Remember the chic political term "gravitas"? It was the "in" journalistic word among campaign correspondents a couple of years ago. It was overused, underdefined, and usually written or said with an irritating smugness.
While my intent is always to be neither smug nor irritating, Jason Garrett has it. That word. That trait. That quality. And it's that personal presence and air of competence and credibility that has moved JG to the brink of securing the job he wants, if indeed he hasn't done so already. Garrett said his stint as interim coach would not be a personal audition. It has been, of course, and while he still has four more challenging "scenes" to add to his audition reel, Garrett is unlikely to flub his lines or miss his marks. Four weeks ago it appeared (to me, certainly) that Garrett was polishing up his resume for his next employer and destination. Now, based on his performance and carriage to date, JG looks right at home.
Coaching is just people management. It's about creating an environment in which others' talents can be maximized and showcased. Jason Garrett --so far---is restoring the shine to the star. And isn't that what we as fans want, really more than anything else?
On Thanksgiving, Garrett coolly guided his team back from an early 17-0 deficit. That game ultimately was lost, but a new composure and competitiveness was evident on the 2010 Dallas Cowboys. Sunday in Indianapolis, Garrett kept his team together after it gave back an early 17-0 advantage. This time, victory was the reward, along with plenty of motivation to attack the remaining month of the season.
Clearly Garrett has...that word.
Tashard Choice has an "it' factor of his own. So impressive was his performance from scrimmage yesterday that Jerry Jones now says maybe Tashard doesn't have to be a special teams ace to earn more playing time. Seems the Boss Man liked Choice's 19-carry, 100-yard day that boosted the 'Boys to a season high 217 team rushing yards. The day's first touchdown--that clever misdirection pitch to Choice for 20 yards and a score--framed both Tashard's explosiveness and Garrett' rediscovered creativity as a play-caller. Count me among those who consider Choice the best all-around back on the Dallas roster. If yesterday was an "audition," for Tashard, he nailed it.
There are challenges ahead, starting with the first of two remaining meetings with the Eagles next Sunday night in Arlington. And those challenges must now be faced without Dez Bryant. But the 'Boys are now playing with an eagerness, an aggressiveness, and a level of preparation that were completely absent at 1-7. Coaching matters. Leadership matters.
The Cowboys collectively are now displaying...that word.
The first thing a successful NFL team must do is win the games it's supposed to win. And isn't it evident that Sunday in Indy was exactly that--a game the Cowboys should have won and were supposed to win? Dallas, right now, is flat-out better than Indianapolis. Imagine how insane that statement would have been four weeks ago. But Dallas can run the football. Indy can't. The Cowboys' run defense is improving toward what we all thought it would be when the season started. Indy allows more yardage per rush than any other NFL defense. And--right now--the Dallas quarterback is better than the Indianapolis quarterback.
It'll be a strange close to a strange Cowboy season. But there's now reason to anticipate a "good" strange.