Back in 2010, the Dallas Cowboys entered the season with high expectations. Team owner Jerry Jones had just given head coach Wade Phillips a two-year contract extensiont, and the Cowboys owner anticipated being rewarded with the opportunity to host his own team in the Super Bowl that was being played in Cowboys Stadium that season.
What Jones received instead was a dismal showing that saw the team get off to a 1-7 start and calls for Phillips' head to roll. The Cowboys were thrashed by the Green Bay Packers 45-7 in a game that was even worse than the score would have you to believe. Following what may have been the most lackluster outing in the franchise's proud history, Jones gave in to the demands to fire Phillips. The time had come for a change, and on the flight home from Wisconsin, Jones made the change that would alter the course of the organization.
"Obviously this is a difficult decision for me," Jones said. "Our team and our organization, we're grateful to Wade and his contributions to the Cowboys in leading us to two division titles in his first three seasons with the club. We also clearly understand we're not where we want to be at this time and that's understatement. We also share the responsibility in that, all of us."
With a new (interim) head coach, there was an instant revival of the spirit surrounding the team. A squad that one week prior had quit on the former coach came out and fought tooth and nail for his replacement. New phrases were added to the lexicon at Valley Ranch. "The Cowboy Way" and "Right Kind Of Guy" became words to live by. A new culture was being established.
Other than a 5-3 record to close to the season, it was still a time of mediocrity as the Garrett regime started to make over the team in the image the coach wanted. Season after season (after season) of 8-8 football would result in the same voices calling for Garrett to suffer the same fate as his predecessor. Some of us on the outside, along with many inside the organization, saw the changes taking hold while others saw more of the same old losing ways. Finally the 2014 season dawned and with it came dire predictions from almost every direction.
Although the preseason and first game seemed to prove the naysayers correct, there was something special about this edition of the team. Win after win piled up and soon there were faint rumblings heard that included the words playoffs and even Super Bowl. Through it all, the team and their coach remained committed to their "Process".
Now the Dallas Cowboys find themselves once again poised to return to the scene where the Garrett era was birthed, Lambeau Field in Green Bay. But this time it is not as one-win team, it is as a team that finished tied for the lead in wins for the season. They return as the champions of the NFC East in search of a bigger crown.
Jason Garrett and his process have now come full circle. Win or lose on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys of 2014 are a much different team than the squad that took to the frozen tundra in November of 2010. This team has a fire about them, a burning need to prove themselves and their coach worthy of the the mantra "The Cowboy Way". Sometimes it is funny how life works out. You have to wonder if maybe the football gods had this in mind when the whole thing began just a few seasons ago.