On November 8th, 2010, Jason Garrett stood in front of the team for the first time as the interim head coach. A team that was 1-7 and had just been mauled 45-7 in Green Bay sat in a room unsure of their immediate future.
Amidst the uncertainty swirling around the room, a sense of uneasiness likely enveloped everyone associated with the Cowboys. Despite the players' familiarity with Jason Garrett, there were certainly going to be changes affecting the livelihood of many.
The opportunity to establish the new order and outlining expectations for those fortunate enough to be wearing a star was never going to be better. Anxiety surely piqued the attention of all.
Here is what happened according to Jesse Holley as paraphrased from his post game radio show on 105.3 last night:
You think Garrett was responsible for getting the players to play harder after starting 1-7? That was Jerry Jones who stood in front of the players and let us know that he would be reevaluating everyone and that nobody would just be collecting a paycheck.
While likely well intentioned, Jerry neutered Garrett's authority with the players within 24 hours of appointing him "in charge". The perfect moment to let Jason establish himself in front of the team was stolen by the ever intrusive owner/GM/ and President of the team.
Holley's comments also revealed much of what has ailed the Cowboys in the recent past, although it was likely not his intention for his words to be scrutinized intelligently. Summarizing some of what Jesse noted pointed the blame squarely upon the two distinct areas that truly were at fault within the Cowboys organization.
Players need a leader that they will follow unquestionably. The players need a leader that will motivate them to run through a wall without question. There cannot be any question as to the leadership capability of the coach.
Do professionals being paid at least hundreds of thousands of dollars need motivation to prepare themselves fully to play a game? It seems that certain players, such as Ware, Lee, Witten, Romo, and Bryant do not need motivation and have few, if any issues with leadership.
The comment does implicate marginally talented players as individuals that latch on to excuses to avoid placing the responsibility for their less than stellar performance on themselves. Regardless, there is a hint that the absence of a clear leadership structure affects players that lack the pride and professionalism to reach their full potential.
Considering that it is likely that most players are not the Kind of Guys that can be compared to Witten and Lee, a strong leader on the sidelines may be necessary. When reports of play calling responsibilities being stripped from the head coach consume the off season, the leadership of the team is questioned by fans and players alike.
Having the owner/GM/ and President intimately involved in the hiring of coaches serving as assistants to the head coach undermines the authority of the coach supposedly in charge of coaching decisions. It seems obvious that Jason was not responsible for firing his brother. That is a hiring and firing model that is not found anywhere in Fortune 500 companies.
The comments section below will likely resemble a grocery list of examples of the owner/GM/and President of the organization sabotaging the authority of others through decisions best made by those that are supposed to be in command of that area. Despite the needs of the players for simplicity in organizational structure, forays by the one truly in charge consistently negatively impacts those chosen by the true boss to perform their jobs.
This criticism is not novel, but has run its course as expected. The Cowboys finished 8-8 for the third consecutive season.
While older players provide experience, they also have a propensity for getting injured. Players in their thirties, such as Ware, Romo, and Waters missed time due to injury in 2013, and there is no guarantee that they will survive an entire season in 2014.
Some younger players, such as Claiborne, Lee and Murray have also demonstrated a checkered injury history. Pro Bowler Dez Bryant may require off season surgery for his back pain.
Dallas would be wise to part ways with Ware ($16 million cap hit if on the team, but only counts $8 million against the cap if cut before June 1st), and permit the elderly Hatcher and Spencer to leave as unrestricted free agents. That would leave Dallas with George Selvie as the only returning defensive lineman that started in 2013 and recorded several sacks.
The individual responsible for restocking the cupboards also spends his time making coaching decisions and marketing the team in an effort to provide a great show. Phineas Taylor Barnum once uttered, "There's a sucker born every minute."
Perhaps Jerry the showman knows that most of them cheer for the Cowboys, and that a simple slight of hand is enough to absolve him of blame.