Will Jason Garrett be named the Coach of the Year? Probably not. Oh, he should be. But there are a variety of reasons that work against him, despite the incredible job he has done leading the Dallas Cowboys back to the playoffs and clinching the NFC East a week before the end of the season. None of them are legitimate, but they are quite real.
The biggest problem, of course, is that the people who vote on these kinds of awards have been looking down their noses at Garrett ever since he became the head coach of the Cowboys. He was seen as too inexperienced. There was a pervasive belief that he was Jerry Jones' puppet. Every year there have been a bevy of articles about how hot his seat was. This was about equally rooted in the view that Jones was a win now owner with no patience, and the three-year run of 8-8 finishes, each one with Dallas going into the last game with a chance to take the division, only to fall short. Even now that Dallas has gone on a three-game winning streak in December, when everyone knows that the Cowboys don't win games that count, and become the first NFC division champion to be crowned, there are still people who look to place all the credit on the assistant coaches. Garrett is now just a walk around coach who really doesn't do anything, despite all the evidence that everyone in the organization has completely bought into his entire approach, down to players parroting him in almost every interview.
He also faces the fact he works for Jerry Jones on a team that many people almost reflexively detest. Don't underestimate the impact of that.
Those of us who support the idea of Garrett being named Coach of the Year can only hope that a lot of people change their minds about him. After all, these are the same people who created the most convincing argument for him of all: He took a team that was almost universally seen as one of the cellar-dwellers in the NFL before the season, and stormed into the postseason. Anyone who predicted that the Cowboys would only win eight, seven, six, five, four, or three games - which covers about 96% of all the professional writers and commentators who made a prediction - should choose Garrett, almost by default. Only hypocritical jerks could declare that the Cowboys were as horrid as so many said, with a defense that was projected by some to set historical marks for ineptitude, and then not give credit to Garrett for the job he did.
Of course, you may have already noticed that there is no shortage of hypocritical jerks covering football. (In the interest of full and complete disclosure, "jerks" is not the word that first came to mind for this post, but we have standards here at BTB.) The season in Dallas has presented these learned individuals with a logical conundrum: Either they must admit how badly they misread the team coming out of preseason, or they must admit how wrong they were about Garrett.
For those brave enough to admit to previous errors, the argument is pretty good for Garrett. As our own Dawn Macelli pointed out in her latest Way of the Rooster post, he has been a model of consistency throughout his tenure, preaching the same message in prosperity that he has all along.
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.
This is evidence that Garrett has been working steadily towards this goal ever since Jerry Jones promoted him to the job. It is why he has an excellent chance to continue the winning ways of the team for years to come. He is as concerned about the effect personnel moves have on the next three or four years as he is with how it may improve the team this season. While he may have some flaws, such as the issues with game management and play calling that cropped up at various times in his first three seasons, he has always been a true leader for the team. His consistency is an underrated trait, because the players never have to wonder how they will be treated or what is expected of them. There is no smoke and mirrors involved on the Cowboys, just a total commitment to hard work, hard play, and taking personal responsibility.
I hope I am underestimating the media and others who determine these things. Jason Garrett deserves to be named Coach of the Year for the season he has delivered for Dallas. But should he be snubbed, he at least is going to get a very nice consolation prize in the next contract from Jerry Jones.