By all accounts former Cowboys safety Will Allen is a stand-up guy, but his criticism of Valley Ranch leadership on Sirius radio this week suggests he’s still a bit raw about his Week 3 benching and subsequent release. Apparently even classy vets aren’t above the occasional low blow.
Allen took a not-so-veiled swipe at Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday, saying the team has great players and great coaches who can’t be their best because of a “micromanaged” culture that is “not fun for anybody.”
Sour grapes? That’s probably part of it. No 10-year veteran wants to get benched in Week 3 for a small-school rookie with barely a year of experience playing the position. Turns out JJ Wilcox was born to play safety. It’s no one’s fault, really, but Allen’s public reaction to the benching was telling:
“Hey, man, I just work here,” Allen said back on September 19. “That’s all I can say.”
Compare that to Garrett’s comments, when pushed during his Wednesday presser for a reaction to Allen’s public jabs:
“No real comment beyond just a great deal of respect for him. Had a chance to be around him in Tampa, and we were really fortunate to have him here… It doesn’t surprise me one bit he’s back in Pittsburgh and doing good things. He’s a good football player, and he’s a good guy.”
That’s real class.
Ever wonder what Tom Landry might have been like in this media age of constant, crushing, 24-hour coverage? Now you have some idea. The comparison may be impossible to quantify due to era, and absurdly premature, but it has merit.
Landry took over the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and missed the playoffs his first six seasons. He followed that early adversity with a professional sports record 20 straight winning seasons. It was an unmatched coaching career that could never have got off the ground in the ESPN era of sporting news. “Hot Seat” noise from the chattering class would have had Landry canned by ’63 and back coordinatating for the New York Giants.
Garrett is barely three seasons into his head coaching career, and like early Landry the win-loss record is lacking, but the brilliance has been apparent. His culture clean-up following the Wade Phillips grease fire in 2010 was masterful. His stewardship of the franchise amid last year’s playoff run through the Jerry Brown drunk driving death was inspired. His role in molding Dez Bryant from an erratic youth, and something of a franchise gamble, into a man, and consequently an NFL superstar, has been remarkable.
The early hallmarks for greatness are there: Culture, focus, and player development. A coach with this kind of impact on an organization will win, given time. But some have seized on Allen’s remarks as proof of Garrett’s inadequacy.
Brad Gagnon over at Bleacher Report supports the Jerry Jones puppet master theory, asserting Garrett couldn’t get another job in the league and that Jerry keeps him around because he “resists ruffling feathers within a fractured organization.”
This site’s editor takes Allen’s side, citing the scorned safety’s remarks as “yet another reason the Cowboys need a more experienced head coach at the helm.”
They’re awfully popular sentiments – who really knows? Maybe they’re right. But Garrett’s players don’t think so.
Dez Bryant: “(Garrett) always stays on me because he believes in me. I can’t thank him for it enough… I know with me, I pay attention to him, I listen to him, I love him. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.”
Jason Hatcher: “You know at the end of the day he cares about you individually, and he understands the game. He’s a great coach.”
Tony Romo: “He’s got a great mind for football. He’s a great motivator. He understands human dynamics, and I think he’s a fantastic coach, so we’re lucky to have him.”
Tom Cowlishaw over at the Dallas Morning News believes Garrett’s job is safe for now because “Jerry doesn’t like change… He has convinced himself that Jason Garrett is Tom Landry reborn.”
Garrett channeled his inner Landry this week with a classy response to a former player’s very public criticism. Time for Jerry to channel his inner Clint Murchison and hang on to the guy everyone wants to see sacrificed at the alter of 8-8.
Patience, Jerry. The harder it gets, the sweeter it’s gonna be when this thing pays off…