Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is finally poised to earn that much talked about extension as head coach.
It’s simple: Beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday and the NFC East belongs to America’s Team for the first time since 2009.
That should pretty much do it, you think?
I questioned aloud whether or not Garrett, in his fourth full season as head coach, was worth that much talked about extension which followed a huge road victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football. That victory revived hope for a Dallas team that had just closed the month of November with a humiliating Thanksgiving Day defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Entering the final month of the regular season, the Cowboys were a mere 8-4 and still not guaranteed to finish with a record of anything better than they have the last three seasons under Garrett. A 23-point loss to the Eagles at home did little to inspire much confidence in this year being any different.
How things can change in just a couple of weeks.
Following that season-saving win over the Bears on prime-time television, Dallas enacted a huge measure of revenge against the Eagles in Philadelphia for it’s second straight road win. This time, the stage was Sunday Night Football, the National Football League’s most precious time slot.
Well, it’s hard to argue against that kind of evidence, right?
Did you really think that this Cowboys team, under Garrett mind you, was going to rattle off back-to-back road wins against those stiff NFC opponents in the month of December?
I’ll admit I did not.
I knew that the Cowboys certainly could, but only because of the power running game established under passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. Still, given Dallas’ lack of a pass rush on defense and a still-young offensive line, it didn’t seem too likely to me.
Yet here we are – or should I say, here’s Garrett.
Regardless of whether or not the Cowboys beat the Colts or the Washington Redskins to close out the regular season, Garrett has shown enough in the last two victories to gain a few more years in Dallas. It’s not like he wasn’t going to get them anyway, but at least there’s a sense that he’s actually earned something as an NFL head coach.
Particularly impressive has been Garrett’s decision-making, takeaway his ill-advised challenge following a 72-yard reception by Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last weekend. A later challenge, which ended up really saving the season, came with just a second to spare as Garrett had to make a huge decision in an instant that gave the Cowboys the ball back due to a fumble that was nearly missed.
The week before Garrett showed some big – well, nerves in going for it on multiple fourth-down situations against the Bears that definitely helped establish the tempo during a badly needed win during Week 14.
Now Garrett and his Cowboys stand ready to face quarterback Andrew Luck and the NFL’s top-ranked passing attack.
Yes, Garrett has been here before and he is yet to deliver a postseason appearance despite three consecutive regular season finales that had NFC East championships on the line.
So, here comes Garrett once again, but this time with thanks to – wait for this – those Eagles from the ‘City of Brotherly Love’.
This time, however, things are different. Instead of a regular season finale that offers a ‘win or go home’ ultimatum, the Cowboys actually have a little bit of wiggle room.
Philly was upset by an aimless Redskins team on Saturday night that probably had no business winning the game. Then again, the Eagles likely have no business in the NFC playoff bracket, which leads us to Sunday’s game against the Colts.
A victory gives Dallas it’s 18th NFC East title and owner and general manager Jerry Jones’ biggest Christmas wish this holiday season – a real reason to extend Garrett as head coach beyond the 2014 regular season.
After all, Garrett would have saved Jones from his longest playoff drought (five years) since having bought the franchise in early 1989.