The Dallas Cowboys are in a dark place right now and none of us are happy about. The only saving grace for many fans is that they believe it will mark the end of the Jason Garrett era in Dallas, and that makes some people happy. Of course, there are a few people out there, like myself, who feel that would be a huge mistake. Recently, I had some time to kill while my wife was doing some last-minute shopping so I took to Twitter to explain my affinity for Garrett. Feel free to check out the thread if you would like.
My wife is Christmas shopping so I'm killing a little time. If you have genuine questions about why I support JG so much, I'll try to indulge, as long as you don't say childish things like clapper, puppet, or anything in all caps.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 23, 2019
I’m not alone in my love for Garrett, and it always resonates with me when I hear someone in the media share similar sentiments. Former ESPN analyst and 2000 Super Bowl champion, Trent Dilfer, is a longtime Cowboys fan and knows a lot of the coaches and players. He was recently on 105.3 The Fan and asked about the state of the Cowboys and in particular, head coach Jason Garrett. For those who struggle with why some are so enamored by Garrett, Dilfer offers up some pretty good insight.
He’s incredibly respected both with owners, general managers, and other coaches around the league. If Garrett was fired, he’d be the number one coaching candidate, day one.
Shan and RJ: One of the toughest things for us to do is evaluate coaching. You are an expert on concepts and X’s and O’s but then there’s all the leadership and motivational stuff behind the scenes. How do you evaluate whether Jason Garrett needs to go because for me when you have all this talent, and it’s confusing to both of us all and they’re maddening? I can’t think of anything else to evaluate Jason on other than this team not meeting the expectations. How do you evaluate Garrett?
Trent Dilfer: It’s been the hardest thing I’ve had to talk about this year because I know there’s a reality to the NFL, and there’s a perception to the NFL, Many times the perception becomes the reality, unfortunately. The reality is Jason’s an incredible leader. In fact, if the Cowboys let him go, he will be the first guy that other teams try to hire. He’s incredibly respected both with owners, general managers, and other coaches around the league.
Shan and RJ: Wow, Jerry told us that, but we all kind of laughed. You believe that he would be hired somewhere else quickly?
Dilfer: Day one. He’d be the number one candidate, day one. Everybody in the NFL admires Jason Garrett for a lot of different reasons. Not just because he’s a good guy. I think sometimes people start criticizing him and they’re like “he’s just a good guy and that’s why everybody thinks he’s a good coach.” No, he’s a hell of a football coach. He’s an incredibly good leader and admired and revered around the NFL.
The fall guy
Dilfer continues: Here’s what happens, and it’s an unfortunate part of the NFL. Once this narrative starts that it’s Jason’s fault, and we all know that for like six weeks now and it’s all I’ve talked about when I talk about the Cowboys, I’m sure it’s all you guys talk about. Every radio TV show has started that narrative that ‘well, if they’re not performing well, it’s Jason’s fault.’ Everybody’s who fault it is, now has a fall guy. So every Cowboy that’s dropping a ball, that’s missing a gap, that’s missing a block, that isn’t working hard during the week - now has a fall guy and says, “now this isn’t my fault, this is Jason’s fault” because everyone’s saying it’s Jason’s fault.’ And it becomes this ground swell within organization.
The head coach has all the power but very little control
Dilfer: Jerry needs to put on his football evaluation hat and Stephen needs to put on his football evaluation hat and say, “Okay, can Jason make that guy run the right route? Can Jason make this guy make the right call on the offensive line can? Is that under Jason’s authority or is Jason’s job to be the CEO of this program and make sure the right people are in place, the right talents being evaluated, the right coaches are coaching the right stuff, blah. blah. blah. blah. blah. blah.
And that’s their decision, but it’s not because they played bad that it’s Jason Garrett’s fault. I steal this line from Merril Hoge, I worked with him for years at ESPN, and he stole it from Chuck Noll of the Steelers:
“The head coach has all the power but very little control.”
But yet, we always want to blame him on the control part. He has power, and he’s got authority, and he’s got responsibilities, but he really doesn’t have control on game day.
You can give the players all the answers, but you can’t make him pass the test
Dilfer: I’m living this as a high school coach. We’ll give the answers to the test to our kids, but I can’t control whether he freaks out and sees a ghost in the pocket and makes a bad decision. No matter how much I train them or how much we coach them or how many resources we give them, it’s ultimately on the kid. And the accountability doesn’t always fall on the head coach.
The Cowboys need more Jason, not less
Shan and RJ: Since you’re a Cowboys fan, do you dislike or despise Jerry’s role?
Dilfer: I think that the more power that Stephen and Jason have, the better the Cowboys are. Instead of knocking Jerry, I’ll just say Stephen has proven that he’s very, very good at what he does. And give Jason even more of that overarching power and I think the Cowboys are in a better place.
People want to change, which is understandable after so many years with disappointing results. The Cowboys definitely need to make changes if they are to become a better football team. But instead of being angry that Garrett’s had so many chances, it might be good to understand why he’s been giving all this time. Maybe there’s something there that is more important to hang on to than we realize.