Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett reportedly isn’t in danger of losing his job during the regular season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, but both Stephen and Jerry Jones are intrigued by Oklahoma Sooners lead man Lincoln Riley as a replacement for Garrett if they move on from him this offseason.
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
From @gmfb Weekend: The #Cowboys seriously weighed moving on from OC Scott Linehan during the bye week and have an affinity for #OU coach Lincoln Riley if they move on from Jason Garrett… who @MikeGarafolo says may take back play-calling. https://t.co/8HRHaSKAHw
Per that report, Garrett could also take over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, whom he considered firing both in the offseason and during the team’s bye week.
Dallas is 3-5 and two games behind Washington in the NFC East. Lose against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, and the Cowboys could be on life support.
That also means Garrett is almost assuredly on the hot seat.
Dallas has made the postseason just twice (2014, 2016) under Garrett, winning just one playoff game. Since taking over as head coach midway through the 2010 season, Garrett has led the Cowboys to a 70-58 record, though he has only three winning seasons.
Meanwhile, the offense—which carried the team to a 13-3 record in 2016—has stagnated. Last season, the Cowboys finished 14th in yards (331.9) and points per game (22.1). This year, those figures have dropped to 27th (317.1) and 26th (19.3).
The offense falls particularly under Garrett’s purview—he served as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2010—so the Cowboys’ struggles on that side of the ball reflect as much on Garrett as they do on Linehan. Ditto for the struggles of quarterback Dak Prescott (1,660 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, five interceptions, 62.9 completion percentage), who has regressed after his excellent 2016 rookie season.
Granted, Dallas lacks offensive playmakers outside of running back Ezekiel Elliott. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, acquired in an Oct. 22 trade, should help in that regard.
It’s easy to understand why the Joneses might be impressed with Oklahoma’s Riley, who has led the Sooners to a 21-3 record in his two seasons on the job. The Sooners rank first in the nation in yards per game (577.1) and second in points per contest (49.0) this season.
Whether Riley would even consider the Cowboys—or any NFL team, for that matter—remains to be seen. In late October, he was asked about the prospect of becoming an NFL head coach and shot it down.
“No, not right now,” he said, per Jake Trotter of ESPN.com. “You sit here and answer these questions, and I always want to be truthful. The truth for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here. I love college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now. Don’t know that I ever will.
“But I’m never going to be a guy that stands up here and says no way, no how with any of these things ever happening. I don’t know that. But I know right now I could [not] care less about the NFL.”
If Garrett is fired this offseason and Jerry Jones comes calling, those comments will be put to the test.