On Wednesday, I did a post about how the Dallas Cowboys are using their strength and conditioning program for much more than weightlifting and wind sprints.
The big point I wanted to relate was how the team, under Jason Garrett, is using a truly integrated approach. The awards given out for participation in the offseason program listed a lot of the more prominent players for the team, which seemed a bit counter-intuitive. You would expect this program to be one that marginal players and rookies would be putting the most effort into, not the top performers and leaders on the team. To recap quickly, here is the list of award winners from this year's S&C program:
Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Gerald Sensabaugh, Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Doug Free, and Danny McCray.
In the comments for that article, Dr P noted that many of the same names showed up on the list of "team captains" Jason Garrett used for his charity game on the last day of OTAs during the summer. That does not seem to be just a coincidence. With the 2012 Dallas Cowboys, the message is clear. The better you are, the more the team expects from you. Hard work and success are inseparable.
The awards continue during the regular season. After the jump, see who the Dallas coaches felt were standout players against the New York Giants.
First off, there is a new award. According to Josh Ellis at DallasCowboys.com, it is called the Hard Hat award, and is an actual hard hat worn by a coal miner. Jason Garrett explained a bit about the rationale of the award, and why the first week's winner was chosen.
"Really it's about putting your hard hat on, regardless of circumstances and going down there and doing your job," Garrett said. "We told them some stories about coal miners early on in training camp, and what they do each and every day, and how they get paid for what they do. And DeMarcus Ware demonstrated that more than anybody else in our win against the Giants."
Is there any better symbol for the type of team Garrett wants? Blue collar, put the team goal ahead of everything, work your butt off performance. Everything JG does is for a purpose, namely to help achieve the team's goal, and fits in with the overall plan to do so. And that goal has the word "Lombardi" engraved on it.
While that article discussed the the top award, it did not cover any of the other ones the coaches handed out. But yesterday, Tim MacMahon tweeted a picture of the coaches' awards to players following the New York Giants game. For those who might be on a small-screen device, here are the additional names:
Game Balls: Tony Romo, Kevin Ogletree, DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee, Chris Jones
Attaboys: Miles Austin, Ryan Cook, Tyron Smith, Jason Witten, Barry Church, Anthony Spencer.
Scout Team Player of the Week: Kyle Orton
The game balls are pretty much expected, except for punter Chris Jones. I admit that I was one of the people who figured that Jones was just holding down a slot until Mat McBriar came back from his injury, but I was very wrong. McBriar couldn't make it with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Cowboys were more than content with Jones. It turns out there is a good reason. Charean Williams did an article about the likely strategy for neutralizing the Seattle Seahawk's return man, Leon Washington. In it she mentioned that Jones has, to this point, kicked in three games for the Cowboys since McBriar's injury last year. He has a 44.5 yard average for his punts, and has given up six return yards. Not average. Six yards over three games.
Man, I hate it when I find out that the coaching staff knows more than I do.
The Attaboys are also pretty understandable. Austin for the touchdown that proved to be the winning margin, Cook for manning up when the team needed him, Smith for the most valuable penalty committed in the game, Witten for being Jason Freaking Witten, Church for proving the team was not wrong to give him the starting job, and Spencer for proving that the fans largely don't know what they are talking about.
I really like the last name, that Scout Team award to Orton. This is a player who used to start in the NFL. When I first heard the comments that he wanted to come to Dallas and back up Tony, I was a bit skeptical. Would this be a player who worked hard to be ready? Would he be a good influence in the locker room?
Looks like he is turning out to be another RKG, despite his reputation as Captain Neckbeard, consumer of mass quantities of alcohol and defiler of women. Being the standout guy on the scout team is a challenge. Getting the award means that the coaches were very happy with the way Kyle simulated Eli Manning to prepare the defense. It shows some real dedication to go out and work you buns off, knowing that the last thing everyone on the team wants to see is you actually taking the field in a meaningful game situation.
These were some well deserved accolades, given by the ones who see the team most closely. I have been in some organizations where the awards they gave out to motivate people were pretty meaningless, because they were political, or based on sucking up, or just stupid. I have also been in situations where those awards were deeply meaningful and very hard to earn. The latter ones worked, making you want to go out and do even better. I think that is what we see going on here.
Yeah, just made a fresh batch. Want a glass?