Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has experienced reaching the finish line as a player. His journey with Dallas started way back in 1992, as a practice squad quarterback. Sort of like another quarterback we know all too well. Garrett, back then, was a back-up to Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman from 1993-1999.
After finishing his playing career in 2004 and then serving as an offensive assistant with the Miami Dolphins for two seasons (2005-2006), Garrett would end up back in Dallas in time for the 2007 campaign…even before the eventual head coach, Wade Phillips. By the halfway point of the 2010 season, it was apparent the players had just quit on old Wade.
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Enter Garrett as the interim head coach and our ‘Boys received a sudden and noticeable jolt of energy for the remainder of the season. Six wins (five of those Garrett’s). Ten losses. Train wreck. But somehow, the future looked bright in the hands of the young, interim head coach.
Three seasons went by. Three painfully average results. Garrett was learning, studying the game. He was building. He knew what he was doing. Garrett knew what it took to build a championship team. Remember, even though he was largely behind the scenes, he saw what it took to win a world title up close and personal. Start from the inside, and then work your way out.
Hello offensive tackle Tyron Smith (2011), center Travis Frederick (2013), and right guard Zach Martin (2014); the final piece of the puzzle. Remember the “Great Wall of Dallas?” Meet version 2.0. Somehow, some way, he was going to get what he wanted. Sorry Sir Jonathan Football.
Garrett had his “process.” But it took some time for the players to fully buy into what he was selling. They have bought in, and the results are loud and clear.
Garrett showed these Cowboys how to fight. He taught them how to respond to adversity. He taught them to trust themselves. Garrett taught them how to close out games. He instructed them to focus on themselves, and only themselves. No trash-talking. No boasting. Just focus. Just ourselves.
Garrett was boring and mechanical on the surface, but he was stubborn too. Sort of like another head coach that used to roam the sidelines in Dallas…for 29 years. Garrett was going to build the team the way he wanted. “Garrett guys.” “Football-loving guys.” “Leaders.”
It all came to fruition in 2014. However, the crushing playoff defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers left a horrible taste in our mouths. Perhaps it was the taste of fuel?
We fully understand there’s still work to do. The finish line has yet to be reached. You think wide receiver Dez Bryant is hungry? You think the “non-catch heard round the world” is going to fuel him going forward? You better believe it, and then some.
Indeed, there is still work to do. That 19th ranked defense needs some love, especially on the front and possibly the cornerback position with the uncertain futures surrounding Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and free agent Sterling Moore. But they closed out more games than they lost for us in 2014, and that was a far cry from the historically futile 2013 unit.
Jason Garrett has now had four and half seasons as the top dog to implement his process. The framework is done. The ground floor is finished. Quarterback Tony Romo will now have a championship caliber team for the remainder of his career in Dallas. You’re welcome Tony. No more heavy lifting for 16 games a season, as he has done for the majority of his career.
The gang is coming back. Welcome back defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Welcome back offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. They all want to be part of this thing. They all know something special could be on the horizon in 2015. This past season will serve as the fuel needed to complete what Garrett started back in 2010.
Last but not least, welcome back Jason Garrett. He taught how to “fight.” He taught how to “finish.” All that remains is putting them both together for another Lombardi run. Here’s to five more years. Here’s to the “process.”