Morris Claiborne was also called out publicly by his coach this week. The second-year corner cost the Cowboys two premium draft assets in 2012, and following a solid rookie campaign he appears to have regressed this season. Claiborne has been demoted to the nickel corner, losing his starting job to Orlando Scandrick.
“They went to him too much in this ballgame, and they were too effective,” Garrett said of Claiborne’s performance against the Chargers. “He’s just got to play better, and he will play better.”
Implicit in that statement is, if he doesn’t play better, then someone else will play instead.
If you don’t do your job, someone else is gonna do it for you.
That’s the very public message Garrett sent to his players this week. It’s not the kind of message a coach sends to a young player when the team is in the middle of a rebuilding phase, when it’s OK to make mistakes and grow on a brisk fall Sunday. It’s not the kind of message Garrett sent publicly to budding contributors the past two years.
This year is different. Apparently, Garrett believes this year the Cowboys have the personnel in place to make a run. He has little patience for on-the-job training. If you’re in the game, you’re expected to get it done at a high level; if you can’t, you can watch from the sidelines.
We’ll learn something important this season about Garrett’s coaching acumen. We know he’s great at putting out grease fires – the 5-3 turn around he orchestrated in 2010 following Wade’s 1-7 start was masterful. We know he’s a competent rebuilder, having positioned this team to compete for the division championship in two seasons where he churned 70 percent of the roster.
Now that the grease fire is out, and the rebuilding is (presumably) done, we’ll learn this year whether Garrett’s brand of culture and accountability can translate to winning in the NFL.
He took a page out of his old coach’s book this week. How this team reacts to the challenge of hosting the consensus best team in football will tell us plenty about what to expect from the Cowboys this season. Don’t be surprised if the ‘Boys pull off the upset. Garrett’s an overachiever. How many Princeton quarterbacks can you name that went on to 12-year careers in the NFL?
Look for the Cowboys to come out breathing fire on Sunday. It rarely pays to bet against a guy who has a history of beating the odds.