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Is Jason Garrett The Dallas Cowboys' New Jimmy Johnson?

It has been a long time for Dallas Cowboys fans since the powerhouse team that won three Super Bowls in the Nineties. The one constant from both those glory days and the drought that has parched hopes since has been owner and General Manager Jerry Jones. He is the target of many slings and arrows, and he often does as much as he can to make himself a bigger target.

There are more than a few fans who frequent BTB that believe with all their hearts that the Cowboys will never see success again as long as Jerruh is still wearing the GM hat. Others think that the problem has been that he has never found the right head coach to work with since he and Jimmy Johnson parted ways, and we see signs of hope that at last he has found a replacement for the other JJ in Jason Garrett.

It is a good topic to discuss. We all have opinions, and love to express them. And sometimes there are other voices out there who offer their take on things. Like this.

"I think Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones are going to continue to develop a relationship that's going to make a difference here."

A lot of people, including me, have said things like that. A lot of people think we are somewhat foolish to think something like that. But when that is a quote from arguably the greatest Cowboy player ever to wear the star, Roger Staubach, then maybe we optimists are not totally delusional.

You know what to do . . .

What I am about to say is opinion. I don't have a bunch of statistics for this. This is my perception, admittedly from a distance, of what is going on with the team, and it is also a revisiting of some things I said last summer to see how close I might have gotten things.

Back during the tail end of the lockout (which, I believe I may at one time have said, sucked), I wrote several articles about how I thought Jason Garrett would be a very good coach for the Cowboys. A large part of my belief was based on the fact that he and Jerry Jones seemed to have a good working relationship. Jerry seems to trust Jason, and so far the personnel moves made by the Cowboys since JG was given the head coaching job look to have his fingerprints all over them.

To a very large extent, the owner/coach relationship is going the way I hoped it would. Jerry seems to have found the counterweight he needs. Jimmy Johnson was a powerful personality, and he left no doubt that he was running the team. While he and Jerry were able to coexist, they created one of the most dominant teams in the NFL.

The problem that seemed to develop was that even the state of Texas was not able to hold both their egos. Jerry wanted to be seen as the face of the Dallas Cowboys, and that was not going to happen as long as Jimmy and his famous hair were in Dallas. They could create a killer team, but they could not maintain a viable partnership.

Jimmy moved on, and the parting seemed to be mutually desired. What followed was a series of coaches, none of whom was truly able to provide that balance in running the team that was needed. Jerry tried a variety of different approaches, first going with coaches he clearly dominated, then bringing in Bill Parcells, who was the closest to an effective match for him, but Tuna is not one to stay around long. Finally, in Jason, Jerry has someone who seems just as strong willed as Jimmy Johnson was, but without the need to seize the microphone that Jimmy had. As a matter of fact, Jason seems to have some distrust of, and even disdain for, the media. When he goes into JG5000 mode, he exhibits an ability to sound intelligent and reasoned while saying almost nothing that is seldom matched outside of the Washington DC beltway.

That leaves Jerry his favorite role, which is to deliver the word according to himself about all things Cowboys. The media seems to realize that while Garrettspeak is often empty of any real information, Jerryspeak, while much harder to translate, is chock full of things, often too full. This leads them to seek JJ out, and he is more than happy to oblige. That has not really changed, of course.

What has changed is that he seems to be taking his cues from JG. I don't know if it is that Ivy League background, or just the years of building a relationship as a player and coach in the organization, but somehow Jason has gained Jerry's ear. When you run the translation program on what Jerry says, what you wind up with sounds remarkably like Jason's Cowboy Way and his always ongoing Process. JG is setting the course for the team, and JJ is figuring out how to fund it. It is possibly a better pairing that the Jones/Johnson alliance, with a much better chance of surviving for the long haul.

Look at this quote from a recent interview Jerry gave on the mothership. When asked how the team would improve the roster, he gave something that I could see JG saying, if he was in a talking mood.

"Not at the cost of not taking the best player available," the team's owner and general manager responded. "If we're going to pinpoint a player that's probably best served in a free-agent decision. But when we get in that draft, we need to look at where we've got them on that draft board, where we've placed them. That's a process I feel very good about."

(You can check out the complete video here if you wish.)

Notice that he is even talking "process".

The important thing is of course the idea of going BPA. With all the discussion of who the Cowboys should take, especially in that number 14 spot, this may be the best indicator of which way the team is going. It looks like they are not going to lock in on a cornerback or any other position.

This is the best indication that Jerry has bought into the Garrett philosophy I have seen. He goes on to talk about the limitations under free agency, which I take as meaning that the approach to free agency will be a rational one. And he is not looking for that one or two players to complete the team, but at a bigger picture. He also talks about there being twenty-five people who have an input into the personnel decisions, which certainly does not sound like the stereotyped image of him calling all the shots.

There is still a lot of ground that needs to be covered for the Cowboys. But with free agency and the draft coming at us (with agonizing slowness) the signs are certainly encouraging.

Jerry Jones can be a success. He can build a championship team. He cannot do it without the right head coach. I felt that Jason Garrett was that guy when he was hired. What I am seeing now just makes me feel more that way.