OK, I admit it. I kind of love Jason Garrett. Something tells me he's the perfect coach for the Cowboys. He is also a de facto GM.
But more about that later.
What got me thinking about Garrett was after reading an excellent O.C.C. post asking whether Jason Garrett would be on the hot seat this coming year. Tom Ryle followed that up with an excellent article, part I of a two part series about the evolution of Jerry Jones as an owner. This dynamic between Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett is one well worth considering. The entire future of the franchise hangs on it.
I too think that Jerry Jones has evolved as an owner. It's been a bit of two steps forward and one step back, though. In fairness to Jones, he created a power house and the rules of free agency helped gut the depth on the roster. The team lost players that mattered and a lot of depth. At that point, Jones started down a long path of using cap space for tomorrow to buy what he wanted today, starting with Neon Sanders.
It's fair to say that when JJ brought in Parcell's he realized how foolish he had been when he said that "500 coaches" could coach the Cowboys and win Super Bowls. But then he hired Coach number 501 on that list when he brought in Wade Phillips.
More after the jump.
But Jones had learned a couple of things from earlier in his career. One was that you don't switch coaches all the time. While the rest of us were wondering what he was waiting for, Jerry Jones kept Wade Phillips on as coach even when it became apparent the team had quit on him. Wade had had that 13-3 season his first year and had won a playoff game the year before. But it wasn't just that. It was that Jerry saw that all the winning franchises had coaching stability.
And, for whatever his flaws, Wade was a very strong Xs and Ox defensive coordinator. He just wasn't a leader.
And let's not forget that Jones didn't fire Parcells. Parcells quit. I have no doubt that Jones would have preferred to have Parcells work with Romo for more than a half a season as a starting QB.
The other thing that Jones has learned is that young guys with character matter and that measurables weren't the be-all-and-end all. He didn't always feel this way. He liked to go after problem children, like TO. He liked to reach on guys with measurables.
Enter Jason Garrett. You have to remember that Garrett has been building a relationship with Jerry and his son for a long, long time. Jerry had specifically brought Garrett in to groom him to be a head coach. In fact, it was a bizarre move that was so Jerry Jones. Before he hired his head coach, Wade Philips, he hired Wade's replacement.
That was Jerry taking one step back. That was Jerry saying (again) that he was the boss, the football guy. Everyone wrote how stupid it was to undermine your head coach before you hired him. Everyone said you need to let the head coach pick his assistants. But Jerry is Jerry. Or he was.
And Wade was Wade. He was a coach without the courage to take a stand on just about anything, including insisting he bring in his own coaches.
When Jerry finally pulled the trigger and fired Wade and brought in his pet cat, it would be easy to assume that Garrett, a young, inexperienced coach would let Jerry Jones run rough shod over him.
But has that happened?
Under Garrett, the Cowboys have had massive turnover in the coaching ranks. Under Garrett, lots of vets have been shown the door. Under Garrett, everyone started talking about the process. Under Garrett, the team started show heart, starting with the way Tony Romo won respect from the entire team last year by playing through cracked ribs.
Suddenly, matador Mike Jenkins was playing through stingers. Everyone on the roster, it seemed, aspired to be the RKG. And even Jerry Jones started talking about "the process."
To say that Jason Garrett has influence would be to state the obvious.
The other thing about this dynamic is that Garrett doesn't crave the media spotlight, the way Parcells and Jimmy Johnson did. Instead, he's happy to make Jerry the spokes person. Garrett makes this all the more possible by speaking almost exclusively in cliches and rarely saying anything remotely controversial or even insightful, quite often. He's Mr. Vanilla.
And yet he brings in Rob Ryan, a man who could probably be the next Governor of someplace like New Jersey if he wanted to. This ability to bring in a coach with a very different personality speaks volumes about the belief Garrett has in himself. It's yet another sign of leadership.
Finally, there's the well-documented (although still not documented as well as we fanatics on BTB would like) relationship between Stephen Jones and Garrett. Like Garrett, Stephen is obviously having more and more influence. For the first time in a long time, we don't seem to be constrained by the salary cap, even when we get hosed by the NFL. In fact, even though we spent like drunk sailors in the off-season, we will have cap room to spare. Really.
It sure seems like the three Caesars have the perfect working relationship. Let Jerry be the front man and drum up enthusiasm. But give him the salary cap flexibility and the roster so that he has something to talk about.
How can that not work? How can filling the roster with RKGs not work? How can the kind of leadership that Garrett has shown not work? Garrett is on his way to becoming an elite coach. He's building the kind of roster that will play well late in the year (I know it hasn't happened yet, but remember, this is a process). He's building the kind of character that will gut out tough wins.
So he's going to win. He's in a very tough division and his best three players are coming to the end. But does anyone doubt he'll win?
I can't see the team quitting on him. I can't see the team losing lots of games unless it's decimated by injuries. In fact, a playoff team is not at all out of the question this year. We will probably have a top ten or may a top five defense, which is astounding, given where we were in 2010 and how poor some of our drafts were post-Parcells and pre-Garrett. The offensive improvement will depend on how well the offensive line comes together. If it does, watch out.
So no, I don't see Jason on the hot seat this year, next year or any year after that. It won't happen. This is the perfect coach for Jerry Jones, one that he has been looking for since he fired Jimmy Johnson.