaching record of 187-32… yes, that’s 32 losses out of 219 games. After 2019, he retired from Ohio State to spend more time with family but could be coaxed back into coaching with the vacancy.
Urban Meyer anyone?
Tony Elliott / Clemson Offensive Coordinator
Tony Elliott is a name that needs to be learned fast. Since he took over as the play-caller in 2014, the Clemson Tigers are 56-4 and 2-1 in the National Championship games…. against Alabama. His offense averaged 39.6 points in those games against Alabama teams that had top defensive talent.
Elliott was awarded the 2018 Frank Broyles award for the nation’s top assistant coach. He had the luxury of working with Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence in that time, but not all credit is for the young players. Elliott is a name the Cowboys should and will call about this offseason.
Chris Peterson / Former coach at Washinton University
Peterson recently stepped down as head coach of the Huskies, citing stress and anxiety as factors that helped his decision. Maybe the head coach needed a break to recharge, but he has ties to Kellen Moore from Moore’s playing days at Boise State. From 2006-2019, Peterson has a 146-38 record, going 6-6 in bowl games at Boise State and Washington.
Peterson may not be a serious candidate, but there has been speculation since he coached Kellen Moore at Boise State and he could have interest in a reunion. Under Peterson, Kellen Moore set the record by a starting quarterback in NCAA Division I FBS with a 50-3 record.
Matt Rhule / Baylor University
Matt Rhule has been the talk of the town at Baylor ever since he turned around what looked like a lost program after the Art Briles debacle. He was just named Big 12 Coach of the Year and took his team to the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma and another possible coaching candidate, Lincoln Riley.
In his first 2 seasons with Baylor, he went a combined 8-17, but this season has been different. His offense is averaging 36.2 points per game and just 18.4 points against this year. The one obstacle standing in the way of a Rhule/Cowboys connection will be the fact that Rhule will likely want to bring along his own coaches, which is understandable. And with so many coaches on the bubble, it could be possible Jerry and Stephen cave to such demands or requests by the coach.
The only question remaining with that is this: Can Jerry let the coach be a coach and run the team his way? Only time will tell.
Ron Rivera / Former Carolina Panthers
Rivera was let go of his previous gig in Carolina that saw him take the Panthers to their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. A defensive-minded coach, Rivera is a hard nose coach that demands a lot out of the team.
In his tenure in Carolina, Rivera held a record of 76-63-1 with a Super Bowl appearance. Since 2011, his defense finished in the top 10 in yards allowed five times, and five times in rushing offense as well with Cam Newton being his quarterback for the majority of his tenure in Carolina.
Rivera would help this defense that has struggled to stop the run this season all season, and with the team in place, it could be the perfect storm.
Robert Saleh / 49ers Defensive Coordinator
Robert Saleh has been an unknown name across the NFL as he leads the 49ers vaunted defense in a 10-2 season so far. In his 15th season coaching in the NFL, Saleh has the 49ers in the top of the rankings in defenses this season.
The 49ers are first in yards per game, second in points allowed per game, and first in yards per play at 4.3. Saleh will get plenty of interest from around the league, and with the talent, this defense has, the Jones family may see it as an opportunity to replace Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard with a new mind that can get the most out of this defense that has disappointed ownership.
One thing is for sure, however. Jason Garrett will not be coaching in Dallas next season. With so much controversy surrounding the team, the hunt is on for the next head coach for the Dallas Cowboys.