Dallas Cowboys' coach is Jason Garrett

Updated: February 1, 2011, 5:18 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Standing at a podium on the main concourse with the largest video board in sports as a backdrop, Jason Garrett was announced as the eighth coach to lead the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

Garrett earned the job after going 5-3 during the second-half of the 2010 season in place of Wade Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 8.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones listed wanting a culture change around Valley Ranch as one of his reasons for making the move from Phillips to Garrett, and those eight games confirmed to him he made the right decision.

"He's truly one of our own," Jones said of Garrett, who was a backup quarterback for seven seasons with the Cowboys. "We know him well for the qualifications that he has for this position, and I know that he has spent his entire life preparing for this day. He's well qualified."

Jones has so much respect for Garrett that he stressed the new coach will make the final call on who is on the coaching staff and indicated there will not be a player on the 53-man roster he doesn't approve of.

"Jason will have the final say on any person that leaves the coaching staff or comes to the coaching staff," Jones said. "There won't be a player on this team that Jason does not want on the team."

Garrett agreed to a four-year contract, though financial terms were not disclosed. Garrett had one year remaining on his assistant coach's contract that paid him $3.5 million a year, the highest in the league.

He will remain the offensive playcaller and there is a possibility there won't be an offensive coordinator. Garrett and Jones said no decisions have been made regarding the coaching staff.

Garrett takes over a team that finished 6-10 and in third place in the NFC East. The Cowboys started the 2010 season with Super Bowl aspirations but an 0-2 start morphed into a 1-7 record at the midway point.

Jones elected to fire Phillips, whom he just gave a two-year extension to the year before, following a 45-7 loss at Green Bay.

Garrett said at that moment he was challenged to fix the operation of the Cowboys. It worked quickly as he won his first game, Nov. 14 at the New York Giants.

The Cowboys didn't give up on their season and of the five victories under Garrett, three were on the road, including the regular season finale at Philadelphia.

Garrett's teams lost three games by a total of seven points.

"One of the things that I talk about with our players all the time is appreciating the opportunities they have as players," Garrett said. "It's a hard room to get into and it's a hard room to stay in. My approach as a player was to be as good as I could be each and every day."

Several Cowboys players endorsed Garrett as the coach, and cornerback Mike Jenkins said the new coach talked to the team about becoming positive role models away from the field.

But Jones said he needed to go through the interview process before hiring Garrett and promised a decision would be forthcoming by the end of this week.

He interviewed just two candidates, wide receivers coach Ray Sherman and Miami Dolphins assistant coach Todd Bowles.

The coaches, who are African-American, satisfied the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates.

Jones called Bowles spectacular and Stephen Jones, the executive vice president, who also did the interviews with his father, said Sherman was impressive.

A previous relationship that made a comfort level stronger and his work during the second half of the 2010 season told the Joneses they needed to keep Garrett.

The Cowboys felt rushed in some ways to get a deal done with Garrett. Jerry Jones said several teams contacted him for permission to speak with Garrett about vacant coaching openings. Jones wouldn't identify those teams but realized he needed to move quickly.

"I was getting calls from other clubs wanting to know if they could interview him for head coach, just to let you know" Jones said. "From significant ones ... the ones you're reading about right now. So I know what a top-flight coach we've got here."

For Garrett, 44, this seems like the culmination of a process that started when he joined the Cowboys before Jones even named Phillips the coach in 2007. He was viewed as the coach-in-waiting ever since but interviewed with Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Detroit and St. Louis. After Garrett turned down the Ravens, Jones made him the highest-paid assistant in the NFL.

In his four-year run as offensive coordinator, the Cowboys have not had an offense rank lower than 13th in the NFL. It has not always been perfect, like calling a play late in the first half of the season opener at Washington that turned into a Redskins touchdown after a Tashard Choice fumble.

Garrett held a meeting the last week of the season with wide receiver Roy Williams about his comments regarding the offense. Garrett also had to fine starting running back Marion Barber in his first game as coach for violating the team dress code.

In 2008, wide receiver Terrell Owens questioned Garrett's playcalling and Baltimore's Ed Reed said the Cowboys were predictable.

But 2010 may have been his best year after losing Tony Romo to a broken collarbone.

The Cowboys finished the year ranked No. 7 in offense in terms of yards (364.2) and points (24.6) per game, while having to use backup quarterbacks Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee for the final 10 games. The Cowboys scored at least 26 points in seven of Garrett's eight games as interim coach.

Now with the added responsibilities official, Garrett must get the team back on track. Jones still believes it's a playoff team and one that could have a massive roster turnover due to free agency and the club's decision to release underachieving players.

"It's always been a very honest relationship that Mr. Jones and I have with each other," Garrett said. "I've always thought I told him what I thought about everything and when you become the head coach, now you have different kinds of decisions because you have different kinds of responsibilities."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. Information from ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer was used in this report.

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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