Commentary

The jury is still out on Garrett as coach

Cowboys have won some and lost some -- in a variety of ways -- during coach's stint

Updated: December 20, 2010, 3:54 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- His team has won in stunning fashion, beating the Giants and Colts on the road.

It lost to the Eagles and Saints as expected, and now it's won a scrappy game.

When the Cowboys knocked off the Washington Redskins 33-30 on Sunday afternoon, in what on the surface looked like a meaningless game, it raised a question:

What do people make of Jason Garrett as a coach?

The guy in charge of finding the next full-time coach for the Cowboys might not even know.

Owner Jerry Jones watched his team lose a 27-7 second-half lead only to need a field goal in the final minute to go ahead permanently. Garrett is the same coach who was part of the reason former coach Wade Philips now has time to get haircuts twice a week.

His offense had issues the first eight weeks of the season and continues to be inconsistent at times. The offense failed to get into the end zone on three tries inside the Redskins' 5-yard line in the first half.

While it's nice and all that Jason Witten had 10 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown, Miles Austin isn't making much of an impact. He had three catches for 38 yards. He did have a 3-yard touchdown reception and a nice catch on a slant in the fourth quarter to set up David Buehler's field goal.

But Jones didn't sign Austin to a contract worth more than $50 million for the wideout to become a decoy or make a catch here and there.

The defense, while still playing the same scheme as it did under Phillips, isn't blitzing as much and instead is playing more zone to give itself a better chance to create turnovers. It had two interceptions and five sacks Sunday.

But it allowed Rex Grossman to throw for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Santana Moss, a man who should be covered the way opponents cover Austin, finished with eight catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. The last time Austin had at least eight catches in a game was October.

Yet the Cowboys won this game, and that's the point Garrett is trying to make. It doesn't matter how ugly it is, you just want to win.

It's something Jones has taken note of.

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett
Tim Heitman/US PresswireJason Garrett earned another win as Cowboys coach, but did he gain or lose confidence with his team's performance against Washington?

"Our team had the air sucked out of it," Jones said. "And we give them a lot of credit for coming back like that; criticize us where you want to criticize us, but we came down there and did it right there in the end and made the pressure kick."

Going forward Garrett is getting evaluated to see if he is the man who can lead the Cowboys back to the postseason. Over the next two weeks he's got more chances to prove himself to Jones and the rest of the front office.

"I don't think there's any question he's going to be the coach next year," defensive end Igor Olshansky said. "It seems like he's the man."

Olshansky played for Phillips and believed in his principles.

Now with Garrett as the coach he's starting to agree with the interim coach.

"I like him," Olshansky said. "I like his attention to detail, I like his approach. I'm a fan."

Garrett gained another fan in outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Ware was upset when Phillips lost his job but said he understands the business of the NFL says if you don't win, coaches get fired.

"I think that's the main thing," Ware said. "The players can get him hired or fired; we knew that from the beginning. So we just get out there and just play. [Garrett] is trying to get a job, and I talked to some of the guys and it's about being evaluated from the first game to the last game."

When this season ends Jones will be making some phone calls to coaches across the country.

We learned Sunday that former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has a list of teams he would like to coach, and the Cowboys are not one of them. There's this guy in Carolina, John Fox, who might get fired and become available for a phone call from Jones.

There are a few other former coaches working for ESPN who might get calls and some assistant coaches who will sharpen up their résumés.

Publicly, Garrett doesn't say he's applying for a job. He doesn't call himself the interim coach because he doesn't think that's the right word.

"I see myself as the Cowboys coach, that's what I am," he said. "I try to do my best at it every single day."

At least for now that's what he is. Long term is uncertain.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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