When you’re the coach of America's most popular sports team, you can count on being the most ridiculously scrutinized coach in every way possible. Every single thing he says, does; places he goes, people will have something to say about it. Jason Garrett should be use to it by now, so to see people say he's not a good coach is one thing, but to say he's one of the worst in the league... Really?
Jason Garrett has been the head coach since the midway point of the 2010 season, after taking over for Wade Phillips. JG had never been a head coach before - as most of you know - and since 2010 his actions and lack thereof have made many people scratch their heads and wonder 'what the heck is this guy doing?'
I’ll be the first one to admit it - I’ve wondered about this guy.
Remember the Ravens game in 2012? What about the Cardinals game where he iced his own kicker and lost the game. That’s just two samples of more than a few, and he deserved the flack he caught from those mistakes.
Although he’s made mistakes, is he really one of the worst coaches in the NFL?
Mike Sando from ESPN took a poll with 30 NFL insiders (ESPN Insider members can find a link to the original piece on DallasNews.com's article) and revealed that Garrett was viewed as one of the worst head coaches in the league - #30 out of 32 to be exact. If this poll was given to fans, okay, I'd expect that kind of result. But to give this poll to people who get paid to be NFL insiders and still get those results? Folks, that’s comical, really it is.
Please understand that I’ve used some colorful words before and after Jason Garrett's name. Words that we teach our children to never say and words our mothers somehow never failed to understand as, "I'll have a bar of soap, please."
So I’m not going to sit here and say JG is the best head coach in this league, but I’m certainly not saying he is one of the worst coaches either.
I’ve been watching football since I was about five years old, and really started studying the game at the age of 8, so that’s 37 years of watching this wonderful game. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly more than a few times. I'd like to think I know a thing or two about it. In saying that, there is no way that Jason Garrett is one of the worst coaches in the National Football League.
Now some of you agree with that poll, and that’s fine. I understand. I get it. You look at the bottom line, wins and losses, right? And there’s nothing wrong with looking at it like that. It's just that things are never as black and white as they seem.
Jason Garrett has led this team to three consecutive 8-8 seasons; can’t get more mediocre than that. Now is Jason Garrett solely responsible for that? No, he’s not. Does he have a hand in it? Yes, of course he does.
But let’s take a gander at some of the things that have happened that Jason Garrett has to deal with.
Take a look at the 2010 roster, when Garrett took over.
- An aging offensive line that was on their last leg.
- A 2009 draft class that was an absolute joke.
- A defensive scheme everyone had figured out.
- Not to mention players who should have retired already or shouldn’t have even been on the team in the first place.
So he basically inherited a hot mess. Now, take a look at the 2011 roster.
- You still see an older player here or there, but you should start to notice a lot of the players who shouldn’t have been on the team to begin with are starting to disappear.
- But still, this roster had holes on the offensive line, defensive line, at safety and at corner.
- And to top it all off, he had to deal with a huge number of injuries.
However, in week 17 of the 2011 season, the Cowboys still had a chance to win the NFC East and get into the playoffs.
Now go look at the 2012 roster and 2013 roster. You see not only new players, but you see new players with talent. But you should also see the number of guys the team had to bring in because of so many injuries in 2012 and 2013. But again, he was able to lead the team into week 17 of both seasons with a chance to win the division and get in the playoffs.
People are upset that this team didn’t do better because of all the so-called talent the Cowboys have had.
But I ask you to really look hard at those rosters. Yes, you see some good skill-position players but look on the defensive line and in the secondary. Heck, look at the offensive line during that time. Yeah we had Tyron Smith, but who else was there before Travis Frederick last season? A mess, that’s what was there.
Jason Garrett, for all the faults he has, was still able to get the most out of each team, each season, to where they had a chance to make the tournament. No matter the injuries or for rebuilding the roster, he was able to get this team to a point where they had a chance.
People are angry about the .500 records and I laugh at that because I think this team was lucky to get 8, thanks to injuries and a lack of talent.
Besides a roster that was declining and the countless number of injuries, he’s had to deal with Jerry Jones. I love Jerry but let’s be honest - Jerry has made some horrible choices on players, and on how he wants this team run. Not to mention all the eye rolling comments that come out of his mouth, especially as of late.
Now you tell me, is a coach that’s had to rebuild his roster, overcome dozens of injuries - not just to starters mind you, but 2nd and 3rd string players as well - put up with an owner some believe is in dire need of institutionalization, and somehow leads this team to the brink of the playoffs each of the last three seasons; is he really one of the worst coaches in the league?
I think you all know the answer to that. Follow me on Twitter (@bleatherman2011)
Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II
Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.
In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:
It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.
Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.
The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.
Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.
The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.
Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.
Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time. I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.
Back to the chart.
Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.
So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.
Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.
When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.
At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.
If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.
Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.
The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III."
Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.
The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.
Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.
43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.
I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.
But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.
The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.
Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.
I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.
I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.
"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.
Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
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