Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett is 100 percent in control of his media messaging – he never says anything to the press that he doesn’t want to say. In his tenure, he’s never been the type call out his players in public, preferring to address personnel issues in private.
So when he stood behind the podium this week and pointedly criticized the play of two young defensive keystones, it wasn’t a fit of pique. It wasn’t frustration boiling over at a disappointing 2-2 start. It wasn’t a coach on the edge, feeling the pressure of his position.
This was purposeful. This was calculated. This was – Cowboys fans rejoice – very Jimmy.
A head coach in the NFL has many responsibilities, but perhaps chief among them is establishing organizational standards and demanding player accountability. Dallas coaching great Jimmy Johnson was famously effective in this capacity. Consider the testimony of former Cowboys linebacker Ken Norton Jr., in the outstanding America’s Game retrospective of the 1992 Superbowl season:
He made us all feel like if we didn’t do our job, then someone else was gonna do it for us. He was like, ‘I love you as long as you’re making tackles. As soon as you stop making tackles, I don’t love you no more.’
There’s no question Garrett loves Bruce Carter. The entire organization is excited by what they saw from Carter last season, and he is viewed by many outside the organization as a potential pro bowler in this league.
And yet, after getting gashed in the passing game last week in San Diego, Carter found himself on the sidelines for most of the second half. Backup linebacker Ernie Sims is taking snaps with the first team in practice this week.
“Just didn’t play to his capabilities,” Garrett said of Carter on Monday. “One of the best things he does is, he covers guys. He’s a very good athlete, and you have to use good technique to do that. You have to be fundamentally sound to do that… He’s capable of covering those guys well and just didn’t get it done.”