In the middle of the silly season, Jason Garrett steps in as a voice of reason.
While rampant speculation and vociferous argument about the Dallas Cowboys can be fun, it can also be a bit tiring after a while, especially when actual hard news is so limited. As the contentious debate continues about the franchise tag that excites so many emotions, and new rumors spring up to start new disputes, it is nice to sometimes get a dose of equanimity.
That's one of the reasons I like Jason Garrett. He seems to be very calm and balanced while all about him are losing their composure. He has just said some things about the recent events that have us fans all stirred up. While he usually spends as much time withholding information as imparting it, in this case he actually said some very reasonable things.
Among the many concerns swirling around the use of the franchise tag this week is the old question of just who is making the decisions about the team. In a Calvin Watkins article at ESPN Dallas, JG certainly sounds like he was driving the train on this one.
"So we had that ability to use the franchise tag and we're excited to use it in his situation and excited to have him back and be a part of what our defense is going to be."
A look at his reasons, and some other topics, after the jump.
Maybe Jason has been paying attention to all the discussions out here in the blogosphere about what Anthony Spencer is really worth, because he lays out a pretty good version of the "It's-not-all-about-sacks" argument.
"If you watch Spence play down-in-and-down out when he plays the run and he rushes the passer or covers in the passing game he does things really well and he does them easily," Garrett said. "We look at production and we look at how he produces week in and week out and it's more than just sacks. It's like some of the other things I was talking about. He shows up in games. He was an outstanding player on our team [in] two or three of the wins we had this year. A guy who shows up on defense, a guy who shows up on special teams -- he blocked a field goal. He's just one of those guys that's productive and production happens in a lot of different ways."
While I am sure this will not lay to rest an argument that is almost as energizing as the one about whether Tony Romo is the quarterback to take the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl, it does give a fairly good explanation of what the thought process behind the tag was.
On a much smaller scale, a bit of controversy arose over some comments from Keith Brooking about possibly returning to play in 2012. As ESPN said, quoting Brooking in a TV interview, the Cowboys have apparently spoken to Keith's agent about the possibility of him coming back for at least one more season. But when asked about that, Jason made it sound a lot less solid.
The Cowboys held a brief discussion with Brooking's agent, Pat Dye, about him returning. Brooking called the talk about him returning in 2012 "speculative at this time."
So what about Garrett?
"We are certainly pleased [about] what Brooking has done for our football team since he's been here," Garrett said. "But we have a lot of decisions we have to make. We don't have to make those specific decisions right now. As we go forward in the offseason, we'll figure out how the rest of our team fits together, guys under contract and the free agents that were on our team last year. We'll just go through the process."
It's kind of funny, that "speculative" thing didn't seem to show up in some of the other reports about Brooking. And you just knew that "the process" was going to show up at some point.
The main thing, at least to me, is that this is not a firm offer or anything, just a little exploratory inquiry. Given the likely focus on the $8.8 million decision just made, there are undoubtedly a bunch of things the team is just now getting a chance to examine more closely.
JG also got asked about the bounty hunting story coming out of New Orleans. With the growing speculation about punishment for the Saints that may include draft picks and some serious fines, the concern has spread around the league about which other teams may have similar practices. This got a little close to home when former Cowboys great Darren Woodson talked about a pool that the defensive players had for "highlight hits". While Woodson has seemed to clarify that the money was designed as a reward for team members who stood out, not as a "bounty" for hurting opposing players. Jason, who was with the team as a backup quarterback at the same time, was apparently unaware of it at all.
"I can't speak to that (Woodson's) comment,'' Garrett said. "I've never been on a team where there has been anything that has been systematic or standing in meetings, doing anything like that.''
Woodson also confirmed that the Dallas coaching staff was uninvolved back in the day. It certainly seems like the kind of thing that Garrett would be smart enough to stay completely away from, so I think we can be hopeful that this scandal will not affect the Cowboys.
At the end of the article, Jason may also have tipped the real reason he was not aware of such things.
So, did Garrett ever feel there was a bounty on his head when he played?
"I wasn't good enough to bounty,'' he said. "They didn't know who I was.''
I bet he was grinning when he said that.