Cowboy Nation, let’s all say thank you to Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. I understand that for many of you, he’s more polarizing than our quarterback Tony Romo. Even with our Cowboys (10 – 4), leading the NFC East, there are many of you that would like to see him fired tomorrow. Digging through some of your social media accounts during the pre-season would likely reveal that many of you thought the Cowboys would be 3 – 11. If the Cowboys have exceeded your expectations this year then take a moment to give Garrett some credit for the team’s performance. Remember they laughed at us for mailing playoff tickets in August?
"“Cowboy Nation often rants about Jerry Jones calling all the shots and not having ‘football guys’ running the place. Now we have Kiffin, Callahan, Linehan & Marinelli in the front offices of Valley Ranch, what’s there to complain about?”"
Bill Callahan has built a talented offensive line that explodes off the ball in unison. We have six and seven guys moving at the snap with synchronized footwork. It’s like they trained with the World Famed Grambling State Marching Band in the off-season.
Rod Marinelli’s name alone was enough to recruit defensive free agents at a discount. There were Bill Parcell guys like Vinny Testaverde and now there are Marinelli guys. Marinelli simplified, yet aggressively modified Monte Kiffin’s legendary Tampa 2 defense. Kiffin is still on the staff and he’s probably forgotten more than any of us will ever know about the defensive side of the ball.
Mike Pope, our tight ends coach that many consider to be “a guru”, was stolen from the New York Giants. Pope stated that our tight end, the great Jason Witten, could continue to improve. He also wanted more from backups James Hanna and Gavin Escobar. Escobar in particular has become a much better blocker to the point that even Witten was impressed. It won’t be long before Escobar becomes our version of the New Orleans Saints Jimmy Graham.
Scott Linehan as passing game coordinator / offensive play caller is learning what his personnel is capable of and added some creativity to the Cowboys offensive attack. The Cowboys are ranked 29th with 30.1 passing attempts per game and 3rd with 31.6 rushing attempts per game this season. It’s hard to stop a balanced team. My favorite throwback stat: In 1995, the Super Bowl Champion Cowboys raised their fifth Lombardi trophy after calling 494 passing plays and 495 rushing plays. That’s why I have been having “Super Bowl” dreams for the Cowboys this year.
Will McClay – Guardian of the Cowboys Scouting Department – is the man behind the scenes of our excellent draft and free agent acquisitions. For the first time in years, the Cowboys only drafted players from colleges with strong football programs. This is what I meant when I wrote – “Don’t look for diamonds in the rough, look for diamonds at diamond mines.” We drafted players from Notre Dame, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Baylor, Oregon, Texas Tech, and Boise State. That led to players with a shortened NFL learning curve. Garrett’s – Next Man Up – mantra wouldn’t be effective without the work of McClay.
Finally, back to head coach Jason Garrett who looks effective as just the head coach. Giving up the play-calling duties was seen as a demotion, but there have been many successful head coaches that aren’t play callers. For example, our beloved Jimmy Johnson had Norv Turner calling plays and Dick Vermeil’s St. Louis Rams team had Mike Martz. Perhaps Garrett’s greatest strength is a motivator of men. He has motivated me this season and provided a sense of calm for our team with simple, short and effective mantras like – It’s a Process; Next Man Up; and Fight. Those are code words in the Cowboy Nation underground.
It’s a Process – has gotten us to this point. For Cowboy Nation, it means that it’s not over and it asks us to have some degree of patience. The Garrett process will make the team better for decades. The accomplishment of short term goals lead to competing long term ones. You can’t lose 30 pounds without losing five pounds first.
Next Man Up – keeps us calm when a player gets injured. Everyone has a job to do and you may not be on the field at this moment. Next Man Up will have you prepared to get the job done when called upon. If running back DeMarco Murray can’t start, I fully believe that backups Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar will get the job done. (Secretly, I would love to see Ryan Williams hit the field.)
Fight – probably one reason the team hasn’t shown any quit. They have closed out opponents with at least three game ending interceptions. This team has held each other accountable and come from behind in a few victories. Linebacker Rolando McClain has been hammering the opposition and motivating the team. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has become a vocal leader and raised the bar for the expectations of his secondary. Both sides of the ball have been playing for 60 minutes and the FIGHT tag lets people know that we are no longer a soft, finesse team.
Two games remain and a new mantra emerges. #FinishTheFight (click for video) – Under Garrett, I’m positive this team will do just that – it’s a process.
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