Garrett's Ghosts Minus One

What do these men have in common?

Minus One's Ernie, second in from the right and extreme right in rightmost photo. Long life, interest in it and happiness to ya, Ernie. Thanks for the memories.

Without being able to read rab's full article (only the excerpt here), which I should before saying any of this as I'm not fully informed otherwise, and without getting into the fullness of something bouncing around my bent and demented skull, something I've been hinting at in various article's comment threads, did you trace the tree to it's roots? Look at the intertwined branchings? Fully consider what this implies in terms of the offensive philosophy debate or points that are discussed hereabouts?

Geez, don't want to do this without reading rab's article, but things being as they are it's unavoidable, and this should be a fuller, more fleshed out and completely researched post. Hell, this started out as a comment in a thread, but got too longwinded, fulla-hot-air ranty. Besides, it'd be an unread tome buried in a dusty cellar. Something fleshed out and making sense more like the quality analysis folks around here do, with charts and play diagrams, freeze-framed screen caps illustrating play details, X/O's, even stats, the works. A reasoned, logical argument proving a point or making a case, but I wearied of that sort of work long ago. Besides, I'm too lazy to go through everything to do that and prefer discussion, give-and-take, the development and correction of individual thoughts to arrive at a sound reasoned supposition or conclusion, find the brainstorming, speak-up-and-be-ready-to-be-hammered-down open free-for-all more advantageous and interesting, even accurate, than one person calling the shots, till it needs to be the one-person-making-the-call time.

Not just the direct HC coaching tree should be considered. And not just Jason Garrett's, but his key subordinates as well. The context here is offensive philosophy, the influences, what it may reveal or indicate with respect to the Cowboys' gameplan, scheming and the like. The Defensive side of the ball is another thing, ancillary yet cooperatively co-existing (when they mesh properly), something on the order of co-joined twins, though ours are of two different personalities, yin-and-yang, emotional and logical, overtly brash and overtly icy calm, and so on. Ahhh, balance. Gotta love it.

Some have mentioned Garrett being influenced by Johnson, Saban, Payton, Turner, et al plus extraneous, even non-football coaching influences, which I'm not nay-saying completely. One thing though, Garrett was here under Johnson for how long? Turner for how long? Saban for how long? Now lets go another route, the Giants years. Fassel, for how long? Where's Fassel fit, given the Denny Green influence and Green back through Walsh? Hmmm, notice anything? Walsh, there's a name I've seen before a time or two. Kinda like this Coryell guy that JG's offense is picking up this "Air Garrett" label with deference to. They ring bells. Great big Liberty-Bell-sized alarm bells. Regular Starship klaxons, if you will.

However, there's 4 years under one Ernie Zampese. Zampese, not Turner, would've been more influential in the nurturing of a budding coaching talent, I'd say. Zampese was one of, and likely the primary, of Norv's tutors with respect to the Gillman offensive philosophy and its Coryell variant. Yep, sure he retained Norv's variant when he took over from his pupil. Why change what's working? Besides, I'd wager he was pleased, maybe even proud, of what his former protégé had accomplished. Trace the tree's branches. Consider the key subordinates. Including, no especially, Garrett's, since he's the HC. Wait a sec, wasn't Houck with the Rams when Zampese... - ehhh, whatever. Notice anything?

Not that I'm saying length of time equates to predominance of influence. I'm not.

Oh, and by the way, who was it that snapped Houck up so quick after the Miami mess? Mighta been after words with this young fella on his staff, but who did it?

Now, relative to Johnson, I'd made the statement "Compared to the withered-branched stunted sapling that is the Jimmy Johnson coaching tree, Jason Garrett’s a leaf on the intertwined and mingled branches of two sequoias." Before jumping, if you're so inclined, read the link, get the context. And I should have said "bud", not "leaf", and possibly made it 3 sequoias. Tripods are stable. And understand, the only reason a certain somebody's not included in that mention of sequoias is he's a unique case (as yet), whose influence and innovation spanned both sides of the ball, blending and influencing the game and having been part of a coaching/management team and, despite the historical classically-defined coaching tree having him suborned within the Owen hierarchy, I have issues (and not) with the classification. It's difficult to slot the man, to ensure biases are not influencing the decision and such. I just leave him as "unto himself", to keep it simple for now. I shouldn't. It's biased and simple laziness avoiding revising coaching trees.

Could this "Air Garrett" offense people refer to be not so much an Air Coryell variant as it is an original West Coast Offense variant? Hmmm... Not the misnomered WCO of Walsh's devising, which was Gillman's WCO with Walsh's twists (I tend to refer to it as WCO (Walsh or Ohio variant)), just as Air Coryell was the original WCO with Coryell's preponderance of passing emphasis, even beyond Gillman. For those that may think Coryell doesn't belong in the Gillman coaching tree due to not professionally coaching under him, I'd suggest looking at Don's days coaching the Aztecs and where he'd go to study up and pick up pointers.

