Yesterday, we posted a session of What They're Saying focusing on the actual gameplay of the Cowboys after their shocking win over the Giants. Since this was such a big victory for Dallas, we're going to do a Part II, focusing on Jason Garrett and some of the off-the-field stuff.
Let's start with one of my personal favorite moves made by Garrett in the week leading up to the game. I'm talking about putting the team in full pads on Wednesday. Nothing will wake up a team faster than a full-pads practice in the middle of November. It's not an every week tonic although Garrett may choose to keep doing it, but for one week, it was a nice slap in the face for the players. Apparently, it worked.
Garrett's policy of full-pads practices on Wednesday are here to stay. Early returns are positive.
"I think it helped us," guard Leonard Davis said. "Having the feeling of being in the full gear, it's basically the same as you have in the game. I think we definitely ran the ball better than we have been, and to be able to finish the game like we did really says a lot. It kind of makes a statement."
If all it takes to run the ball better is a full-pads practice, I'm sure we're all for it. But, the Cowboys need to translate whatever they did to a weekly occurrence during the games, without all the energy and buzz created by a coaching change the previous week. Being professional football players means acting professional, and that's getting your job done even when there is no extra motivation to draw on.
It wasn't just the running game that benefited from the improved play of the offensive line, the passing game was able to explode, too. And that's without a lot of damage to Jon Kitna. He appreciated it.
"Again, it goes back to making plays," Kitna said. "We made plays that we haven’t been making in the first two games. We get to know each other better and things like that, and I am a different quarterback than Tony. So I think guys are understanding that, too.
"But when the offensive line plays like they played (Sunday), the quarterback position becomes fairly simple. When they play like that, we have a chance to be pretty explosive."
He may be gone, and he may have made the Cowboys fanbase red with anger, but Wade Phillips went out with class. He continues to show that class with these comments about Sunday's game.
"I'm so proud of the guys, and I'm talking about my coaches and all my players," he said in an interview after a charity breakfast. Phillips, who was beaming at the performance, said he watched the victory over the New York Giants at his home, adding "No, I didn't go to New York." "We needed a win," he said. "It doesn't absolve everything, but it was a win. And that's what's great about football."
Jason Garrett has made a lot of changes in how the Cowboys do things. Including the way they dress. By now you know about the ties and slacks and dress shoes, etc. that the Cowboys players must wear to and from games. Unfortunately, Marion Barber didn't get the memo and violated the dress code. Not really a big deal, but the way Jason Garrett handled it with the press is excellent. When asked about the Barber incident on Sunday, he said "No" to any hints of a violation. On Monday, he was more forthcoming, but managed to channel his inner-Parcells in managing the press.
"We’re just going to handle those things in-house," Garrett said when asked about public accountability. "We handle them in-house. Players understand what the expectations are and what the parameters are and we’ll handle them. We’ll handle them with the consequences that we think are right. We’re going to keep that in-house."
[When pressed on the issue]
"We’re going to spend a lot of time on this, aren’t we?" Garrett snapped after a follow-up question. "This is how we’re going to handle these situations: We’re going to handle them in-house going forward. Does everybody kind of understand that?
"What we’re going to do for our players is we’re going to lay out the expectations, and if they don’t meet those expectations, we’re going to handle them in-house. We’re not going to talk about them publicly. OK, does everybody got that going forward?"
We got it.
Since we covered Stephen Bowen's ascension to starter and his eight-week audition at defensive end for 2011 earlier in the week, we have to note that Bowen made on of the biggest plays of the game. It's not exactly the traditional way of making a big play, but it meant everything to Dallas. The Giants thought they had just completed a bomb for a touchdown to Hakeem Nicks, and were truly grabbing the momentum of the game. Not so fast, my friends. Holding on the Giants, courtesy of Stephen Bowen's pass rush.
``I knew he grabbed me,'' Bowen said. ``He tackled me. I was looking at the ref to make sure he threw the flag. The whole crowd was yelling, but I said ``No, no, no, no.' ''
And we say yes, yes, yes, yes. Good job Bowen.
Let's get to the big man, Jerry Jones. He was excited, but cautionary.
"I hope it's a good feeling for our fans," owner Jerry Jones said. "Don't think that I think for one minute it's a consolation for how we have stunk it up this year. It is not. It's just a way for us to get going.
"I really don't want to make more of it. This was a big win for us, a particular big win under the circumstances, the criticism. It's just a little baby step to where we've got to get to."
"This isn't exactly winning the playoff ring year, this isn't winning the NFC Championship Game," Jones said. "But in a way it gives us something to be positive about. And again, I'm not expecting our fans (to celebrate) at all, because I know we've been a disappointment."
After the major disappointment that is the 2010 season, we're going to go ahead and celebrate this win a little, Mr. Jones. Lord knows we deserve it. Besides, Jay Ratliff says so.
"Lately, we haven't had much to feel good about around here," nose tackle Jay Ratliff said. "This is huge. "We have something to build on now."
Let's give the last word to coach Jason Garrett. What did this victory mean for his chances of remaining the Cowboys head coach in 2011? You might guess at how he answered that question.
"Not really something that's even in my consciousness right now. Talking about being focused on the day, I'm focused on today. I'm focused on Monday, how we evaluate things coming out of that ball game, how we get ready for the Detroit Lions coming up this week."
What time and where is that Lions game, Coach Garrett?