Jason Garrett has finally arrived for the Dallas Cowboys
Gutsy. Daring. Gambler. Is this the new Jason Garrett? Following a 29-23 overtime win against the Eagles, the Cowboys coach shows why he deserves your love.
August 25th, 2016 feels like a long time ago. That day was a Thursday. The Dallas Cowboys lost their quarterback, Tony Romo to another back injury that day.
Things were looking bad. Things were looking (and feeling) a bit like 2015.
I was thinking what you were probably thinking: Oh no, not another season of this again.
I didn’t envision a 6-1 start last August. In fact, with Romo in the line up, realistically I saw a 10-6 season with a playoff berth. At best, Romo would last long enough to lead the Cowboys to a 11-5 finish.
But when Romo went down, things were different. Dak Prescott was lighting up the preseason. The Cowboys held their ground. They moved on from 2015. It was the next man up mentality. Things just might be okay in Dallas.
And really there’s one guy behind the scenes who held it all together.
Head coach Jason Garrett deserves some love. No. Scratch that: He deserves a lot of love.
Prior to game one against the New York Giants, I mentally listed all the ways the Cowboys could screw up their season with a rookie quarterback. I thought about the Paxton Lynch miss. Connor Cook. Nick Foles.
I thought about how I’d scorched Garrett on this platform if the Cowboys were failing at this point heading into November football. I even made mental notes about how I would write it, and my thoughts to void his contract next season.
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The truth was 2015 was a sort of gimme for the head coach and former NFL quarterback. His squad finished 4-12, but many of those games dipped into overtime and were close on the scoreboard overall.
This was despite not having his leading quarterback and wide receiver Dez Bryant in those stretch of games.
Now in his seventh season as the head coach of the Cowboys, Garrett has jumped above a .500 mark with 51 wins and 44 losses. He is 1-1 in the playoffs.
There’s still a lot of football games left to be played, but last Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles indicated that the coach has finally arrived. While the country discusses the coming out party of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, and rightfully so, the man behind the sidelines has emerged as one of the great ones.
The 2014 season caught the NFL by surprise. The Cowboys weren’t suppose to be contenders. They weren’t even suppose to be good enough to be labeled pretenders. But excelled they did as one of the great Cinderella stories in recent years.
Fast forward to August 2016, it seemed like the football gods were dosing fans with more 2015 feelings. But we know that’s not true now.
By reaching a 6-1 stance in 2016, Garrett has proven that 2014 wasn’t a mistake or some magical accident that just happened cause the football gods were bored that season. Garrett has built a lasting system, one that players, staff, and coaches believe in.
It was Garrett gambling on a risky, risky fake punt that allowed punter Chris Jones to scramble to his left for a first down. The Cowboys were down 10 at that point, and if Jones had not reached the first down marker, the Eagles were in position to at least jump up on the Cowboy by three points.
It was Garrett who oversaw wide receiver Cole Beasley toss his first NFL pass. A former high school quarterback, Beasley’s pass was just finger tips away from landing into Terrance Williams hands. The Cowboys needed a boost.
They needed to keep the hungry Eagles defense honest. A trick play was dialed up. And though it wasn’t successful, the play was an encouraging one that shows Garrett’s faith in Scott Linehan’s play-calling ability.
Then there was Garrett’s fourth and one call in overtime. After ordering a quarterback sneak, the Cowboys landed the first down and moved the chains. Four plays later, Prescott scrambled around — in Tony Romo fashion — to find Jason Witten alone in the end zone.
With 95 games under his head coaching belt, the Jason Garrett era is finally here. The coach won’t be on the streets looking for a new job any time soon, nor will the Dallas Cowboys be on LinkedIn for the next leader.
It might have taken Garrett seven years to prove Jerry Jones was right to hire (and retain) him, but this particular case proves that coaches can learn on the job, pave through their own mistakes, and adjust.
Garrett has done that, and some.
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I may joke a lot about his frequent hand clapping on the sidelines, but right now, that’s all I can do when I look at his 6-1 Dallas Cowboys.