Oh wait, this name. This Gillman guy. Some may not know him as readily as they know the name Lombardi. Or Landry. One Tom Landry. Maybe look into it a bit, if you don't. Where this Gillman fella's travels took him. Whose respect he had and has. Even the guy's personality, see if it reminds you of anyone, see if it contrasts with anyone, see if... - well, there just might be something there worth thinking about. Including who he recommended to Blaik as his replacement at Army, and why. Where that guy's path took him. Who he ran into along the way. Hey, hang on a sec, this Gillman guy, back about '71-'72, wasn't he...? Wasn't that about the time the hump, as in "getting over the", started being beaten level?

Did you know, realize, that Sid influenced Lombardi's "run to daylight" offensive philosophy and thus lead to Tom's development of the Flex D to counter the concept. Intertwined branches, lives, up and down the trees, all along the forest's paths.

Anyways, back to our story ranting lunacy...

This OLine revision, this Garrett/Houck transformation, this single off-season shift (how many expected it to happen, this year, this extensively, how many made that call, down to the names, the changes, each and every one? Beforehand. Last year beforehand, not post-draft.), how significant might it be? Not just in terms of the playing caliber, which has it's own share of debate and rightly so, but in terms of what JG's overall philosophy is. Even just his offensive philosophy, as we're trying to restrict our context, for now.

Where have I seen similar OLines? Coryell's Chargers? Nope, that wasn't it. They were... - different, bigger (before ya jump, remember, be era-relative and know I generalize some when playing free-and-easy), tasked a bit differently. Some place, some Time, where and when agility was a more dominant feature than size with respect to offensive linemen. When they were tasked more with pulling on sweeps, executing cut blocks. Where the RB was often employed as a receiver. Where a mobile QB mattered more than the pure pocket-passer? Hmmm, where was that? Wait a sec, wasn't that something that guy that used to befuddle and irk us through the '80's came up with? That we didn't quite solve till a certain Sunday following the '92 season? Look at the coaches and assistants there, maybe. Notice anything?

Now, don't get all bent outta shape at the terminology I'm going to use here. I'm playing fast and loose. I don't, and in some ways do, mean it specifically and with respect to certain definitions.

If you put all that together, from the coaching philosophy possibilities through the influences, from the line discipline through the gameplan and schemes, from the coaching side of the team to the player side of the team, from Tony being "coached" to being less Favrish, less run-and-shootish (no, I'm not saying Run-and-Shoot, only implying a free-wheeling element of it in his broken-play improvisation that's saved the play more often than not) to more the classic pocket QB (though, he'll always be Tony, thank the stars, he'll always be able to scramble, pull off the pressure-defying plays and stats, maybe even... - well, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, just yet), from the way the backfield's tended to be employed to the blend of talent at the remaining "skill" positions on the Offensive side of the ball, doesn't it siren like a Lorelei to you? Doesn't it ring out, shining, loud and clear, like a trumpet's note, "possibility", "Hope". And yep, I am well aware of the dangers of the Lorelei.

By the way, you want to see a technically ideal QB, in the mold Gillman, Coryell and such prefered, look to Boomer. You want to see the R&S ideal QB, look to Moon.

Yep, all this despite a quote by Aikman about Norv being so influential to Garrett. Despite a quote by Garrett about Coryell being able to recognize elements of the current playbook (naturally, who'd've thought otherwise looking at the influences, at the coaching lineages involved).

Let's see. Gillman, Coryell, Zampese, Turner, Garrett. Gillman, Walsh, Green, Fassel, Garrett. Gillman, Coryell, Zampese, Houck. Keep running with that. Then go for some balanced attack. Who's this Landry guy whose name popped up? The one guy, this exceptional exception, Gillman's quote below sure doesn't apply to. And does. The Chairman of the Board Innovator. Oops, wait, let's save that for the defensive context of this discussion. Nahhh, seems the man had a touch of talented insight on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Now that's being on the ball.

Could it be there's some blending, some unification or splicing of the varied branches of these sequoias, these forest giants, happening right under our noses? Right before our eyes? Could Sid's brash blunt-spokenness and Tom's internally-boiling cool be akin to what we see in our current OC and DC? Could the meticulous preparation and research of those two giants be evidenced in this HC we now have? In any of his subordinates? Could it be formally subordinates, but more behaving like a team informally? Could this DC's defense prove as irksome to opposing OC's as a Flexed dare ya? Could this OC's maybe-blending of fundamental offshoots of a significantly landscape-altering offensive philosophy prove as problematic to opposing DC's? Time'll tell.

Could, overall, when both sides of the ball are considered, when the quality and experience and variety and such of the subordinate staff are considered, when Time has given us evidence, could we be witnessing something, not necessarily in longevity terms (times have changed, the landscape's different and so much more), but in Grand Unification theoretical terms, could we be witnessing something along the lines of Landryesque? Comparable to Walsh spanning the Gillman/Brown trees? Only Time'll tell. And for cripes sake, I am not making that comparison, either of them. Not by a long shot. Merely suggesting a possibility to keep an eye on.

