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Jason Garrett Talks Competition And Running Back Rotation

Jason Garret called in to Pro Football Talk's PFT Live today and discussed a variety of topics with Mike Florio. Garrett was his usual eloquent but non-committal self in the interview, deftly avoiding any missteps in his answers, and some might even say that he deftly avoided answering any of the questions at all.

Among the topics discussed was Dez Bryant of course, and Garrett reassured listeners that the Cowboys did have contact with Bryant in the brief window during which contact was allowed: "We did get a chance to see a number of players and visit with a number of them who were out of town, just over the phone so he was in that mix, and he seems like he’s doing better." Garrett went on to say that like any rookie, Bryant would benefit from the structure regular OTAs and team activities would provide.

The interview also touched on the position that Tyron Smith might play for the Cowboys, the lockout and many other things. Listen to the full interview here or read a partial transcript typed up by yours truly after the break in which Garrett talks about competition, the running back rotation and ... wait for it  ... who the next opponent will be.

Q: Earlier this offseason, tight end Martellus Bennett raised some eyebrows by suggesting there should be some competition between Romo and Jon Kitna. What was your reaction when you heard that from Martellus Bennett?

Here's Bennett's full quote: "I loved playing with Kitna," tight end Martellus Bennett said during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN 103.3's Ben & Skin Show. "Kitna is one of my favorite people to play with. Just being out there on the field with that guy just makes you play even harder. He made some things happen in limited time, so I think if he got a longer chance, he'd be able to do more. I hope there's a chance for a quarterback competition this year. Every position, I think we need to put more competition into it."

Jason Garrett: Well, we like competition throughout our football team and we certainly like it at the quarterback position as well as at every position - at the tight end spot, offensive and defensive line, the runners, the receivers, the linebackers and the cover guys.

We believe that's an important component, an important dynamic to have on a good football team and that each and every day you have to go out there and compete against the guy across from you, but also with the guy next to you, to earn the time that you have or the particular role that you have on our football team. And that goes for the number one guy on our football team all the way to 53, and throughout training camp all the way through number 80.

So we think that's important. Martellus is dead on about that and we're going to have that throughout our football team.

Now Tony's done a great job competing. If you ask me, one of the traits that really makes Tony the player that he is, it's that desire to compete.You watch him practice, you watch him throughout training camp, the preseason games and certainly during the regular season, he's a tremendous competitor. He loves it. So I don't have real concerns about Tony and his desire to compete in anything he does.

Q: Another one of your draft picks is creating some buzz: DeMarco Murray, third-rounder from Oklahoma. There was talk that he may come in as the number one guy when the season starts. Is there any chance of that happening, of Murray being at the top of a pretty good depth chart at running back?

Jason Garrett: We like DeMarco Murray. We like what he brings to the table. He's a versatile back. He's a guy who's shown he can run the football. He's been productive as a receiver and has also been very good on third down as a receiver out of the backfield but maybe more importantly, as a blocker.

He seems to have a really good understanding of protections and not only who to block, but how to block them. So we really liked his versatility, the kind of young man that he is and he's certainly been a productive player.

Again back to the earlier discussion about competition, we feel like that's a competitive position for us and we like that. We like guys who are competing for time and for touches. We think that's a good thing. That's how we've done it in the past and DeMarco will be part of that mix again this year.

Q: I assume that means going forward the approach to the running game is going to be the same as it's been in recent years. And the Cowboys have been at the forefront of this trend: not just two guys but three guys having regular opportunities to come in and get their hands on the football. Do you plan on continuing to use a rotation going forward?

Jason Garrett: Yeah, we believe, and I think the league is showing this now, that there are very few teams that just have the one back who gets it 30 time a game.

The days of Emmitt Smith carrying it as much as he did in the NFL seem to have gone by the wayside a little bit. We still believe you have to have a marquee back, but you need to have some other guys come in a spell that guy and keep them all fresh. Keep them all attacking the defense.

In some ways it's a little bit like teams that have great pass rushers. They seem to have more than just four guys. They rotate these guys in there and they're always fresh, they're always attacking those offensive linemen and getting after the quarterback.

We think there's an analogy there with the running back position as well. We think DeMarco can be in that mix... When we had a chance to draft DeMarco we thought that was the best thing for our team.

Q: What can Cowboys fans expect out of the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 under Jason Garrett?

Jason Garrett: We're just excited to get going. We did some positive things the last half of last year, so that'll hopefully get us going in the right direction this year. We believe we have The Right Kind Of Guys on our team. We believe we've added some more guys in the draft.

We like our coaching staff, we like our football players. We're excited to get to work, and one of the things we've talked to our guys about each and every day is just simply Being Great Today.

A lot of people want to make bold predictions about how we're going to do in the season and those kinds of things. That's not the way we operate down here.

Everyone understands what the goals are, what we want to do, the importance of shooting towards being the best team in the league. We all get that, but what we're going to focus on is practicing well each and every day and hopefully putting good practice days together and getting ready to go. We'll have a great challenge going up to New York against the Jets in week one and hopefully we'll get ourselves ready to go and put our best foot forward that week.

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