Surprise: Cowboys Garrett Has Drafted For 4-3 Since Day 1

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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.

Sep 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter (54) and New York Giants running back Henry Hynoski (45) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

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?


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  • AustonianAggie

    This isn’t a fair assesment, in that there are only 4 or 5 colleges that run a 34 anywhere. And in Kyle Wilber’s case, he was a 34 LB in college anyway.

    • John

      Isn’t a fair assessment? I’ll go you a step further – it’s reckless speculation. The Rob Ryan hire just screams Jerry Jones, though – no cap room to make a splashy free agent player signing in 2011 so he went with a splashy coach. Garrett/Ryan always struck me as very Lemon/Mattheau – odd indeed. Garrett’s background is in the 4-3, he’s seen it have success, he likes fundamentals and process as opposed to exotics, so I speculated. This is a blog, right?

  • oneputter

    check yourself brudda! 51 was a DE at Purdue, not a LB.
    I’ve said from day one that JG’s plan was to switch to the 4-3, people kept saying we don’t have the players to play the 4-3, well guess what, yes we do. just about every defensive player we’ve drafted in the last 2-3 yrs was playing 4-3 in college….
    as coach has said from day one, “its a process” well he’s planning his work and working his plan…..and you best believe jerry is on board!

  • Imdatdude99

    I don’t buy it. Wilber was a classic tweener but besides that if the plan was 4-3 since day 1 why did Garrett try so hard to bring in Dom Capers?

    • John

      Sure, it’s thin, but this is a blog. I don’t get to interview anyone. The Capers angle fits, though – Jerry didn’t want to switch schemes, and Rob Ryan’s exotic 3-4 never appealed to the process-oriented Garrett. If Redball couldn’t have the 4-3, he could at least try to land a 3-4 coach more rooted in fundamentals and less prone to going all mad scientist.

  • Raymond Tippett

    I agree Jason was trying to build a 4-3 scheme the minute he got the job he drafted for it. he went after linebackers for speed and tackles, in my eyes Jason is doing everything on the defensive side of the ball to succeed . Jason is the right guy to have at the helm

    • John

      Boy, how good does Garrett look on the sideline without that clipboard, huh?

  • Juanito Juanito

    Jerry look like a dumb in football stuff like allways