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Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside five of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team's head coach.
Having literally grown up around successful head coaches in the NFL and in the Dallas Cowboys family, Garrett was a member of three Super Bowl winning teams in the 1990s during his seven seasons as a Cowboys quarterback. His father, Jim, was a personnel scout for the team for 21 years and served under every Super Bowl winning head coach and ownership regime in franchise history.
As a player in Dallas, Garrett learned under championship coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, while serving as a back-up to Troy Aikman in offenses directed by Norv Turner and Ernie Zampese. He went on to play for the New York Giants who reached Super Bowl XXXV while playing for offensive coordinator Sean Payton. Garrett finished his playing days while studying under Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay and started his coaching career with the Miami Dolphins, where he worked under two-time collegiate national championship head coach, Nick Saban.
Garrett was elevated to the Cowboys top job after taking over as the team's interim head coach at the midpoint of the 2010 season. He went on to guide a Dallas team that had started the season with a 1-7 record to a 5-3 mark down the stretch. In the season's second half, three of the Cowboys five victories were against teams that posted 10 regular season wins, while the three Dallas defeats were decided by a combined total of seven points.
Since the 2007, season Garrett had been the Cowboys offensive coordinator under head coach Wade Phillips, and in 2008, he was assigned the additional duties of being the club's assistant head coach.
Under Garrett, the Dallas offense has reached high levels of productivity in several categories, and the unit has finished among the NFL's top-10 in total offense in three of his four years at the helm: 2010 (10th), 2009 (2nd), and 2007 (2nd). From the start of the 2007 season, the club has averaged 24.6 points-per-game and 368.5 total yards-per-outing. The team has set single-season records in a handful of categories, and from 2007 to 2009 the cumulative numbers for total net yards (17,753), gross yards (12,761) and passing yards (12,181) represented the best totals over a three-year span in the history of the organization. Under Garrett's tutelage, eight offensive players have earned trips to the Pro Bowl, while three of those men, running back Marion Barber, guard Leonard Davis, and wide receiver Miles Austin earned their first career Pro Bowl selections.
Although the 2010 club faced its share of challenges, the offense continued to put up big numbers, amassing 5,828 total yards for the seventh-highest yardage output in franchise history. Dallas also topped the 4,000 passing yard mark for the third time in four years with the third-most in club history (4,042). Quarterback Tony Romo started the season running the offense, but a fractured left clavicle suffered against the N.Y. Giants (10/25) led the way for Jon Kitna to take over. Before the injury, Romo completed 148-of-213 passes (69.5%) for 1,605 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. At the time of his injury, he had a 94.9 quarterback rating that was sixth in the NFL and tops in the NFC. In his first action since 2008, Kitna completed 209-of-318 passes (65.7%) for 2,365 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Tight end Jason Witten continued to thrive as he led the team and all league tight ends with 94 catches - good for third in the league. Witten also finished with 1,002 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. His 1,002 yards marked his third career 1,000-yard season and his second consecutive while his nine touchdowns tied a team tight end record. Austin notched his second straight 1,000-yard season (1,041) to give the Cowboys their fifth time with two pass catchers topping 1,000 yards. Rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant was well on his way to a record-breaking rookie season before fracturing his ankle at Indianapolis (12/5). Prior to his injury, Bryant collected 45 catches (second all-time among team rookies) for 564 yards (fifth) and six touchdown catches (tied for second). The club sent three offensive players to the Pro Bowl: Austin (second consecutive), Andre Gurode (fifth consecutive) and Witten (seventh consecutive).
En route to winning the 2009 NFC Eastern Division title, Dallas established club records for total offensive yards (6,390), net passing yards (4,287) and pass completions (347). Dallas ranked second in the NFL in yards-per-game (399.4), sixth in passing (267.9) and seventh in the league in rushing (131.4). Romo broke his previous single season records for completions (347) and passing yards (4,483), while Austin (1,320 receiving yards) and Jason Witten (1,030) became just the fourth pair of Cowboys pass catchers to gain more than 1,000 yards in a season in team annals. On the ground, second-year running back Felix Jones eclipsed a 47-year old record for rushing yards-per-carry with a season average of 5.9.
The 2009 club led the NFL in average gain on first down plays (6.52), and five offensive players made trips to the Pro Bowl in South Florida: Witten, Davis, Gurode, Romo and Austin.
In 2008 Dallas finished the season 13th in the NFL in total offense with an average of 344.5 yards-per-game. The team was ninth in the league in passing offense (236.8 yards-per-game), and the team's total of 3,789 net yards passing was the fifth-highest in club history since the 16-game NFL regular season was implemented in 1978. Following the season, offensive linemen Davis, Gurode and Flozell Adams were selected to represent the Cowboys in the Pro Bowl along with Witten.
In 2007 Garrett directed a Dallas unit that produced one of the most explosive seasons in club history. Following the season in which the Cowboys won the NFC Eastern Division crown with a team-record tying 13 victories, head coach Wade Phillips added to Garrett's responsibilities by naming him the club's assistant head coach on January 17, 2008. Regarded as one of the bright young offensive minds in the league, Garrett was named Pro Football Weekly's NFL's Assistant Coach of the Year in March of 2008. The award, which is presented annually at the Ed Block Courage Awards Banquet in Baltimore, is selected by a vote of the Pro Football Writers of America.
Dallas finished the 2007 season second in the NFL in scoring (first in the NFC) with an average of 28.4 points-per-game. The 455 points scored in 2007 marked the second-highest figure in club history behind only the 1983 club (479 points). The Cowboys scored at least 20 points in 14 of its 16 games in 2007, marking the most 20-plus point games since the 1995 club also had 14. The 2007 offense also set a club record by scoring 24-points-or-more in the first 13 games of the season.
