The Dallas Cowboys close out the month of November seeking change. It just won’t come in the form of a new head coach.
In the aftermath of a dispiriting 26-15 loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving Thursday, Dallas owner Jerry Jones was asked in a multitude of ways if he is considering firing Jason Garrett — either this weekend or before the end of the season. He more or less had one answer.
“I’m just not going to make a coaching change,” Jones insisted. “… This is not the time.”
Just one day after Jones’ edict to finish first — it wasn’t clear if the Cowboys‘ de facto GM meant in the NFL or NFC — “America’s Team” now holds a mere half-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles for first in its division. The fact that Dallas still controls its own destiny might be Garrett’s saving grace.
Jones, who addressed reporters for nearly 30 minutes following the Cowboys‘ second defeat in five days, reiterated that he believes his current head coach and longtime employee is capable of leading this team to a championship — this year.
“I’m looking ahead at another ballgame and I’m looking ahead at winning four or five straight and helping to write a story that they’ll talk about that you were down and out and you got it done,” Jones said. “Every decision that I make over the next month will be with an eye in mind to get us in the Super Bowl now.”
The 6-6 Cowboys first need to get in the playoffs. They have yet to beat a winning team this season and, after 12 games, they no longer are one. They didn’t look like one either in a flustering performance versus the Bills. The offense continuously stalled on Buffalo’s side of the field, leading to a six-possession stretch that included no punts but two turnovers, two missed field goals and two failed fourth-down tries.
Josh Allen, meanwhile, led five scoring drives on the strength of his arm and legs, as the Bills scored 26 consecutive points and led by as many as 19. The lopsided affair didn’t stop Jones from expressing confidence afterward in both his staff and players to play through January.
“I’m not going to panic, I’m going to look for ways to improve the situation,” he said. “One of them is not a coaching change. One of them is not reworking the offense or the defense. Those aren’t alternatives for us to be ready to play over the next month and give us a chance to be what we want to be.”
Garrett and the Cowboys opened the game like the stakes were higher, as the offense swiftly drove down the field for a 75-yard touchdown drive on its first possession. After Dallas’ defense forced consecutive punts and shut out the Bills in the first quarter, Garrett decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 19. Dak Prescott rewarded the risky move with a 2-yard run, but the Cowboys would punt a few plays later.
They didn’t score again until their final possession, with the game well out of reach.
Dallas has now lost three of four at home and three of four overall, and is 2-6 against teams outside the NFC East. Its latest setback prompted some Cowboys to lash out in an emotional postgame locker room.
“Guys are passionate about our football team,” Garrett explained. “Guys put a lot into this and they work very hard every day and obviously, you want to win ball games. Unfortunately we didn’t get that done today and we’ll channel that passion in the right direction and get ready for the next challenge.”
The Cowboys don’t have extra time off despite playing on a short week. They also don’t have an easy matchup. They take on the surging Bears (6-6) in Chicago next Thursday, which Jones thinks could mark the start of a memorable run.
“The way that I’m going to handle this is encourage everybody to basically look to the possibility of winning out and end up doing something that people will write about 30 years from now,” he said. “I like that story tonight as I eat my turkey.”