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Jason Garrett’s Seventh Season Raises Expectations

John Williams

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Jason Garrett
AP Photo / Scott Eklund

The Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys almost always seems to be on the hot seat. For Jason Garrett, that has been true nearly his entire tenure. There is a segment of the Dallas Cowboys media and fan base that has been so spoiled by the Super Bowl Championships of the 70s and 90s that anything less than that is a catastrophic season.

For those of us who are a bit younger and/or newer fans of the team, we've seen the flip side of the greatness that made the Dallas Cowboys America's Team.

For many of us, Jason Garrett's tenure has been the best run of success that any of us has known. I didn't become a fan until the Dave Campo era, and we all know what a disaster that was. Bill Parcells was good, but didn't deliver the high hopes for success that many in Cowboys Nation were hoping for.

We seemed to like Wade Phillips the person more than Wade Phillips the football coach, and it's clear that he's much more suited for his coordinator role than as the head coach.

Who Will Be The Cowboys Training Camp Standout In 2017?

Jun 13, 2017; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett watches his team stretch during minicamp at The Star at Cowboys World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to Jason Garrett, whose teams in the early going were very top-heavy with talent and had little depth.

Those first three years were quite frustrating. The Cowboys were on the brink of the playoffs for three straight years, only to lose in week 17 each time and head home early.

In 2014, Garrett and the Cowboys far exceeded expectations and looked primed to advance to the NFC Championship game (and perhaps the Super Bowl), and yet had to go home earlier than we expected.

2015 was a disaster of the highest order. The team was able to hang around until late in the season -- despite horrendous quarterback play -- because of the ineptitude of the NFC East.

2016 looked to be a disaster after what happened to Tony Romo in week three of the preseason when he injured his back, yet again, and the Cowboys turned to rookie Dak Prescott to lead the team. 2016 was a magical season up until the slow start by the team at home against Green Bay that they couldn't fully recover from.

That brings us to 2017.

The expectations for the Dallas Cowboys have reached some epic proportions. While many around the NFL have soured on the Cowboys and decided to follow the "sophomore slump" narrative, many -- including Vegas -- have the Cowboys as a serious Super Bowl contender.

Dallas has been as high as 7-1 to win the Super Bowl next February and now sit with the third best odds at 8-1.

While we all hope for a Super Bowl, the reality is that only one of the 32 teams in the NFL will get to raise the Lombardi Trophy. As we've seen in Dallas in two of the last three years, even when you're the favorite, things don't always go your way.

For me, I don't need a Super Bowl for Coach Garrett to keep his job. There are goals the team must accomplish to keep Garrett and the other coaches off the hot seat.

First, I think they need to have at least a ten win season and a playoff appearance.

With the apparent increase in difficulty in strength of schedule, the Cowboys may not win 13 games again this season. In fact, I'd bet against that. Not because they are a worse team or a bad team, but because they have a lot of good teams on the schedule in 2017.

Getting into the playoffs is the first goal, but once the Cowboys get there, they need to make some noise. Again, that might not mean a Super Bowl Championship, but it needs to mean a deep run to at least the NFC Championship game.

The "Jason Garrett can't win big games" narrative is already out there. In order to douse that fire, he needs to get his team deep and be competitive.

Secondly, I think we need to see some progression from Dak Prescott. There are ways for Dak to improve in 2017, and Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Wade Wilson need to make sure that occurs.

Their jobs depend on the development of Dak Prescott.

Third. The team's defense needs to show, at the very least, slight improvement.

The front office spent valuable draft capital to infuse the defense with some young talent. They need to take a step forward.

Rod Marinelli's tenure has been average at best, as evidenced by the average defense they've put on the field. Known for taking away the football, the Cowboys have struggled in that department.

With the additions in the secondary they've made, the Cowboys should be better at corralling interceptions this year.

With a ton of questions along the defensive line, Garrett will need Marinelli to find another diamond in the rough and for Taco Charlton to be a first round talent.


The Dallas Cowboys look stocked for a long tenure of competitive football with their franchise quarterback, elite running back, All-Pro offensive line, and hopefully an emerging defense.

This is the deepest team that the Dallas Cowboys have put together since the early 90s.

I love the direction in which Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys and I think he will be the coach to lead them to their sixth Super Bowl win. While I think he keeps his job if they come up short in the playoffs again, the time to make that return to Championship glory is now.

As the saying goes, "there's no time like the present."



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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7 Comments
  • Thomas Williams

    YES SIR!,,, I CANT WAIT FOR THIS SEASON TO START….COWBOYS 4 LIFE!!!

    • John Williams

      Yeah man. It’s time. I feel very confident about where this team could end up at the end of the season if several things go right.

  • TreFKennedy88

    I think we get to the NFC title game this season, by the law of averages it’s time they tilt towards us

    • John Williams

      Yeah, the breaks have certainly gone against us the last couple of trips to the playoffs.

      And the incredible plays made against us as well. It’s time for Dallas to be the heartbreaker in the playoffs.

      • TreFKennedy88

        By the law of averages we’re due our victories

        • John Williams

          Nothing is ever earned in the NFL, but I agree, time for the football to bounce our way a little bit.

  • Mr. Jaguar

    I wholeheartedly agree!!

Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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Player News

Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018

A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.

There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire

Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.

Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.

How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.

Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.

With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.



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