Although the Dallas Cowboys continue to publicly back head coach Jason Garrett, a report suggests the team is high on Lincoln Riley as a possible replacement.
For many fans of the Dallas Cowboys, head coach Jason Garrett wore out his welcome several years ago. Nine seasons into his tenure officially at the helm of America’s Team and the former backup quarterback has little hardware to show for his efforts.
The results speak for themselves. Four seasons with a record above .500. Three postseason appearances. Two playoffs wins. And one NFL Coach of the Year award in 2016.
Despite his overall lack of success, Garrett has been able to retain his job with the beloved franchise longer than any man not named Tom Landry. And that’s due to his close relationship with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and the Jones family.
Yet, 2019 has been distinctly different. For only the second time in his near decade long career as head coach of the Cowboys, Garrett entered the season a lame duck. Jerry Jones refused to extend the 53-year old Princeton grad beyond this year, which sparked speculation that Garrett was finally on the hot seat.
Entering the month of December, and the Cowboys are the very definition of mediocre despite possessing a roster full of Super Bowl-level talent. Dallas has a record of 6-6 but still sits atop the NFC East rankings as they play in the NFL’s worst division.
With only four games to go, the Cowboys control their own destiny. But even if they make the playoffs, there’s no guarantee Garrett will be receiving an extension. In fact, according to a recent report, the Dallas brass is smitten with a talented young college coach.
Here’s what NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday about who might be the replacement for Garrett at season’s end.
"“I am told keep on eye on Lincoln Riley, the promising young coach out of Oklahoma. Here’s one of the reasons why. The Joneses, Jerry and Stephen, already have formed a close relationship with Lincoln Riley going back to the recruitment of walk-on quarterback John Stephen, who is Jerry Jones’ grandson. Lincoln Riley took a home visit with the Joneses … That is the time they realized what a genius this guy was at offensive football and how they became smitten with him.”"
The 36-year old Riley figures to be the hottest name on the NFL’s coaching carousel this offseason. And if the Cowboys head coaching position were vacant at the end of the season, there is no doubt that it would be the premier opening in all of sports for any coach.
A former quarterback himself, Riley had coaching stints at Texas Tech (under Mike Leach) and East Carolina before landing at Oklahoma five years ago as the offensive coordinator under Bob Stoops. He was prompted to head coach in 2017 and has led the Sooners to a 35-5 overall record.
A native Texan, Riley is known for his work with young quarterbacks. Both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were Heisman Trophy winners under his tutelage. And both were the number one overall selection in back-to-back NFL drafts. Riley’s current quarterback at Oklahoma, Jalen Hurts, appears to also in the running for the Heisman, which would make for an incredible three-year run for the Sooners.
In Dallas, Lincoln Riley would be asked to continue to transform fourth-year quarterback Dak Prescott into a premier passer. And the Cowboys offense, which is already one of the best in the NFL, should only get better. The biggest question about this team would then be on defense, which has regressed this season under coordinators Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard. Perhaps a coaching change on that side of the ball is called for as well.