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A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches

I’m not much of a reality tv fan. Sure I love Big Brother, but who doesn’t? I’m admittedly still a huge fan of MTV’s The Challenge, but that makes two more reality television shows than I really want in my life. During a casual “What should we watch?” conversation with my girlfriend the subject of Survivor came up.

RJ Ochoa



Cowboys Headlines - A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches 1

I'm not much of a reality tv fan.

Sure I love Big Brother, but who doesn't? I'm admittedly still a huge fan of MTV's The Challenge, but that makes two more reality television shows than I really want in my life.

During a casual "What should we watch?" conversation with my girlfriend the subject of Survivor came up. I sort of scoffed at the idea, but she said to have faith and that I would love it.

I spent the better part of last weekend with a little bit of a cold so I had plenty of time to watch my new pal Jeff Probst teach me about this new game. At the culmination of my marathon there were three thoughts that stood out above the rest:

  • I really want some rice.
  • Rich totally deserved to win (spoiler alert... the season ended in 2000 so is this really a spoiler?).

Thankfully there are plenty of seasons for me to dive into, but I am now a lifelong fan. With Survivor on the brain though, and the 32nd season finale airing Wednesday, I couldn't help but think about someone on the Dallas Cowboys who knows what it's like to be one.

Jason Garrett.

What exactly has Jason Garrett survived, though? Is it the legendary "puppet" moniker that detractors have come up with? Is it his fellow NFC East Head Coaches? Is it the legendary shadow that Jimmy Johnson, who actually competed on Survivor, casted over the Dallas Cowboys back in Garrett's playing days?

Sit down for the Tribal Council meeting while I tell you how it's all three.

Jason Garrett The "Puppet"

Jerry Jones is a legendary figure in sports. People who don't even watch sports know that. I mean, the dude was on Entourage (another show I love, FYI) for crying out loud.

Mr. Jones has a perception about him that people love to translate towards the football team that he happens to own, the Dallas Cowboys.

"All Jerry cares about is money!" you've heard ad nauseam.

"He will sign anybody! If he's got a criminal record, he'll be a Cowboy!" is something you've rolled your eyes at.

"Jerry just wants a coach to be his puppet! That's all Garrett is." seems to have become quite popular during the Jason Garrett era.

Cowboys Headlines - A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches

I'm not here to deny that Jerry Jones loves his football team because he certainly does, but he also understands what he can and cannot do. We're all well-versed in the way Jimmy Johnson left this franchise, and Jerry himself has expressed some regret over that. He realizes where he erred and is now trying to make up for that with Coach Garrett.

Jason Garrett has the most influence of any Head Coach post-Jimmy Johnson in terms of how the team is built. A phrase that is burned into our brains it the "right kind of guy" mantra that Coach Garrett preaches in terms of the people he wants on his football team.

Did Jerry overrule Coach Garrett a year ago and his "RKG" philosophy by bringing in Greg Hardy? Certainly so. There's no secret that Coach Garrett isn't about that kind of player; however, after a year's experiment Coach Garrett won out and Hardy is out on the streets. Things are changing and the wind is turning towards JG's sails.

Jason Garrett: Longest Tenured Head Coach In The NFC East

Those words are not deceiving your eyes. We are at a place where the top veteran among the NFC East Head Coaches is that red-haired leader of the Cowboyga Tribe.

The following coaches have all been fired by their respective teams since Jason Garrett took over full-time as the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. Their records in that time (2011-Present) from NFC East competition are in parenthesis:

  • Andy Reid, fired after 2012 season (12-20)
  • Mike Shanahan, fired after 2013 season (18-31)
  • Chip Kelly, fired right before 2015 season ended (26-32)
  • Tom Coughlin, fired after 2015 season (41-43)

In that timespan Jason Garrett is an even-steven 41-41. That's obviously two less losses than the Giants in that time (four of the Giants wins came on their road to a Super Bowl XLVI victory) and a significantly greater win percentage than the rest of the field.

