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Ask a former NFL player: What’s taking the Cowboys so long to fire Jason Garrett?

In his first mailbag of 2020, Geoff Schwartz focuses on Black Monday, including what it feels like when a new coach enters the building.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett looks to his right at team owner Jerry Jones, whose back is facing the camera
Jason Garrett’s contract with the Cowboys is up on Jan. 14.

Happy New Year to y’all! It’s almost time for Wild Card Weekend, and we’ve got four awesome games. I’ve got you covered with my rooting guide for those matchups.

For this mailbag, I’m going to focus on something else going on in the NFL this week: coaching changes. Before I get to that, though, don’t forget you can reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram if you have a question for next time.

Why are the Cowboys taking so long with/with not firing Jason Garrett? — @PabloBison

It seems clear now that Jason Garrett will not return to the Cowboys as their head coach, but like Pablo just asked, why haven’t they flat-out fired him? Everyone believes it’s because they view Garrett as a son and would rather let his contract expire on Jan. 14 than say the word “fired.” Additionally, there is belief the Cowboys would be looking to add Garrett to the front office staff as a soft landing.

I think all of this is foolish. If the Cowboys believe Garrett isn’t their future, sit him down and explain the situation. Just move the heck along. You’re wasting time for not only the rebranding of the franchise, but also the assistant coaches who don’t know their future. It’s making the Cowboys look weak.

And I’ll float out one more theory about the length of this goodbye. It’s entirely possible this is taking so long because the Cowboys are vetting candidates behind the scenes to see if they want the gig. What if Urban Meyer, Lincoln Riley, and Matt Rhule all said no? Seems improbable but not impossible. And if all say no, then Garrett might be the best option at head coach from 2020.

How much does a new head coach and/or GM affect the team? What’s the uncertainty like? — @LownesMatthew

Unless you’re tied down with a massive contract, you have to be worried that you’re gone. A new general manager and head coach want their own guys in the building who fit their scheme and what their identity should be. And while that stinks for the player in the moment, it’s totally the right call for the new staff.

Think about this. Most of the time when you’re a new staff, you’re entering a franchise that’s struggled for years. The talent isn’t there, or if it is, it’s not playing well enough. You watch the film and it’s ugly. Your first thought is getting rid of these guys who didn’t play well and starting new. Also, there’s no emotional connection with the new front office and the old players.

I have a few personal stories from this experience, including this one: I was on the Giants with Tom Coughlin in 2014 and 2015. I had only played 13 games in the two seasons because of injury. When Coughlin was fired and Ben McAdoo promoted, I figured the Giants would ask me to restructure because the general manager was still in place. Then we hired a new offensive line coach, and I realized he hadn’t called me yet, as my teammates had asked me if I had spoken to him.

That’s when I knew I was getting released. The call came soon enough from the general manager. While McAdoo wasn’t an outsider getting a new gig, he did not like me. Oh well.

With coaching carousel season upon us, I’m curious why we don’t see more coaches enter free agency. In a profession where ego is a prerequisite for success, why don’t more coaches bet on themselves? — @adamrowsey

Stability. Plain and simple. No moving your family. No worrying about where your kid are going to school. There are only 32 head coaching jobs and they pay extremely well.

But more than that, it’s easier to build a culture and install the playbook when you’re doing it the same year after year. It’s much easier to tweak the playbook, include new wrinkles, and experiment when your players have an extremely firm understanding of the concepts of the offense or defense. That only happens with multiple years in the same system.

Also, I don’t think the grass is often that much greener at other places. For example, where would Sean McVay go? The Cowboys or Browns? The Cowboys are about to be in cap hell with Dak Prescott. Is he that much better than Jared Goff to where McVay needed to leave? Does McVay want to coach the Browns? Heck no.