First, if you have not taken time to watch the video of Jason Garrett's address to the Dallas Cowboys at the start of training camp, you need to go and do that now. There are already over 10,000 views (two were mine) and you don't want to be left out. This needs to be mandatory viewing for all Cowboys fans. Not only as a fan, either. There are some words of wisdom for all of us in that speech.
There are also some other words that rather shocked a lot of people. We got to see the Jason Garrett that exists behind the facade he maintains for the press. A man with fire, passion, and a sometimes colorful vocabulary. Most of the reactions to the video, like Rainer Sabin's take for the Dallas Morning News, focus on how different the coach seemed. However, I really didn't see it that way. Outside of the multiple F-bombs, this was not that much of a surprise. Sabin did make brief mention of the key thing that struck me.
In the 35-minute clip posted Monday, he was forceful, passionate and often colorful, using expletives on occasion when emphasizing his points - many of which have dovetailed with the dull comments he has made in news conferences during the previous 2 1/2 seasons. (Emphasis added)
Outside of a few specific details, such as the Apple commercial the team used to start the OTAs, I sort of knew all this about Garrett. One thing I have noticed about him is that if you really listen to what he says, and can do a little translation from time to time to sort through his unique Garrett-speak, he will tell you what he really thinks. (He shares these traits with his boss, Jerry Jones, although Jerry-speak is far, far harder to interpret.) And he is the kind of guy that will hammer the same points over and over to make sure there is absolutely no way to miss what he is trying to get across.
But here, for the first time, it was all put together. The whole package was laid out. In the first twenty minutes or so, he explained, with some passion, his entire philosophy. What he has referred to as the Cowboy Way, but which, as Dawn Macelli said in one of her fanposts, might more accurately be called the Way of the Rooster. Because this is how he believes it should be done, anywhere, anytime, and doing anything at which you want to truly succeed.
Passion. Being the best you can. And understanding that this is not about individuals, it is about the team. More than once, he talks about how hard it is to get to the NFL and the Cowboys, and what a special thing that is. Making the team is only going to happen if it is the best thing for the team. The team will try to do what is best for the players, but they have to earn their place there.
And once you have a place, once you get that Star on your helmet, you will be held to high standards. Brand new UDFA or the most experienced veteran, you are expected to put your best on the field, and you had better be doing everything you can to improve. One of my favorite parts was where he told the players that it didn't matter who you were, you were going to get coached.
There were some things that sounded like he was addressing specific things. Talking about how the players all have personal issues that they have to deal with sounded a lot like he was trying to head off the kinds of issues that Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith had last year - and maybe stop another Josh Brent situation before it becomes a tragedy.
But most of this was just the message that has been presented since he first got the head coaching job in mid-season, and he probably gave similar talks the past two years. That message has been consistent if you listened to him. Just as he talked about not wanting to see a player flash, and then not do anything for the next ten plays, he does not just trot this out once or twice a year. He may only put it all together a few times, but the components of this message are being preached day in and day out.
If the camp to date is any indication, the team is taking this stuff to heart. Garrett talked about mirroring the player in your position when you are not on the field, and there have been comments in Twitter about players doing just that. He talked about finishing the play, and that is being done on the field. Garrett has called the tune, and the team is dancing to it. Even some of the more skeptical reporters are noticing it.
Asked about his goals this season, Dez Bryant said, "I feel like it’s all about putting days together." Think he listens to Jason Garrett?— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 24, 2013
Of course, there has been the inevitable speculation about whose initiative it was to put the video out, and Garrett has indicated it was not entirely his idea. But in this case, if he got overridden on this, it was done for his own good. This showed how consistent and genuine his message is. It shows how he is able to communicate clearly what he expects, and what will not be tolerated. Above all, it shows a focus on winning football games.
It also keeps coming back to the pride of being a Cowboy, and of the players doing their absolute best to earn that privilege and help the team win. It talks about what everyone needs to do, every minute.
There is no magic here. Frankly, most of what he says is undoubtedly similar to what every head coach in the league says. But he really says it with some conviction, and with his background, you know this is more than just talking the talk. What this does is reveal the Jason Garrett that many never believed was there, a coach in charge of this team, with the respect of his players, and with confidence oozing from every pore. The Jason Garrett a few of us have known about from day one. We believed in him because we took the time to hear what he was saying.
Now everyone can hear him. For those that listen, there is something to learn.