One of the events that took place on Saturday night gave the Rooster a good reason to crow at one of his flock, but did he do the right thing?
One of the commonly preached aspects of The Way of the Rooster is accountability up and down the roster. From his first press conference after taking the reigns from Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season, Jason Garrett has seemingly stressed this point in every sermon he has delivered. On Saturday night, DeMarco Murray learned the hard way about what that means. A first quarter fumble inside the Cowboys own 10 yard line, coming on the heels of a six turnover game in Arizona, gave Garrett an opportunity to send a message that everyone on the roster will be taken to task for his performance. Jason Garrett benched his starting running back. On Monday the coach had this to say:
"You can’t hand the ball to a guy who is going to fumble, OK?" Garrett said Monday. "Those should be safe plays, control-the-game-type plays. If the ball comes out we really don’t have a chance to be a good football team."
Jason also added that the fumble wasn't the only reason Murray was given some "pine time." He also missed his assignment on the first offensive play of the game and gave up a sack of Tony Romo.
It was a bold move made by a man who is really coming into his own as the leader of the Dallas Cowboys, but for Murray, it was a move that he found to be a little frustrating.
First, it must be made clear that there is no looming Jason Garrett/DeMarco Murray rift looming over the 2013 season. Murray made that clear immediately when he finally spoke about being benched.
"He made the decision, and hey, I’m a team player so I respect the decision," Murray said. "He’s a smart coach. Great coach. I’m always gonna be behind him. Whatever is best for the team, I’m all for it."
Murray did go on to add, however; that he did not feel that he needed to be benched to get his attention.
"I made a mistake and I can’t let that happen," Murray said. "No one needs to motivate me. I know how to motivate myself."
DeMarco Murray admitted that he found the whole situation to be frustrating as he waited on the sidelines for his number to be called once again. Giving us a little insight to what was going on in his mind, the third year pro says that he let the whole thing "marinate" in his mind while he watched teammate Phillip Tanner get the carries that should have been his. He added that he was not mad at anyone or pouting on the sides as he waited for a second chance. Regardless of what he actually thought at the time; Murray did return to the field and once back out there he played with a chip on his shoulder. Over at the mothership we have this quote from Jason Garrett:
"I thought he did a good job. He’s a pro, and he’s a damn good football player," Garrett said. "You can’t let not taking care of the football when you’re a running back diminish you as a player. And he’s just not going to do that – he’s not going to put the ball on the ground. I thought he responded well to it."
Jerry Jones seems to be on board with Garrett's actions and he was pleased with the effect it had on Murray:
"There is no question that we had a little in-house resolve about what we would do if we should turn the ball over, and I think he came back with that resolve," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "I still think he had an attitude after he finished that third quarter. I think he still had an attitude when he hid over there, but I think Jason’s making a point."
I will add that when he was asked, Jason Garrett refused to rule out the use of benching tactics during the regular season. The unknown can be one heck of a motivator.
If nothing else, Jason Garrett accomplished two things with the benching of DeMarco Murray. First he sent a message loud and clear to the whole team that it doesn't matter who you are, mistakes are not acceptable. The second, and perhaps most important, message is that not only is he still fully in control of his team and the locker room; but also that he has the full support of his bosses. Win or lose, that should be considered one of the most valuable lessons to come out of the contest with the Bengals.
What do you think of the DeMarco Murray benching situation? Would you consider using it in season, for a series or two?