IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones would call his decision to get rid of Chan Gailey a mistake after the 1999 season.
Gailey went 18-14 in two seasons as the Cowboys head coach, and Jones doesn't want to make the same error by firing head coach Jason Garrett based on a small sample size.
"You've got to look at (Garrett's) short tenure as our coach as well as his potential for the future," Jones said on his radio show. "That's a combination that's worth looking at real good. Yes, I made a coaching change with a coach in here that'd only been here two years, Chan Gailey. I regretted it. That was not the thing to do at the time."
Gailey, who's now the head coach of the Bills, took the Cowboys to the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Dallas in 1998 and 1999. The Cowboys elected to go with Dave Campo as the head coach the next three years, compiling a 15-33 record in that span.
"It's probably one of just a few things regarding the coaching thing that I would take back," Jones said. "That was a pretty quick tenure for him and fair's not the word, but I don't know that it was fair to our team and our fans. Having said all that, you need to look at how short a time Jason's been here, you need to look at the potential that he has. You need to look at a coach like Bill Belichick that went up to Cleveland, was fired, and then turned around and was looking trying to get a job and ends up working his way back through and ends up at New England later on. The books are full of coaches that initially started slower and ended up doing outstanding jobs."
Jones also referenced the case of Tom Landry, whose 29-year tenure that included two Super Bowl championships in Dallas also began with five straight losing seasons, including a winless campaign in his first year as head coach.
That said, Jones knows the Cowboys can't continue to lose games and miss opportunities to reach the playoffs with Garrett, who's exactly .500 since taking over as head coach. Jones said he needs to see that winning percentage increase while players like Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware are still in their prime.
"We have talent," Jones said. "We don't have time to have a bad time. We're having it, but we don't really have that kind of time in their careers."
Rumors have swirled about the Cowboys potentially reeling in head coach Sean Payton if he can't work out a deal with the Saints, but Jones stuck by his current head coach. He said he has no idea where those rumors came from.
"Sean Payton can't have any communication, that I'm aware of, even with his own team," Jones said. "I have no idea what they're talking about and I have no understanding about anything to do with his business or the Saints business. All of that was news to me. I saw it just like you did on television."
Jones will continue on with Garrett. He said the season is far from over, but the Cowboys need a quick turnaround beginning this weekend.
"We need to win a game against Philadelphia," Jones said. "I look for upticks. I saw the uptick when Jason took over as our head coach. I saw the arrow going up, and I look for that."