Awfully well or awfully good. If you ask Jason Garrett a question about the Dallas Cowboys performance on Sunday, you're likely to get one of those descriptions in his response. Already, in the week that Jason Garrett has been giving press conferences, certain patterns are emerging. We've joked about his telling us the time and place of the game, and just to add to that, Garrett mentioned it again - in the past tense - in the post-game press conference. It felt like he was milking the joke for one more punchline.
There's a method to what he's doing. He's reminding everybody that what matters is what happens at that time each week. And everything else you do that week should be in preparation for that time. Process, as he likes to call it. Be great everyday so that you can be great on Sunday. Stack one great day on top of the other. That's another verbal tic of Garrett, he can't stop talking about being great everyday. You're sure to get that bit of wisdom thrown into the mix if you ask him a question he's not particularly interested in answering.
Jerry wanted a culture change, I think he's getting that. How long will it last? Nobody knows, we'll just check in after next week's game, listen for the update from coach Garrett on the time and place of that game. In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys will go back to process. The Giants game is over, Garrett invoked the 24-hour rule on the celebration, I imagine it was really just a 12-hour rule. In Garrett's culture, it seems being on time, and putting in the extra work, is not just a helpful suggestion, but a mandatory part of the process.
Here are few of the key exchanges from Garrett after the win. Starting with what appears to be a suggestion by the press that Marion Barber had broken some team rule,
Did you bench Barber, why did Felix start today?
We like Felix running that play.
So it's not a change in the starting running back?
Marion was in on the second play.
Did Marion do anything to get sit down at all? Violate any team rules?
I'm surmising from that line of questioning that someone in the press got wind of a team violation by Marion Barber. But more to the point, the Cowboys should be starting Felix Jones. For most of the game, Felix was the featured back, and deservedly so. In terms of pure running back, and the guy who can make the huge play, Felix is the guy. And Jason Garrett found plenty of ways to get Felix involved. Garrett appears to have gone back to an old formula, which is to use Barber as the closer. He alluded to that when asked if he got the physical play out of the running game that he wanted.
The team played a physical style of football today, a great barometer is when we're in that four-minute mode at the end of the game and you can hand it to 24 and you can end the game. That's an awfully good sign that you're playing physical football because over the course of the game you've worn them down to where they're playing run defense with 8, 9 or 10 guys around the line of scrimmage and you're still able to run the ball in that situation.
The running game looked much better this week, but our bread was still buttered by the passing game. And no one was more instrumental to that than Jon Kitna. Garrett liked what he got from the vet, but he highlighted the little things that Kitna did, more than the big things.
I thought Jon played really well. The one thing you have to do as a quarterback is you have to protect the ball. And then you have to make some little plays, and some big plays when they're there. I think he did all of those today.... I thought he did an outstanding job of handling the football the entire game. He did make some little plays, he used his feet, he found the checkdown, did some things that are non-descript, that aren't going to be on the highlight reel, but plays that helped us in the ball game. He made some plays down the field, he cashed in on those as well. I thought he played awfully well.
Garrett also thought Dez Bryant played awfully well, and noted that Bryan McCann's interception was the big play of the game, a potential 14-point turnaround. There was praise for the defense and Paul Pasqualoni, and the o-line, all of who played or coached awfully good.
And finally, what about the play that almost had me thinking...uh, oh, here comes the meltdown. The Giants were on the move, and there was still time enough to take the game away from Dallas, time to make what had gone before irrelevant, time to make the Cowboys look like the Cowboys we've seen in 2010. We're talking about when Terence Newman and Gerald Sensabaugh got into a mini-scuffle and caused the Cowboys to burn a timeout after Jay Ratliff and Alan Ball had to intervene. What did Garrett think of that?
Great competitors talking about what's going on out there, making sure they're on the same page on the call, and wanting to get it right. There's a great appreciation for each other, I just walked past them in the locker room and they're about three inches from each other talking about the different plays in the game, so I think they'll be fine.
It's all good when you win.
The Dallas Cowboys did play awfully well on Sunday. Things look awfully good right now. Next week, let's hope they don't play just awfully.