Cowboys Headlines - A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches 2

What stands out to me about Jason Garrett more than anything is his relationship with Tony Romo. You look at him and Coach Coughlin and there's a common denominator in terms of their sustained success in the NFL's most storied division - a franchise quarterback.

I've dropped this stat a few times, but in case you didn't know... Tony Romo has never, and I mean NEVER, played a game where he was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Every game that he has ever played... has mattered.

That translates towards Jason Garrett as well. Obviously Garrett has coached in games that ultimately were meaningless, but when his guy is in there he's been money. Whether you want to attribute 100% of that to Romo is on you, but Tony himself would tell you that it hasn't ever been him alone.

Jason Garrett Emerging From Jimmy Johnson Shadow

Jimmy Johnson's career record with the Dallas Cowboys was 51-37. Coach Garrett is obviously approaching his total win amount, but he's got a ways to go as far as hardware is concerned.

Coach Garrett knows how great Jimmy Johnson was better than any of us. He played for him in 1993 when the Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVIII after all.

Cowboys Headlines - A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches 3

If there's one thing that Coach Johnson is really remembered for it's for the disposition that he created. Losing absolutely was not tolerated. It was more than a mindset... it was a faith. Jason Garrett doesn't necessarily have the bravado or outward personality of Jimmy Johnson, but he's creating his own culture around the Dallas Cowboys.

The "right kind of guy" thing is real. Jason Garrett likes leaders. He likes team captains. He wants players who are going to come in and be all-stars everywhere they set foot, whether that's on the football field or in the community.

It's not a debate as to whether or not Jason Garrett has eclipsed Jimmy Johnson, because he obviously hasn't as far as football is concerned. What is interesting, noteworthy, and factual though is that moreso than anyone between the two tenures... Jason Garrett is on his way.

The ✭ Tribe has spoken.

What do you think of Jason Garrett the "Survivor"? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

  • Fred Goodwin

    Per Wikipedia, Jason Garrett’s career record is 46-44 (which includes the playoffs).

    That’s hardly something to crow about. “Better than the rest of the NFC East”? OK, but so what? Has it really come down to this? The Cowboys used to make the playoffs every year. We had a string of twenty consecutive seasons above .500, we won five Super Bowls in eight trips., but now we happy to simply have a HC who is better than the rest of the NFC East?

    Mercy, how fan expectations have fallen.

    • RJ Ochoa


      You’re certainly right that Jason Garrett’s overall record is 46-44. That’s including his 5-3 record as interim HC in 2010. I spoke specifically from 2011 till now.

      I’m not at all suggesting that we lower expectations, but I think that you might be having too lofty ones. The NFL is a different time than when those twenty consecutive seasons happened, you know that as well as I do. Jason Garrett has essentially been in the playoffs every year save 2010 and 2015 (when enormous circumstances plagued the team). He’s been in win-and-in scenarios or the playoffs in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. That’s four consecutive years of being seriously relevant. The fact that it’s more than anyone else in the division can boast is what’s impressive.

    • Bryson Treece

      I don’t think I’d go so far as to call it impressive, RJ. Considering the records Dallas had when vying for playoff contention those years, it’s really more of a who stunk it up less question.

      Historically the NFC East has been a tough division and during Garrett’s tenure that has remained unchanged. NFC East teams upset powerhouse teams from around the league and remain in constant competition with division rivals in a way that is tough to match. That the Cowboys have come out ahead as often as they in the division is a good sign, but we all know a coach does not make a team.

      But Randy, expectations have fallen? One article about the leader of this team not being shit doesn’t equal lowered expectations. I certify that the Super Bowl wasn’t harmed by the making of this post. But what is the point of being a fan if you can’t get excited about the team? Not just what they do, but who they are. We’re not following an anonymous win-loss record here; we follow a team of players and coaches and RJ’s words, while sounding a tad naive, are really just his support and fandom.

      Can’t fault him for that, can you? No matter how it sounds.

  • Jess Haynie

    I’m convinced that Brandon Carr keeps playing a Hidden Immunity Idol to stay on the roster.

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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