It’s odd that some of us have to preface our articles with warnings before posting. Nevertheless, I will not be bucking that trend today- I was a Jason Garrett supporter. There, I’ve said it.
In my first Fanpost, I’ve decided to go on a little narrative that I’ve rarely seen around. That is that the team adopts the mentality/personality of their (in particular) head coach.
Look around the league at the coaches present. Many, if not all, are alpha males-the top dog. However, when they get into the NFL, from other leagues, college etc, they soon realise that everyone has the same mentality/personality. A lot are quite controlling and imposing. One only has to look at teams of yesteryear, let alone today to see this. Bill Parcells fits this particular narrative to a tee. It’s not just old school coaches either. I see this in Jim Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, Mike Shanahan, and of course, Bill Belichick, among many others.
Now, one thing that you could say about the aforementioned coaches is that they are street smart and hard as nails-not only would you not want to cross them on the team side of things, but they would be imposing in any situation. Contrast that to Jason Garrett. I feel that he has definitely identified the culture within the cowboys that needs to change (whether or not it will is a different story altogether). His implementation of this is admirable. However, it will not work.
He is simply a fighter-has been all his life. He was a mediocre quarterback with one big day on his resume. Even Garrett himself will freely admit this. However, this sort of mentality will only get you so far. Believing you are mediocre, will lead you to mediocrity. The power of intention is intentionally all powerful. This, in itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In Dallas, we have been treated to championships as the norm. Looking across the league, this sort of success is an aberration. There are only a handful of other teams who have had as much success as we have. The qualities you see from this team, when observed objectively are very much representative of this.
Under Garrett, we rarely get blown out. In fact, in a majority of games, we are well within reach of a win. That is definitely a positive. As many have pointed out, in this era of parity, you will get close games and close games are equivalent to a flip of the coin. The problem arises, however, in that we don’t blow any teams out. Garrett simply doesn’t have that edge. It’s not a part of his make-up. Hence, neither do the Cowboys. For example, the last blow-out win (more than 2 scores) we recorded against an opposition was against the Rams. For some reason, we have the wood over them (or more to the point, Demarco Murray does). That was in week 3. We’ve only had a couple of other blowout wins in the last 3 seasons combined!
Even looking at this on the micro level i.e. in game, we can’t seem to get that big play when we need it. In fact, it’s extremely unnatural for Garrett to be able to call an ultra aggressive play-the "killshot" if you will, that will put teams away, and actually have it come off. We saw this in 2011 when Tony overthrew Miles Austin/Miles underran it. We saw it on the weekend when they decided to pass the game out despite being 3 scores ahead. Someone with a ruthless streak would have mixed in some running and passing into the second half, allowing their team to impose their will and run it down the opposition’s throat. Garrett was too busy being confused with being a clever co-ordinator, one that isn’t predictable. In fact, it’s turned out the opposite. Garrett is predictable in his unpredictability. In fact, Garrett’s offense is immensely predictable. And it doesn’t impose their will (or try to) on an opposition at all. In fact, it allows the defense to dictate everything.
Even the defense, which isn’t strictly under Garrett’s domain, will allow the opposition back into it. We have had record breaking defeats which we have snatched from the jaws of victory. The opener against the Jets in 2011, the aforementioned Giants game that same year, this year alone we’ve had Denver, Detroit and Green Bay all within the space of half a season win games they shouldn’t have. Getting your team in a position to win is a big part of this league. As mentioned before, these games can go 50/50. But Being more than two scores up by half-time should just about be a guaranteed recipe for winning. Except, with the Cowboys, it’s not.
In summary, I think that Garrett has produced a commendable effort. His work on the O-line has only just come into fruition (and I doubt whether he will be in Dallas long enough to see it’s true potential). He is in the process of trying to improve the secondary, and I can only imagine that this coming off-season will be one focussed on the D-line. Having said that, though, I sincerely doubt whether or not Garrett has the personality to not only demand the best from his players, but to receive it two-fold. He is a personnel man, as many have stated before. The Cowboys need someone who can impose his will on this team, mould them into any shape he wishes and in turn allow the team to do that to the opposition. Anything short of that will leave the Cowboys mired in mediocrity. The proof is in the pudding.