Those of you who have been reading this page for any length of time have no doubt heard the reference "The Way Of The Rooster" multiple times. Those references go back to the days before I joined the front page staff, back to when I was penning Fanposts and cutting my teath as a writer. With the Cowboys finally earning their first post-season berth of the Garrett era, it is a good time to revisit "The Way" and look at how Garrett deals with the success his team is experiencing.
Following the on-field celebration, including a Gatorade bath at the hands of Tony Romo and Jeremy Mincey, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys took a few moments to address the 53 men whose efforts have led the franchise to a 11-4 record this season and the NFC East crown. True to form, Coach Garrett continued to stress the values that got the team to the point where they now stand. There will be no departure from the process that the Rooster put in place the moment he was named as the interim coach. He reminded his players who they are and what they have come through to reach this point; he then challenged them to take the next step.
"I just believe this from the bottom of my heart: Be who you are. It started with fight a long, long time ago. Be who you are. Own it. I believe we did that. We did it on offense. We did it on defense. We did it in the kicking game. It was a hell of a day guys.
"Here's what we're going to do, this is a little bit controversial. We're going to put these NFC East division hats on and we're going to have somebody take a picture of everybody who's in here with their hat on. And then by midnight tonight, here's what I want you guys to do, I want you to give it to somebody.
"I want you to give it to somebody you love. Give it to your wife, give it to your kid, give it to your mom, give it to your dad, give it to somebody, because as good as this is, I think our sights are set a little higher than this, aren't they?" Jason Garrett
The message was totally clear: Yes, the Cowboys have done well, but more is expected, the victory on Sunday was sweet but there is still more football to be played. In his challenge to put the victory aside and allow the sun to rise on the next chapter, Garrett made his intentions clear. The next challenge would be the Washington Redskins, the oldest rival of the franchise was next on the list and there is a debt that needs to be paid. Garrett and his charges would be taking this one seriously. BTB's favorite insider gave us an early hint that this would be the Cowboys intention.
Will celebrate for a bit then start getting ready for Washington game. Fight is not over yet.— Birddog26 (@Birddog26) December 22, 2014
In his address to the media, Coach Garrett confirmed his intentions were to play his starters and lay it on the line even though the 'Boys face a uphill climb to secure a first-round bye. The next football game is as meaningful to his process as the preceding fifteen were. Garrett's kind of football calls for men who love the game and give there all every time they set foot on the field. To "roll over" against the Redskins would be counter to everything he has taught since day one.
"Our plan is to practice as well as we can practice and go play our best football game with the guys who are available to us. We're excited about that opportunity. That's what we do here. We focus on each day. We focus on being our best and that's what we're going to do this week getting ready for the Redskins. We don't really concern ourselves with all of the different scenarios."
As Herman Edwards once told the world "You play to win the game". That meme rings true with Jason Garrett, and his team will indeed play to win the game. That is not to say that they will take foolish risks; Garrett does see the bigger picture. It will be a balancing act for the coaching staff to manage both priorities on Sunday. Come what may, the Dallas Cowboys will not be rolling over and playing dead for the Washington Redskins.
When you follow The Way Of The Rooster, there is only one way to approach the game of football.
"There are some teams who are more mature, maybe they have been there before, they know how to handle that situation, rest and healing up might be more important to them, but our football team - we need to play. We need to go play and play well. It starts with practice. It starts with our preparation, and then when the game starts go play as well as you can play."
Jason Garrett wouldn't have it any other way.
Because every time I write an installment of this series I get requests for links to the rest, here are the links for the entire series of articles:
The Way Of The Rooster: Carpe Diem
The Way Of The Rooster: Avoiding Complacency
The Way Of The Rooster: Follow Me
The Way Of The Rooster: Doing Homework
The Way Of The Rooster: Band Of Brothers
The Way Of The Rooster: For The Love Of The Game