Cowboys Coaches: Fighting For Their Lives

Jim McIsaac

The next two weeks will be the most important time in Jason Garrett's tenure as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

As the Dallas Cowboys (and their fans) attempt to recover from the devastating Sunday night loss to the New Orleans Saints, this Cowboys coaching staff faces a major challenge. When teams lose games the way this team lost to the Saints, the coaching staff has to find ways to keep the players invested.

Most times when teams face this situation, they have only 24 or 48 hours to think about what happened before the focus must shift to the next opponent, however this team is running into a bye week. The bye leaves the team with Thursday through Sunday off. This creates the major struggle for this coaching staff, having to fight to keep their players bought in to the message they are trying to get across.

In this day and age, between Twitter and Facebook, players have more interaction with fans than ever before, and between traditional media, and places like Blogging The Boys there are literally dozens of outlets that follow and report on the Cowboys every move, highlighting each of their shortcomings and misgivings. This overflow of information and access to players creates an even more precarious situation for this coaching staff. If the players hear all week about how horrible they played, and how the defense is on pace to give up more yards than any other defense has... EVER, and that they don't have much chance to get much better because of all the injuries, or if they read about how Tony Romo isn't playing very well, and that the coaching staff needs to do a better job of getting the football in the hands of Dez Bryant, or that they don't have balance or any of the other prevailing story lines in the world of Cowboy media/fandom, they might just start to believe them.

If this occurs prepare for the worst, Cowboy fans, because if the team starts to believe that narrative as opposed to the one that Garrett, Kiffin, Callahan, and Marinelli are selling, this season could get ugly, fast. They could lose five out of the last six to finish 6-10 and wind up with a brand new collection of Cowboys coaches, seeking to put their imprint on this organization. However, if Garrett is able to keep his players engaged in the mission, with the focus remaining on the task at hand (Garretism) and help them get better, it might just save his job after all. Generally teams use bye weeks to analyze and evaluate their different position groups, making decisions along the way to try to help push their groups to the next level. For Garrett, the decisions made during this week and next, regarding personnel, scheme, and coaching issues will all be some of the biggest, most important decisions he will ever make.

For all of these reasons I expect to see Jason Garrett carrying a large laminated sheet of paper in his hand as he takes the sideline on November 23rd at AT&T stadium, preparing to do what he did here for three and a half years that earned him the right to call himself the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and that is calling offensive plays. At this point, he understands what this defense is, he knows that they aren't likely to get a ton of stops week to week that aren't turnovers, and with that knowledge comes another piece; Jason Garrett's livelihood, and his tenure as head coach rely on the performance of this offense over the next six games, and if I were him, I'd want the steering wheel of that offense back in my hands.

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