It is amazing how the actions of such a small percentage players have such a profound negative impact on those on the team. The latest brush with the law by Dez Bryant has once again led to a cascade of questions regarding the style of coaching utilized by Jason Garrett.
It is somewhat understandable when Garrett is questioned regarding on field performance, given his position as head coach. Despite not having the privilege of accessing the information necessary to criticize how any individual within the organization operates, making sweeping conclusions based on incomplete information is almost comprehensible since the head coach is primarily responsible for the performance of the team.
In other words, when Tony Romo throws three second half interceptions, something obviously went wrong. Since Jason Garrett is the head coach and offensive coordinator, Garrett must share some degree of responsibility in the outcome of the game and performance of Romo. Another example involved the decision to take a time out prior to attempting a field goal at Arizona. Since the kicker missed the subsequent attempt, the decision to call time out came into question.
But the latter example provided is consistent with the manner in which Jason Garrett operates. As extensively reported, several assistant coaches recommended that Jason call time out as the field goal unit was hurriedly setting up to complete its specialized task. Garrett, who empowers his assistant coaches with decision making ability, respected their opinion and acted accordingly.
Garrett handles himself in a similar professional manner with all aspects of his head coaching responsibilities. Jason will not publicly criticize anyone within the organization (yes, that intelligently includes Jerry Jones - hear that Jimmy?). Considering that Jason has referenced learning from local business leaders, are Garrett's actions straying from the norm?
When is the last time a business has leaked internal issues publicly, independent of a major investigation? It is a proven managerial technique and common practice within the private sector to refrain from exposing internal issues publicly. Similarly, command travels along a well-defined chain in successful organizations. This is similar to Garrett respecting the opinions of his assistant coaches.
Football, however, is not completely akin to business. Aspects of business are present in football, but the emotions that flow and frequently facilitate an athlete's performance would not only hinder a business executive, but would probably lead to legal issues in the workplace.
In reality, the question of whether Jason Garrett should publicly pronounce the players' problems within the organization is truly a question of leadership style within the traditional realm of football. Should coaches lead as a professional executive or as an emotional leader?
Coaches like Bill Parcells, Vince Lombardi, and Hank Stram utilized a wide range of emotions to motivate players and lead their respective teams. Parcells frequently motivated through negative emotions, while Lombardi utilized highly effective motivational methods to build his championship teams.
Rex Ryan is a modern version of those types of emotional coaches (minus the Hall of Fame credentials, of course). Motivational coaches are readily apparent throughout the anals of the NFL.
In the 1980's, however, a new type of coach was rediscovered. Bill Walsh advanced the science of football as much as any of his predecessors with the possible exception of one legendary coach: more on him in a moment. Since Walsh commanded the 49ers and captured several championships, the nature of coaching has changed.
Current head coaches now resemble button-down business executives more than their fire-breathing, Hall of Fame predecessors. Bill Belichick will never be confused with Bill Parcells, despite their obvious coaching connections. Belichick, however, is the only one of three head coaches to win multiple championships in the salary-cap era of the NFL (Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin are the others), and is the leader with three Super Bowl titles and five appearances.
Examine the approaches utilized by Mike Tomlin, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, and Tony Dungy. None of those coaches have publicly criticized individuals within the organization regarding performance on the field. Mike Tomlin dealt with a scandal regarding Ben Roethlisberger much in the same way Jason Garrett has done with Dez Bryant and managed to win a Super Bowl following the poor off field behavior.
Recent winners of Super Bowls have head coaches that parallel the demeanor of Bill Belichick more than Vince Lombardi. In fact, the last highly emotional coach that used the media to his advantage and won a championship may be Jimmy Johnson.
But there was another head coach that developed many innovations and took an intelligent tact to coaching: Tom Landry. Landry is the coach that led his team to the most consecutive playoff seasons in NFL history (the Colts had two different coaches during their equally long streak). Tom was truly a man ahead of his time and defies all comparisons despite the many imitations.
The question remains, however, whether the Cowboys would benefit from a more emotionally charged leader. Hard to argue against the success experienced from head coaches in recent history...
...and Tom Landry.
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