I have never felt that the position of head coach of the Dallas Cowboys was a gig for a beginner. Granted, I never had to ponder that question prior to the 2010 regular season, but it’s definitely how I feel concerning current head coach Jason Garrett.
The events of this week only expand this belief of mine.
Now, some will counter with the fact that legendary former head coach Tom Landry, the very person this website is named for, was a beginner, of sorts, when being named the first man in charge of what seemed like just an NFL expansion team for North Texas way back in 1960. There is some truth there but we’re still talking about two entirely different eras and personalities when comparing Landry to Garrett.
To be clear, Landry was an innovator of the game of football, on both sides of the ball. Terms such as “flex”, “shotgun” and “up and down” (movement of offensive linemen prior to the snap) were either designed by Landry or revived by him while achieving results previously unrealized by his predecessors in a much smaller and more primitive NFL.
No, you don’t need me to explain the cascade of other differences between the etched-in-stone coaching legacy of Landry in Dallas versus the developing one surrounding Garrett, right? One guy is a bona fide legend while the other is just an idea, at least to this point.
But Garrett brings a major deficiency to the head coaching ranks that Landry simply didn’t have.
Landry believed in identifying a problem and then fixing it.
Garrett believes in the problem itself while failing to realize that it needs to be fixed.
For example, Landry served as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants at the same time as Vince Lombardi was serving as offensive coordinator—this was in the 1950s. Over the decade that followed, both individuals, then head coaches for Dallas and the Green Bay Packers, respectively, would clash for supremacy in the NFL.
In other words, Landry knew exactly what had to be stopped, at least if his growing Cowboys team was going to reach the pinnacle, which it eventually did. Dallas had to stop Lombardi’s “Run to Daylight”.
Now, the Cowboys wouldn’t make their mark on the NFL until the 1970s, at least in terms of winning championships and becoming the perennial contender that they did. But the process of focusing on that which was better, and meeting that challenge in games that ended up with names, like “The Ice Bowl”, helped make those goals a reality.
Garrett, to this point, hasn’t exactly shown the ability to overcome anything. Instead of innovating the game and illustrating strong leadership capabilities, Garrett remains fully committed to operating the way he wants, even if it’s been proven to be—well, let’s use the term suspect.