Sources: Jason Garrett is Dallas' coach
By Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer
IRVING, Texas -- The expected has happened. Jason Garrett has been named the Dallas Cowboys' head coach, sources said Thursday.
The team has scheduled a press conference for 1:30 p.m. CT to make an official announcement.
Terms of the deal were not available, but Garrett had one year remaining on his contract as the assistant head coach that paid him $3.5 million annually.
Considered the favorite all along, Garrett is the eighth coach in franchise history and owner/general manager Jerry Jones did not feel the need for an exhaustive search. He interviewed wide receivers coach Ray Sherman to comply with the NFL's Rooney Rule, which states a team must talk with at least one minority coach during the process.
He also interviewed Miami Dolphins assistant Todd Bowles, a former Dallas assistant.
Jones wanted to finalize the deal quickly because he didn't want other teams with vacancies getting their hands on Garrett.
Garrett played for the Cowboys as a backup quarterback from 1993-99 and his father, Jim, was a longtime scout for the team. Two brothers are also in the organization -- John Garrett is the Cowboys' tight ends coach and Judd Garrett is director of pro scouting
Jason Garrett is the first former player to become this team's head coach and the seventh hire made by Jones since 1989.
Garrett was named Dallas' interim coach on Nov. 18 after Jones fired Wade Phillips following a 1-7 start to the season. The Cowboys finished 5-3 under Garrett, including a 14-13 win Sunday at Philadelphia in which third-string quarterback Stephen McGee started.
The Cowboys' three losses were by a combined seven points to New Orleans, Philadelphia and Arizona. By contrast the Cowboys' final two losses under Phillips were by 18 and 38 points, with the defense falling apart after quarterback Tony Romo suffered what turned out to be a season-ending broken left collarbone.
Garrett immediately changed what was a lackadaisical atmosphere around Valley Ranch into a more up-tempo setting in practice. Players were full pads in Wednesday practices, which was rare under Phillips. He made players more accountable, fining those who were late to meetings or not compliant with a dress code for road games.
After Sunday's win most players expressed the hope that Garrett would lose the interim tag. Captains Bradie James, Keith Brooking, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Romo sung Garrett's praises.
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 with a $3.5 million salary.
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. 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 Romo to the injury. 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 backups Jon Kitna and McGee for the final 10 games. The Cowboys scored at least 26 points in seven of Garrett's eight games as interim coach.
Now comes the hard part of putting a full-time stamp on the team when there could be a lockout if the NFL and its players' association are unable to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Garrett could make changes to the coaching staff, but he said he would continue as the playcaller if he remained as head coach. He will also be heavily involved in shaping the roster; decisions have to be made on high-priced veterans like Marion Barber, Roy Williams, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo and Terence Newman.