Point-counterpoint. Yin and yang. Unfiltered emotional response versus controlled, rational comments.
Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett are, in some ways, a study in opposites. This is never more evident than when you look at their differing approaches to talking about the Dallas Cowboys. This week, Jones made some very oprimistic statements about the Cowboys and how he thought they were capable of making it to the Super Bowl, after the strong effort they put up in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens. As you might expect, that was one of the first things Garrett was asked about by the press the next time they talked to him.
"We are not focused on that," Garrett said at his Wednesday press conference. "We are focused on meeting Wednesday and preparing for Carolina on Sunday. That is where our emphasis is as players and coaches."
Now, you almost wonder why they bothered asking the question, since the answer was pure, unadulterated Garretspeak. But it also reflects the very different approaches the owner and head coach take to the game.
Actually, the reason for the question is pretty obvious. They would love to stir up a Jerry-Jason conflict. But, folks, it ain't gonna happen. When questioned further about the effect Jones' comments had on the team, Garrett shut that down in a hurry.
"We think Jerry Jones is an outstanding owner. We appreciate everything he does for our football team. But our focus is practicing well today."
No one is going to drive a wedge between the two, especially over something as trivial and expected as some JJ bombast. Both parties here understand just how inextricably their fates are interwoven at this point, and they also understand that they are highly unlikely to find a better deal. Jerry Jones turned to Jason Garrett at a moment of crisis and asked him to rebuild a team that was falling apart before everyone's eyes. No matter how overly confident Jones may be in the Cowboys at any given time, it is certain that he finally realized that his team needed a lot more than a couple of tweaks to return to competitiveness. And even though he wants it right now, I am confident he also knows that it may take a few seasons to really get the franchise restored.
And he believes in Jason Garrett and his approach. I know that we plunge into the depths of despair every time the Cowboys lose, whether in a particularly inept beatdown or by falling just short, but you can still see more than a few hints of a brighter future. The line finally had a good game, Felix Jones looked like a real, live NFL running back, and Dez Bryant looked excellent on all but one throw. The defense has already looked more capable this season despite some uncharacteristic miscues against the Ravens. Remember, this has been done with two drafts and one real offseason. Garrett wants to win every game he can - but he is not going to sacrifice the future for one or two more wins now. He works hard to balance playing the next game and putting together a team that will succeed for years to come. And right now, I think he is doing a pretty good job.
While Jerry Jones looks towards the next round of playoffs every single day, Jason Garrett is properly focused on the next opponent. It is part of the nature of their two roles, on any team, and each of them seems to respect the difference.
Garrett's approach is especially important with a game coming up that everyone expects the Cowboys to win. If there is one thing that is blatantly evident this season, it is that there are no gimmes in the NFL. Only one team is undefeated, the Atlanta Falcons (who are on the schedule for the Cowboys), and every team has notched at least one win. One thing that it is easy to lose perspective on is that anyone who makes an NFL roster is far better at playing football than all but a miniscule number of men on this planet. Even "bad" NFL players have strength, speed, and agility that most of us can only dream about, and in players like Cam Newton, Steve Smith and Luke Kuechly, the Carolina Panthers have some weapons that have to be taken seriously. Any NFL coach has to keep the players focused on the task at hand and not worrying about the maybes and what ifs down the road.
While there are times that Garrett's game decisions and play selection can be questioned, it is very hard to find anything to criticize about the day to day approach he takes and tries to instill in his players. One thing that I have noticed for months now is how the players parrot Garrettspeak. There was another example on Twitter today.
Mackenzy Bernadeau: ‘It was a better game. ... We don’t want to peak right now. ... We don’t want to be a one-game deal.’— Carlos A. Mendez (@calexmendez) October 17, 2012
Bernadeau and the rest of the offensive line, especially Phil Costa, were perhaps the best news to come out of the Ravens game. And his tone, at least, is exactly right, as well as being right out of Garrett's Rules of Football Order. Don't rest on the laurels of a good showing, but look to build on it and carry it forward.
Writers, like the ones asking JG about what his boss said, are just looking for headlines and articles to write. (Yes, so am I.) A rift between owner/general manager and head coach would certainly be a story that would get lots of eyes. Just go Google "Andy Reid" to get an example of what I mean. But they are looking for it here in vain. Jerry Jones will always be making big, sweeping and frequently ill-considered pronouncements. But Jason Garrett will just keep saying as little as possible, no matter how much he talks, and prepare for the next game.
And the next decade.