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Jason Garrett’s failure to convey his vision is why the Cowboys didn’t live up to expectations

The Cowboys former coach gave a very honest answer talking about why the team came up short under his reign.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Soon, the football world will see a different side of Jason Garrett as he moves into his new role with NBC, joining the Sunday Night Football Show program. Garrett spent nine seasons as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys before leaving in 2020. During his time as head coach, the Cowboys only had one losing season, back in 2015 when Tony Romo missed most of the year. While they had plenty of good years, they never got passed the Division Round of the playoffs despite having multiple opportunities. The former coach was given plenty of chances in Dallas as he’s the longest-tenured coach of the Cowboys since Jerry Jones bought the team back in 1989.

Why the team couldn’t achieve greatness under Garrett, or any other Cowboys coach since Jimmy Johnson left, isn’t fully understood, but we might have a little light shed on the subject after the former Cowboys coach talked with Rich Eisen on Thursday. Our own R.J. Ochoa has already covered part of the interview where Garrett offers up some advice for Mike McCarthy, but we also found the comments he made about his failures in Dallas very interesting.

Eisen asked Garrett about Jerry Jones, and in true Garrett fashion, he only had good things to say. But Eisen didn’t let up. While he indicated that he wasn’t fishing for Garrett to say something negative about the Cowboys owner, he persisted with the notion that there is a general sense in Dallas that Jones’ meddling has had a detrimental effect on the success of the team. That’s a fair claim, but would Garrett take the bait? Actually, the always well-spoken Princeton graduate provided an explanation for why the Cowboys fell short, and it shouldn’t be surprising that Garrett took complete ownership. Here is what he had to say:

“He [Jerry Jones] was always so supportive, and he wanted to do what was necessary to win and I always felt like I didn’t do a good enough job communicating what we needed to if there was a decision made that went against some of the things that I wanted to do. Whether it was hiring someone, or signing someone, or making a decision about personnel or how we’re doing things. To me it’s the coach’s job in any organization to create the vision for what you want the team and the program to be and it’s your job to lead and it’s your job to lead upward to ownership to general managers and certainly lead to your coaches and your players and all the staff members who work with the team. So, anytime something didn’t go in a direction that I felt like maybe we should’ve done it this way I always put it back on myself to say clearly, I didn’t communicate that well enough, I didn’t make the argument well enough to get the decision or the outcome that we wanted.”

This makes sense as it points to the lack of control that Garrett had within the organization. That’s not to say that he was a “puppet” as many like to claim, but rather faced opposition to run the team like he would’ve wanted. Garrett would go on to talk about how there were a lot of people involved in the discussions of what they wanted to do, but it still came down to the decision of one man.

“It’s a very collaborative organization,” Garrett said. “There’s a lot of people, you have a lot of conversations about the decisions you want to make. Ultimately, Jerry is the owner/general manager, he’s the one that makes the decisions, he’s the one that drafts the player.”

It’s not all negative for Garrett, as he also indicates that when he was successful in getting the team to do what he believed was right, that’s when the team was at its best.

“But I always felt like when we did a good job, when I did a good job communicating the vision, communicating the reason why we wanted this particular guy and we created consensus throughout the organization, that’s when we did the best work and anytime we fell short of that I put back on me for not doing my job well enough.”

The Cowboys did have some great years under Garrett and in those moments it felt like he had the team under his control. The mindset was there, the juice was there, and it’s hard not to be pleased with the culture he created. In the end, it’s still a Jerry Jones-controlled football team and while Garrett may have done a lot of things right, his biggest fault was being too compliant and not pushing hard enough to do things the right way.