With a 16-game average of 365.7 yards-per-game, the Cowboys were third in the NFL (second in the NFC) in total offense. Dallas closed the 2007 season fourth in the NFL (third in the NFC) in passing with an average of 256.6 yards-per-game. In the rushing offense category, the Cowboys were 17th in the NFL (seventh in the NFC) with an average of 109.1 yards-per-game. The 5,851 yards in total offense by Dallas in 2007 marked the fifth-highest total yardage output in team history at the time. The Cowboys established a club record with 217 passing first downs in 2007, while also leading the NFL in average yards gained on first downs. Dallas picked up an average of 6.24 yards on first down plays, while New England (6.09) was second.
In his first full season as an NFL starter, Romo finished the campaign as the NFC's top rated passer (97.4), marking the third-highest single season passer rating in club history. With 36 touchdown passes in 2007, Romo established a Cowboys record for single season scoring tosses - eclipsing the mark of 29 set by Danny White in 1983. Romo also set what were then season club marks for completions (335) and passing yardage (4,211).
Terrell Owens closed the year second in the NFC in receiving yardage with 1,355 (fifth in the NFL), and he led the NFC in touchdown catches (third in the NFL) with a club record 15 scoring receptions. Witten finished the year second among all NFL tight ends (first in the NFC) in both receptions (96) and yardage (1,145). Both totals represented club records for a Dallas tight end in a single season.
Barber's 4.8-yard rushing average was fifth among all NFL backs, and his 10 rushing touchdowns tied for fifth in the NFL. The one-two punch of Barber and Julius Jones combined for 1,563 yards on the ground and a combined average of 97.7 yards-per-game.
Garrett returned to Dallas in 2007 as the offensive coordinator after spending the previous two seasons tutoring the Miami Dolphins quarterbacks. Garrett, who was a back-up quarterback to Troy Aikman in Dallas from 1993 to 1999, rejoined the Cowboys with a great understanding of the championship heritage of the organization. As a player in Dallas, he was a member of teams that won six division titles and three Super Bowl championships.
As a player, Garrett worked under highly successful offensive coordinators Norv Turner and Ernie Zampese in Dallas while providing sideline assistance to Aikman for the majority of his Hall of Fame career. After moving to New York in 2000, he helped guide starting quarterback Kerry Collins and the Giants to an NFC Championship and a Super Bowl berth while working along side current Saints head coach Sean Payton, who was the team's offensive coordinator. Garrett also gained valuable experience in absorbing Head Coach Jon Gruden's offensive philosophies during a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the closing months of his playing career in 2004.
He entered the coaching profession in February of 2005 as the quarterbacks coach for Nick Saban's first Miami Dolphins club. While in Miami, Garrett capably handled the challenge of having to work with five different starting quarterbacks over the course of 32 regular season games. In 2005 Miami quarterbacks threw 22 touchdowns with just 16 interceptions. Their plus-six differential was the team's best since the 1998 season when they were a plus-seven (23-16). In 2006 Garrett managed three starting quarterbacks for an offensive unit that produced four pass receivers who each had at least 55 receptions. It marked the first time in club history that four different receivers had at least 55 catches.
In his seven years as a player in Dallas, Garrett started nine of the 23 games in which he played. A key reserve player on three Super Bowl teams, he is best remembered for his Thanksgiving Day heroics in 1994. As the Cowboys third quarterback on the depth chart, he made his second career start against Green Bay after Aikman and backup quarterback Rodney Peete were felled with injuries in previous weeks. Garrett led Dallas to a thrilling 42-31 come-from-behind victory in which he directed the Cowboys to a club-record 36 second half points with six consecutive second half scoring drives. He finished the day with 311 passing yards on 15 completions with two touchdown tosses and was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week. He went on to start five games in 1998 and two games in 1999 to finish his days in Dallas with a 6-3 record as a starting quarterback.
Garrett served as the primary backup to Kerry Collins during the New York Giants run to the Super Bowl in 2000, and played the entire fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game that year. He spent the next three seasons with the Giants (2000-03).
He concluded his career by splitting the 2004 season with Tampa Bay and Miami. Overall in his 12 NFL seasons, Garrett started nine of the 40 regular season games in which he played and completed 165-of-294 passes for 2,042 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
As a senior at Princeton University in 1988, Garrett was named the Ivy League's Player of the Year and honorable mention All American. He earned his degree in history in 1989, and moved on to the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent with the New Orleans Saints developmental squad. After being released prior to the 1990 season, he spent the fall of 1990 as an assistant coach at Princeton. In 1991 Garrett moved on to play in the World League and the Canadian Football League before joining the Cowboys practice squad in 1992.
Garrett, who prepped at University School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, followed in his family footsteps in 2005. His father, Jim, spent more than 30 years in the NFL as a coach and scout. His brother, John, is now the passing game coordinator/tight ends coach with the Cowboys. Another brother, Judd, was a practice squad player for the 1993 Cowboys Super Bowl Championship club and is now with the Cowboys scouting department as the director of pro scouting.
Jason and his wife Brill founded their charitable foundation, Jason Garrett Starfish Charities, in 1997 with the goal of enriching the lives of young people. The principle activity of the foundation is a one-day football camp and leadership forum for high school athletes, which is held each summer at Princeton University in conjunction with Play It Smart, a program administered by the National Football Foundation.
Born on March 28, 1966, Garrett resides in Dallas with his wife, Brill.