Many in the media (local and abroad), as well as across the blogosphere, have taken a simplistic view on how Jason Garrett will retain his job following this upcoming season, stating one of two qualifiers:
He either has to make the playoffs, or he has to do better than 8 and 8.
While I understand that should he be dismissed, one (if not both) of the above probably did not happen, I believe this is taking a rather myopic approach to how a Head Coach is graded as far as their performance over an entire season.
There are quite a few issues that can occur within a season to derail a team's win/loss ratio and/or playoff chances, regardless of the job the Head Coach does. Injuries in particular, especially to key positions such as QB, could play a huge role in a losing season. Does anybody expect Weeden to take this team to a record better than 8 and 8, much less the playoffs? Lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball is the reason many within the media have already picked the Cowboys to go 8 and 8 - or worse - no matter what Garrett does.
Jerry Jones has made it clear. He wants Garrett to oversee the team as a whole, as opposed to leaning towards offense, which means that much of the defense, special teams and offense's success or failure falls on the coordinator's shoulders, in terms of play calling, and the actual players in terms of execution. Granted, Jason will likely have his hand in everything, but at the same time, if one unit out of three doesn't perform as it should, it will be difficult to just point the finger at Jason…at least for me.
This line of thinking set me to questioning the most important attributes of a Head Coach and, furthermore, how their successes and failures are measured; how do we truly determine a Head Coach's value?
Organizationally, I think most agree that the culture has improved over Garrett’s tenure. Despite the occasional low-risk / high-reward chances taken on less-than-RKG material players, for the most part, he has placed an emphasis on filling the locker room with guys who have Team Captain on their resume, a high level of passion for the game of football, willingness to put in work both on and off the field, and for the betterment of the team, men who support each other in that ambition. Or, at least, so it seems. And just so there is no further confusion, RKG doesn't mean country-club-membership-touting boy scout/choirboy who spends his time off looking for opportunities to help old ladies across the street.
While I am certainly guilty of yelling at the television for certain plays called in situations where Garrett has in the past tried to be, in my opinion, so clever he out-smarts himself, the offense, especially these past two seasons, has not been the issue that has handcuffed this team to mediocrity. I am not attempting to dismiss blame from Garrett for how the Special Teams and Defense has performed; I am simply stating that the X’s and O’s of this game have not been his issue and, therefore, likely are not going to be the reason Garrett is dismissed following this next season.
Obviously, Wade's team made it easy to see that it was time for him to be replaced...they quit. But I really can't say that I've seen that level of quit since Wade left. For the most part, this team has battled, losing by seven points or less the majority of the time since Garrett took over for Wade in 2010.
Garrett lost 3 games,
all of which were by 3 points or less:
Saints by 3
Eagles by 3
Cardinals by 1
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 7 points or less:
Ravens by 3
Giants by 5
Falcons by 6
Redskins by 7
Saints by 3
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 6 points or less:
Jets by 3
Lions by 4
Patriots by 4
Cardinals by 6
Giants by 3
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 3 points or less:
Chiefs by 1
Broncos by 3
Lions by 1
Packers by 1
Eagles by 2
My hypothesis is that based on the above information, we can infer his team has not quit on him and have fought to the end. Granted, a few of those losses were situations where teams came back to win, such as the Chiefs, Packers and the Lions from last year, but I do not believe that was a result of the team quitting.
Admittedly, I still hold Jason responsible for those losses because I honestly believe play calling and in-game management had more to do with it than anything. However, with Marinelli, Linehan, and Bissacia calling the shots for the most part as far as play calling, we should see improvement on the in-game management this season because that will be the only aspect of the game Garrett should be directly responsible for...and even with that, I'm sure Callahan will be backing him up.
So with this host of proven talented coaches behind Garrett in 2014, what can we, the fans truly look at to say one way or another if Garrett did a good job or a bad job?
For me, Garrett's ultimate measuring stick will come when this team experiences those "defecation hits the oscillation" situations.
When things go wrong, how does he, his subordinate coaches and, more importantly, his players handle it? Will they continue to fight or will they roll over and submit? If and when injuries occur, will the next man up be ready? I don't expect said player to completely replace his predecessor; but I do expect him at the very least to know his role, his assignments and execute to the best of his ability. When the football takes an unlucky bounce, how does the team respond? With a fight to get the ball back, or do they allow the momentum of the game to be sucked away?
Obviously, these things are the intangibles that are often times hard to measure and can be subjective from one viewer to another, but still, I believe the people within the organization will know. And that's what I think Jerry Jones will be looking at come season end, with or without the playoffs or a record better than 8 and 8.
Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins
Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.
Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.
By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.
Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.
Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.
Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.
Upgrading the Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?
Despite the displeasure by the majority of fans, the Dallas Cowboys continue to hold things close to the vest with their approach to free agency. It's definitely not the most popular approach and tends to drive fans crazy, but things could start heating up now that the free-agent market is starting to settle.
