Cowboys Conversation: A Debate on Jason Garrett’s Future

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Mar 26, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to reporters at the NFL Annual Meetings. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Don: I agree with all of that. But  I’m not setting the bar high here – a simple playoff appearance is not much of an accomplishment in this league. We are talking about a very socialist league (draft order, the salary cap, how the schedule works, etc.), so parity is high and the list of teams who make the playoffs runs at a 50 percent  turnover rate each year. Add in that we’ve played in a weak division and have the most difficult and important position secure: quarterback, which is a huge advantage over most teams. Endless debates about Tony Romo withstanding, he is, at minimum, a top half of the league QB. (I would argue far higher, though that’s a debate for another day). Consider all of those factors and I do not see how anyone can say going four years without making the playoffs is anything but an abject failure. We should be demanding better, and so should the franchise.

Meredith: Maybe you need to manage you expectations a little bit more. There are a lot of ways to determine success. I get that in sports winning a championship is often seen by most players, coaches and fans as being the only way to measure success – and I am guilty of saying a team has sucked if they haven’t – but again, stop narrowly focusing on the playoff plateau, take a step back and look at  the gains made during the last three seasons:

  • Garrett has said on numerous occasions that this ‘is a process’ – something he catches a lot of flack for – but he also follows that up by saying he believes it takes about three years to get your roster right in terms of who you are playing and the guys who are the building blocks of the future. I think he has shown a commitment to that – during his tenure, he has drafted 22 players and my quick calculations show just about 75% of them remain on the roster.
  • In comparison, I think only 5 players drafted under Phillips and Parcells are still on the roster – hence he has building his own organization. That takes time and it should be counted as a success.
  • It takes a specific skill set to be able to manage up and manage down – particularly when you work for someone like Jerry. Former Cowboy Marcus Spears said this (emphasis mine):

"“Jason is, honestly, one of the best coaches I’ve ever played. He played the game. And he’s not far removed from playing the game. Jason Garrett is a good coach. But is he limited? That’s the question. Is he limited in what he’s able to do with what’s supposed to be his football team. I think he is.”"

  • So getting the right people into the spots so he is able to effectively manage up and manage down and he isn’t doing too much in too many areas – I truly believe that you can’t actually do it all and do it all well simultaneously.

And since we are lobbing bombs at each other here, I also find it fairly ironic that I recall a certain someone crowing at the end of last season about how you have Josh Gordon as a keeper for your precious little fantasy team for this season? How’s that working out for ya?

Don: Um, yes. Not well. Thank you for the painful reminder. I can’t remember a young player, in any sport, achieving  such a high level of professional success (not just promise/potential) and throwing it all away so quickly via purely self-inflicted wounds. Maybe Doc Gooden, but Doc had a few years of dominance. In the end, this is what I get for not choosing the RKOGs.

Meredith: Exactly!! Garrett would never have made that mistake.

Don: You are a cruel person. Being adorably charming does not allow you to get away with anything you want.

Meredith: Well, sometimes it does.

Don: (sigh).