When Jason Garrett took over as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys mid-way through the 2010 season, he was relatively new to the coaching game. He had been Offensive Coordinator in Dallas for a few years, and previous to Dallas he was the QB coach for the Dolphins.
That’s not a lot of overall coaching experience.
The Cowboys however have been extremely competitive with him at the helm. This is despite several key injuries during his tenure. That hardly sounds like a coach that is in over his head. His teams have rarely been blown out, and more importantly the players appear to be bought into his coaching style and overall philosophy. There has never been any kind of player backlash towards the coach either (like we saw happen to Wade Phillips).
When Garrett took over in 2010 the team was lacking in young talent. We now have important young stars on both sides of the ball. Although he does not deserve all of the credit for this, his “right kind of players” mantra is working. From where I am sitting his players are playing hard for their coach, and they believe in what he is preaching. None of this would be the case if Garrett did not have a firm grip on his team.
Garrett is known for is bringing in other coaches/leaders to talk to his team. He has even been known to go and visit with other successful coaches from various walks of life (Coach K from Duke to mention one). For what-ever reason he has taken flack for this. I assume this is because flack is easier to give then slack. It does not take much effort to simply criticize everything that someone does. Which is what a lot of analysts essentially get paid to do.
In watching Garrett’s pre-season speech to the team, you get a good look at what he is like around his players. He is a passionate guy who wants his players to go about things the “right way”. He constantly mentions this when talking about guys like Witten, Ware, Lee, and Bryant among others. He wants guys who care, because he cares.
I enjoy watching him interact with his players on the sideline after someone makes a play. I also like the fact that he stays positive after an error. His coaching style allows the Cowboys to stay in games they probably have no business being in.
The fact that Garrett subtly stands his ground against his boss is also a positive characteristic. He is hardly the neutered, lame coach that the media portrays. He has a voice and his voice is heard.
I also believe that Jerry was very wise in giving his coach at least another season to lead this team. They are on the right track. They are the only team in the East that have had a legitimate opportunity to win the Division in the last week of the season for the last 2 seasons. There is something to be said for that. It tells me that they don’t laydown. Instead they stand up and fight until there is nothing left. The team’s competitiveness, regardless of circumstances, is a direct product of their Head Coach.
With that said, Garrett has taken his lumps. He has made mistakes that have cost the Cowboys in the past. Having the responsibility of calling plays, along with his inexperience, affected his decision making at important junctures during games. With him being alleviated of those responsibilities, expect much better game management on his part. There is no doubt that Garrett is a smart man, and there is no reason to believe that he can’t learn from his past transgressions and become a better Coach for it.
If the Cowboys can just find a way to finish a season strong, then they will be a team to be reckoned with for years to come. Here’s hoping that Jason Garrett does enough this year to stick around and keep that “Red” fire burning.