And for the sake of the Hall of Fame's integrity, get those last two guys in the photos above inducted. Yeah, those two, third from the right, second from the right and then together (center and right) in the final photo.

So, because I'm too lazy to spell it out, to waste more time in being quite possibly so very very Just Plain Wrong or to simply give you some research material, I'll leave you with some quotes to key the research on (if you're so inclined, want to learn, want to read interesting stuff and the like).

"There are two types of coaches, the Innovator and the Chairman of the Board. The Chairman of the Board stands on the sidelines with his arms folded. He knows nothing about what's going on, on the field. If the offensive coordinator left him, he wouldn't know which way to turn. He doesn't wear a headset. Without a headset a coach doesn't know borscht. He'll never make a decision, except maybe whether to go for it on fourth-and-one.

The other guy, the Innovator, has a headset on and a chart in front of him. He's constantly looking at his chart. He's got everything calculated because he's the guy who has put everything together. He calls everything."
- Sid Gillman
"Much of what I did I got from Sid Gillman 20 years ago." - Bill Walsh

And some charts: (warning: they're large)
Not that I agree completely with these, but they are interesting, reasonably accurate, though primarily direct-subordinate-based rather than "influences".
The Forest (circa 2008)
Gillman coaching tree
Brown coaching tree
Owen coaching tree

And some articles:
NFL Coaching Tree pt. 1 (2008)
NFL Coaching Tree pt. 2 (2008)

WCO: don't assume and primarily college-based, but recommended reading
West Coast Offense
West Coast Offense - The Naked Bootleg
A non-Walsh WCO coming to SF (light reading comparison article)

You may find the results, if not the investigation, interesting. Keep going, There's more, much more to the story. Always is.

Ya know, I'm not one for buying into mystical mumbo-jumbo. Used to be a pretty hardcore "just the facts, Ma'am", by-the-numbers kinda guy. Still am. Somewhat. Suspicious. Cynical. Show me. The works. Yeah, despite how you might preceive me here, despite how I give the stats guys a poke now and again, despite how I flip and nay-say the blindly optimisitic homers. But I just got this feeling I can't shake...

Maybe Time and experience clued me into just paying a bit more mind to the Bard's "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy" wisdom. What little I've left, that is. Mind, I mean.

Must be a symptom of Hope. Maybe Love. Maybe both. Feelings? How do you feel? Illogical, like me?

Lieutenant, have you ever piloted a Starship out of space dock?
Never, sir.
Take her out, Mr. Saavik Garrett.
Yes, sir.
For everything there is a first time, Lieutenant. Don't you agree, Admiral Jerry?

One thing I'm big on is first times. Big on preparing the next wave to take the reins. To assume the center seat. To grow.

Anyways, back to the point, if there is one. Not much for telling folks what's what. Who am I to say, to judge? Plus, learning's best done by experience, by running with the ball, so to speak. By researching it, looking into it, studying. For yourself. By doing. We learn by doing. Something else I'm real big on. By making mistakes. Something I'm real good at. Plenty of practice. So there's your hints. There's a glimpse at the rattles in my skull. The loose gears. The mouse running off the wheel.

Because all this, the coaching tree/influences thing this started off concerning, the philosophy part of it, the history, the blending or coming together of so many aspects of what we witness going on in front of us today, it's too complicated for a simpleton like me. I need help. In more senses than one.

Because I learn from others. Even some of you. All of you. Some more, some less. And maybe, just maybe, if I'm lucky, I might even play a part in... - Nah, that's just lunacy.

So please, if ya see this whole coaching/philosophy/gameplan/influences thing is Just Plain Wrong, hammer me down. Have at 'er. If ya see some part of the fleshing out and wanna teach me, contribute, partake in teamwork, whatever, please do. I welcome the mouse-resetting smack upside the head. If ya just want to have your say, likewise. Just please, be prepared to be set straight, or not, by others.

Yep, no telling where, with a little enterprise, a smidgen of hope, a pile of hard work, one might end up. Perhaps Indianapolis. Perhaps the future. No, not right, definitely the Future. No telling what those things might garner ya, what ya might earn, what ya might achieve.

Seems to have cleared a bit, this storm, this tempest. Might just be the eye (which? the storm's or the one ya see with? the outer or the inner? the "I", perhaps? the wee ("We"?) eye?). Maybe weather's clearing some. Maybe not. One thing's for sure though, wait a bit, it'll ebb and flow, clear and cloud over, come and go, just as it always has, always does. Simply the nature of Balance and the balance of Nature.


But me, being as I can see up there, see the dim light of a star glinting (what is it they call stars again, something different yet the same, something brighter, more blindingly powerful if ya look closer or from a different perspective? Oh yeah. Suns. Brilliant.):

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

What's that tune I hear whispered on the wind?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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