Looking from the outside in, we can only speculate as to which positions the Dallas Cowboys may prioritize in free agency and in the draft that matter. Earl Thomas and the safety position has been the most popular topic of discussion throughout the free agency process, but it looks as if the Cowboys are narrowing their focus on upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line.
This is just speculation of course, but it's based on the fact that the Cowboys are rumored to be bringing in free-agent offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming. And on top of that, it was announced that two of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are also offensive lineman, Will Hernandez, who is popular among Cowboys fans already, and offensive tackle Kolton Miller.
I don't know about you, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys are certainly focused in on upgrading the offensive line. This absolutely makes sense after what they went through last season with the carousel at the left guard position and Tyron Smith's struggles to stay healthy.
More than anything, the Cowboys need OL depth heading into the 2018 season. There is only really one spot up for grabs at left guard, but the depth across the OL is absolutely depleted unless you want to rely on Chaz Green again.
This is where Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming make a lot of sense. Marcus Martin has the versatility to play center and guard, and has done so already in his NFL career. He could compete for the starting LG position, but if nothing else, could replace Joe Looney as the backup C/OG.
Cameron Fleming could be the more important of the two free agents the Cowboys are rumored to be interested in. At the worst, Fleming would be an upgrade as the swing tackle, something he's done with the New England Patriots throughout his career. But, he could compete to become the starting right tackle, which would kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard.
That's all speculation right now, but the Dallas Cowboys would do what's best for the entire team in order to get the right starting five offensive lineman on the field.
The same can be said about rookies Will Hernandez and Kolton Miller. Hernandez would likely be a plug-and-play left guard if he ended up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick. That would keep the offensive line from shuffling and hopefully solidify the unit for years to come.
Kolton Miller on the other hand would be a lot like the Cameron Fleming situation mentioned above. He can probably tackle on the left or right side the NFL, although some draft analysts believe he will struggle as a LT at the next level.
Of course, there is no way of knowing how much interest the Dallas Cowboys have any of these players right now. But to me, it looks as if upgrading the offensive line is certainly one of their top priorities this offseason.
Is upgrading the OL the Dallas Cowboys top offseason priority?
Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension
For die-hard NFL fans, the free agency period is as fun as any other week in the regular season. It's always a fun experience knowing what team is interested in which player and who's visiting who. Heck, there are websites with "free agents trackers" for people who don't want to miss a single thing.
Seeing the huge contracts some players get and discussing whether it's well-deserved money or an overpaid salary provides football fans all around the league with fun football conversations in the middle of March.
This is a period in which, despite not being on the field, every NFL team is doing the same thing. Trying to get better. Which is exactly why most Dallas Cowboys fans are frustrated with how things have gone for their favorite team in this 2018 NFL offseason.
Right now, less than a week after the free agency period officially began, they're the only team left in the NFL that hasn't signed a single free agent.
Surprising? Not at all.
Whether we like it or not, we know how this team likes to operate. A quiet free agency isn't out of the ordinary for the Cowboys. For many years, the NFL Draft has been the priority for them, and they've done a good job at it.
At the end of the day, waiting for the first wave of free agents to pass is smart unless you're looking for a QB or have a huge amount of cap space. When you look at what players are getting, you realize most of them are overpaid. Sammy Watkins got a $48M three-year deal, when he hasn't really proved to be worth it.
I don't think Cowboys Nation would've liked to see the Jones family bring Watkins for that kind of money. Personally, I don't mind the Cowboys' front office letting those first expensive signings occur without them participating in them.
I mean, they've already made a splash, when you think about it. DeMarcus Lawrence was the biggest non-QB free agent of the year and they managed to keep him for at least next season. It's not exactly a free agent signing, but they are paying one of the NFL's best pass rushers more than $17M to wear the Star one more year.
Yes, the Cowboys' team-building philosophy is comprehensible. But when do fans like you and me stop understanding their offseason approach and get bothered by it? To me, that frustration came in the form of Tyrann Mathieu signing with the other NFL team in Texas.
If the Honey Badger had signed a super expensive contract, I'd be fine with the Cowboys passing on him. But Houston was able to get him for just seven million dollars on a one-year prove-it deal.
Mathieu is one of the best defensive talents in the league and will be just 26 years old when next season begins. Why didn't the Cowboys tried to land him, if safety is a position of need? I mean, we've been talking about a potential trade for Earl Thomas all year!
Were they hesitant just because the Honey Badger isn't your traditional safety? Are they so conservative that their reason to not go after him was he wasn't a scheme fit? When you're talking about a talent like his, I think you make things work to see him thrive along young and promising cornerbacks like Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie.
The Cowboys can still look at Tier-2 free agents such as TE Eric Ebron or S Kenny Vaccaro over the following days. It could end up working for them, or it could end up just like Nolan Carroll's horrendous game versus the Broncos in week 2 of the 2017 NFL season and his $2M in dead money for this year.
When it comes to the Cowboys' approach to free agency, there's a very thin line between comprehension and frustration. Maybe, just maybe, they make us understand next season when we see results on the field.
For now though, it's tough to stay in the "comprehending" side of things.
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