The Cowboys’ first season was in 1960, but they have had a lot of consistency throughout their career in terms of head coaches. Including Mike McCarthy who was hired before the 2020 season, the Cowboys have had only nine different coaches in their history.
Let’s rank the five best coaches in Cowboys history.
5. Jason Garrett
There might be some who argue that it should be Wade Phillips in this place, but Jason Garrett just edges him out, even though the playoff success wasn’t ever really there.
Garrett took over the Cowboys in 2010, leading the team to three NFC East championships. The one big knock on Garrett was there was some inconsistency with the team getting to the playoffs. Those three NFC East championships were the only three times the Cowboys made the playoffs under him. In 2016, he was also named the AP Coach of the Year.
Garrett finished the regular season with an 85-67 record, but during the playoffs, he had only a 2-3 record.
4. Bill Parcells
Bill Parcells had a bad Cowboys team handed to him when he took over the job in 2003. Parcells’ winning percentage with the Cowboys wasn’t elite in going only 34-30, but what he did with the Cowboys still has an impact on the NFL today.
Sean Payton and Mike Zimmer both worked under Parcells before later becoming NFL head coaches themselves. The Cowboys made the playoffs in two of Parcells’ four seasons with the team, but they failed to win a game once they got there.
Even though there wasn’t a lot of playoff success, he set up the team well for success going forward.
3. Barry Switzer
There was immense pressure on Barry Switzer who was taking over Jimmy Johnson before the 1994 season. Switzer really was in a no-win situation with the job. If he lost, he was bashed, but if he won, all the credit still would go to Johnson.
Even with high expectations, Switzer found a lot of success. He finished with a 40-24 record which is good enough for the best winning percentage in Cowboys history.
Switzer also led Dallas to one Super Bowl championship, which put him in elite company in being only the second coach ever to win a national title in college football and win the Super Bowl.
2. Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy Johnson only won one game in his first season with the Cowboys in 1989, but it didn’t take long after that to find success. Johnson led the Cowboys to three playoff berths, two NFC championship victories, and two Super Bowls.
Johnson and Jerry Jones didn’t have a great relationship which ultimately led to the Dallas coach leaving the team after the 1993 season. That was disappointing to most because they believed Johnson could have led the Cowboys to four straight championships.
At the time, Johnson was the first coach ever to win the national championship in college and the Super Bowl in the NFL.
1. Tom Landry
Is there really any doubt about who the best coach in Cowboys history is? Not only is Tom Landry the best coach in Cowboys history, but there are some who argue he is the best coach in NFL history.
Landry was the Cowboys first coach in 1960 and was with the team all the way until 1988. He finished the regular season with a 250-162-6 record. During the playoffs, he led the Cowboys to five NFC championships and two Super Bowl wins.
When everyone thinks of the early days of Cowboys’ history, the two people thought of are simple: Landry and Roger Staubach. In 1990, Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.