IRVING, Texas – As Jerry Jones considered minority candidates for his next head coach, front-runner Jason Garrett remained hard at work, too, on Tuesday.
No longer interim coach, Garrett is still the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. So he was at his desk doing what he was supposed to be doing two days after the end of the season.
"Evaluations, evaluations, evaluations," he said.
Anything else to add?
"None," he said while walking back into his office.
Jones said on his radio show Tuesday morning that he could have a decision by the afternoon and an announcement Wednesday. The hold-up seems to be complying with the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to consider minority candidates.
"We're moving at a real good rate from a timing standpoint," Jones said. "I expect a pretty immediate resolve."
Jones fulfilled that by spending three hours Tuesday with receivers coach Ray Sherman, who is black. Sherman has been in the NFL since 1988, with stints as an assistant head coach in Atlanta and offensive coordinator with the Jets, Steelers and Vikings. This was his fourth season in Dallas, all of them spent working under Garrett.
Asked how the meeting went, Sherman said, "It was good, it was good."
While Sherman's resume makes him a viable candidate, the Rooney Rule is aimed at giving younger, lesser-known coaches the experience and exposure that goes with an interview. Jones already has said he would interview someone from outside the organization, so it's likely that person would fit the league-preferred model, such as former Cowboys secondary coach Todd Bowles, now the assistant head coach and secondary coach in Miami; Dallas also is in the market for a defensive coordinator.
"I don't want to sound like I've got a gun to my head, but I really want to adhere to what we call the Rooney Rule in the NFL and do the things as we've all agreed to do regarding minority hiring," Jones said. "So I wanted to get that done right and obviously you haven't done it right if you've already made a hire and yet haven't done your interviewing."
Garrett was given a chance to win the job with his midseason promotion to interim coach. He went 5-3 with a club that had been 1-7. All the losses in his tenure were by a field goal or less. Many players said they hope Garrett will return because they appreciated the structure and discipline he brought.
"There is no joy in Mudville here regarding the success we had," Jones said. "But it's better than what it could have been. That does give a real positive thing to evaluate regarding Jason."
Jones nearly hired Garrett four years ago, but made him offensive coordinator under Wade Phillips. His contract as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator runs through next season.
If the Cowboys don't hire Garrett, or don't do it soon, other teams may want to hire him. Jones refused to discuss whether he's been asked for permission to speak with Garrett — and, if so, whether he's granted it.
"There's no good purpose for me going into dialogue between clubs regarding any of the coaches we have," Jones said.
When Jones spoke to the team at their annual wrapup session Monday, he talked about the disappointment of this season and the optimism for the future. The offense seems in good shape, especially with Garrett running it in some capacity, but the defense needs to be fixed. There are a few reliable players in place, but not as many as the Cowboys were counting on when they began this season with aspirations of becoming the first team to play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium.
"We've got to get in here and take the assets — we have plenty of them that we've got right now — and really turn this thing and get on track to where we thought we were going to be this year," Jones said.