Work days that start when work days ought to start. Punctuality regarded as more than just a good idea. Practices conducted at game tempo. Employees held accountable for substandard performance.
When did this start? Whose idea was this?
Wednesday (in pads, no less!). Per Jason Garrett, the interim head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett, the almost certain to be former coach of the Dallas Cowboys on January 3, after the 'Boys close out arguably the most disappointing season in the franchise's half-century history. If JG does the greatest "interim" job in NFL "interim" history, this team finishes 5-11. His reward for even a golden performance will be a pink slip.
Garrett knows this. He is, after all, a Princeton grad, and a member of one of the most football-wise families in America. He knows he'll be working somewhere other than Dallas in 2011, as something other than an NFL head coach. But between now and his whacking, he will at least introduce a measure of discipline, accountability and professionalism that could benefit the organization even after Garrett moves on.
Imagine. A Cowboy midweek work day centered on football rather than dominoes. Admirable concept, introduced by the acting, soon-to-be-ex shift foreman.
This is, after all, a business. Football is ultimately no more and no less a marketable commodity than toothpaste. Garrett's fate in Dallas appears sealed, because he is now unmarketable to a justifiably angry customer base. Fair? Yes and no. Objectively, Garrett probably should not have gotten this opportunity in the first place. If Wade Phillips was to be held accountable for the 1-7 start--driven by player nonchalance and entitlement-- then surely Garrett was at least equally culpable, given the team's two-headed coaching flow chart. But now that he finds himself as the boss, Garrett clearly will not be evaluated solely on what he does or doesn't do for the next eight weeks. Not completely fair. Just as life isn't. Or at least a football coach's life frequently isn't.
JG will drain his tank daily, diligently and with uncommon focus. Because he's Jason Garrett, Football Man. And even if his efforts aren't reflected in the won-lost record--and they almost certainly won't be--he will at least introduce his players to a work ethic most of them last experienced in college.
True, Garrett failed as an offensive coordinator through the first eight games. No other way to spin it. But perhaps the "Reverse Peter Principle" will be at work here. An employee gets promoted to his level of competence? We'll see.
I'm actually more intrigued to see the job Paul Pasqualoni does as DC. Phillips flopped at least as much in that role this year as he did as a head coach. Some numbers lie. This one doesn't. The biggest single statistical reason this team is 1-7 is explained thus: Last year the Dallas defense ranked second in the NFL in points allowed per game at 15.8. Through the first half of 2010 that number is 29.0, ranking next to last. I am willing to evaluate Pasqualoni exclusively through one criterion: If Mike Jenkins doesn't punk out on another collision for the rest of the year and exhibits a modicum of NFL professionalism, I will consider Paul P's brief tenure a success. Anything above that is gravy.
Football coaching professionalism can be defined as continuing to work as hard as you can, even when you know you'll be working elsewhere next year. Garrett's a professional. So is Pasqualoni. Let's hope it rubs off.