It’s been a fast-moving news week for the Dallas Cowboys: Lance Dunbar’s foot injury, JJ Wilcox’s return from bereavement, Sean Lee’s long-term contract, Doug Free’s experiment at guard – all layups for a press corps clamoring for quick and easy clicks. But perhaps the most revealing and intriguing item came in a rare candid moment from head coach Jason Garrett during his Tuesday presser.
Garrett was asked simply why he likes the Tampa Two defense. He didn’t pivot away from the question – this despite the fact that Garrett can manipulate the press corps as masterfully as any politician’s paid flack. Blowing off the press is part of an NFL head coach’s job: Wade Phillips hemmed and hawed; Bill Parcels berated and bullied; Garrett feigns engagement, then talks enthusiastically about whatever he wants. Acknowledge, respond, pivot. High-level stuff. Very cool to watch.
But when offered a softball about the Tampa Two, Garrett’s smile seemed to suggest to the reporter: you’re on to something – do you know what it is? He took the question head on, no pivots, and spoke at length. Here’s the most interesting bit:
(The Tampa Two) is more based on doing things well fundamentally than it is tricking the offense… It’s about being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there, in the right gap, and then playing fast…
What is so interesting and revealing about this statement? Read the translation:
Rob Ryan was never my guy. I just went along with that. Now, I got my guys. This is the staff I always wanted. This is the staff I envisioned when I took this job.
Garrett’s statement exactly and intentionally refers to Rob Ryan’s exotic 3-4 defensive scheme, which is all about “tricking the offense” and rarely about “being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.”
How often in the past two years did you see Dallas defenders spread their arms wide in a what-the-hell-is-happening-this-play gesture, just before the ball was snapped? How often did you spray lager-infused spittle on your flat screen, shouting yourself hoarse as Dallas defenders charged on and off the field with all the composed and purposeful direction of 3rd graders at the clang of the recess bell?