SPORTS COMMENTARY

Tim Cowlishaw: How soon is too soon to fire Jason Garrett?

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The Cowboys have never played a game at AT&T Stadium — now in its 10th season  — without Jason Garrett on the sideline either as head coach or offensive coordinator. Isn't it time for that to change? And, if so, how soon?

After an uninspired 24-13 loss in Seattle, the Cowboys are 1-2 for the first time since 2010. That, not coincidentally, was the season in which Garrett replaced Wade Phillips after the team slid to 1-7.

Phillips lost the team that year. Garrett has simply lost his mind.

Or perhaps Scott Linehan is the culprit, and I know a lot of folks want to focus their attention on him for the play-calling which has been somewhere between puzzling and criminal this season. He is, after all, the play caller.

But this was Garrett's offense for years both as coordinator and top dog, and while we can question how much authority owner Jerry Jones strips him of when it comes to decision making (I would say it's far less that most think), he certainly has the power to change plays or the offense's direction.

Here's what we know after three games.

The two men in charge of the offense have forgotten how this team was built and how it won 13 games in 2016. Ezekiel Elliott is tied for the league lead in rushing yards with 274. He's averaging 5.7 per carry.

And yet has not had a single 20-carry game this season. The only game last season in which Elliott didn't carry it 20 times was the 42-17 blowout loss in Denver in which the Broncos shut everything down.

During the 11-game winning streak in 2016 — when the legend of Dak was born (Zeke had already created his legend at Ohio State) — Elliott had 20 or more carries nine times. The two games in which he fell short were wins of 14 points or more in which they simply didn't need to extend him.

This season he averages 16 carries, hasn't had more than 17, and, yes, I know the team hasn't run very many plays so far. The club's inability to extend drives rests partly on the unwillingness to let Zeke carry the load.

We heard in Oxnard how one of the fixes for a passing attack that would lack Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in 2018 would be more throws to Zeke. One opportunity was missed in Seattle when Zeke stepped out of bounds after getting behind Earl Thomas. But nothing with any imagination has been added and the man has just 37 yards on 11 catches.

That, of course, brings us to Dak and the failed passing attack. With 498 yards after three games, he ranks 28th in the league. With 11 sacks, Dak is tied with Buffalo rookie Josh Allen for fifth in the league. A very average 61 percent efficiency, a low yardage per pass total, two touchdowns — it's all wildly mediocre.

This is the part for me that is more on Garrett than Linehan. The coordinator is the one who has created the imbalance in the play-calling, but Garrett is the believer in the "right kind of guys" approach that has left this team with a no-name group of receivers.

Beyond that, this is Garrett's eighth full season as head coach. Not that I want to follow Rangers GM Jon Daniels in all my team-building efforts, but, as he said while firing Jeff Banister in his fourth season, sometimes "a new voice" is needed.

We have heard Garrett's voice a long time. Fans and media tired of it long before the players did, but what are they getting out of it these days? More important, when's the last time you watched a Cowboys game and felt like the other team's head coach was overmatched and less creative?

We have had this discussion before, but head coaches that don't reach conference title games in their first five or six seasons rarely just stumble into success after that. There was a time when one playoff win in seven years would get a man fired around here.

This team may right the ship, but it looks like that is more about hovering around the .500 mark all season than moving forward as a team that can win playoff games. I don't know that a midseason course change does anything for the club other than advance the inevitable. If the losing continues for a few more weeks and this team is sitting at 2-5, if I'm Jerry Jones, I'd rather see what Kris Richard looks like as a head coach and whether that seems like any kind of answer than just watching Garrett run out the string.

How we doin', guys?

Pretty lousy it seems. 

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