Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Next Day Rant: Jason Garrett Deserves Credit for Season Turnaround

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Cowboys Blog - Jason Garrett: Born to Run 3
Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News

After three-straight victories and taking the lead in the NFC East, things are looking up for the Dallas Cowboys. Credit goes to a lot of different people, but none should get more than Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Three NFL weeks ago, the Cowboys came out of their bye week and fell flat against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. The drop to 3-5 felt insurmountable given their ongoing offensive woes, especially coming off a loss to the division-leading Washington Redskins.

We've seen this scenario go a different way so many times. A coach who's been in place for several years and a team that isn't performing; so often we see the players "tune out" and stop playing with effort or discipline.

Garrett's Cowboys have never been a team that didn't try their best. Even at their worst, the team plays hard. That is often lost in the miscues, mistakes, and mismatches that have led to losses along the way. You can't say that Jason doesn't have his guys motivated to win.

Ultimately, that's what being the head coach is all about. Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, and Kris Richard are in charge of calling the plays and preparing the game day strategies. But the team's overall mood and mentality, that's Jason Garrett's job.

That's why Garrett is constantly clapping, because it promotes a consistency of positive spirit and atmosphere. Nobody out there wants to fail and the average person doesn't respond to being berated. The days of treating your football team like a military unit are over; modern players don't tick that way.

Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, coach Jason Garrett

Jason was an NFL player until 2004. As a 38-year-old backup quarterback, he got to sit on the other side of the locker room and see the personality shift as players from the next generation came in. These weren't the same kind of guys he played with in the early 90s.

Now it's another 14 years later, and the kids on Garrett's current roster are even further down the road of societal change. After final cuts in 2018, the Cowboys had the third-youngest team in the NFL.

You can imagine how many times those players saw articles and ESPN segments about their head coach potentially being fired. And after those two ugly losses to Washington and Tennessee, even we were starting to believe that Jerry Jones might finally give up on Garrett.

But in Week 10, on the road in Philadelphia, the Dallas Cowboys didn't surrender. With two teams playing to preserve their season, it was Jason Garrett's team who outlasted the defending Super Bowl Champions.

A week later, on the road again, the Cowboys faced another do-or-die situation against the Falcons. Both teams were 4-5 and trying to stay alive, and Garrett's guys persevered in a slugfest.

Things were feeling up, but Cowboys Nation wasn't ready to believe just yet. Many thought yesterday's game would be the big letdown; all that talk about saving the season going out the window with an ugly disappointment against the Redskins.

Dak Prescott, Redskins

But the Dallas Cowboys didn't let you down yesterday. They put their foot on the neck of a division rival and took control of their own playoff destiny.

Credit Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard for coaching up one of the league's best defenses in spite of youth. Watching rookie Leighton Vander Esch shine out there is as much about his own natural ability as it is a testament to the men preparing him for games, which includes injured veteran Sean Lee.

Credit Scott Linehan for improving as the season goes along. He still makes you shake your head at times, but he seems to have finally found the right mix with this offense.

Featuring Ezekiel Elliott heavily works? Hey, what a surprise!

(Sorry, I had to.)

Speaking of, credit Zeke for taking a leadership role on offense. More of a comedian than spokesman in 2016 and stifled by his suspension in 2017, Elliott has stepped up majorly in the locker room this year. It's nice when one of your biggest personalities is a guy who can back it up consistently on the field.

Credit whoever was responsible for dumping Paul Alexander as Offensive Line Coach and promoting Marc Colombo. It's not easy to admit a mistake, especially just seven weeks into the year, but Alexander's style clearly wasn't working and the change has yielded clearly positive results quickly.

Credit Dak Prescott for not letting criticism and failure get the better of him. From the legitimate and objective complaints to the lingering animosity of Tony Romo truthers, Dak is up against it in one of the toughest jobs in professional sports. But the Cowboys QB has been getting better by the week.

Credit the Joneses for going out and making the big move to help their offense by trading for Amari Cooper. So far, that decision is reaping big rewards.

Next Day Rant: Jason Garrett Deserves Credit for Season Turnaround

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

But in the end, all of that is a product of what Jason Garrett has been building in Dallas since 2010. Players want to give their best for him, even when things aren't looking pretty. The front office wants to keep making moves to support him, even if it costs them a future first-round pick.

That's how you get a three-game win streak in November, with two road games and two division rivals in the mix, after a 3-5 start.

Say what you want about Garrett's mastery of time clocks and challenge flags, but he's a natural leader. He knows how to set the mood for his group and also how to reach individuals. He's a master motivator.

We can argue all day about what the key merits of an NFL head coach are. You might still want that "in your face" guy, and that's fine. But just make sure your basing that on the modern era of football, and not your memories of Jimmy Johnson.

Jason Garrett has pulled one of the NFL's youngest, least experienced teams from the brink of disaster and put them in the driver seat of their division. That's a head coach you can believe in, much like Jerry Jones clearly does.

If it all goes to crap from here then, of course, we can revisit this topic. I'm not claiming the guy is perfect, and I was pretty close to jumping off the wagon earlier this year.

But these last three games have reminded me why I've stood by Garrett throughout his tenure. I believe in his overall message and handling of players, and I think it lays the right foundation for a winning team.

Hopefully, by the end of this year, that faith will be even more rewarded.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Advertisement
9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Chuck Wright

    November 23, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    only reason the cowboys needed to “turn around” is an inept offensive game plan all year. We have left 2-4 wins due to our lack of offensive scheme. Why would we give JG credit for Cooper? And make no mistake, this team is different with Cooper.

    Steven Jones deserves more credit that anyone.

    • Kevin Black

      November 24, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Before you give Steven too much credit, it was Steven who wanted to jettison Bryant. Garrett was the last one told about this move and he was dead set against it. He knew he needed a No. 1 receiver, but Steven, Will and Jerry out voted him, although I think Steven influenced JJ. So the Cooper move was an admission by Steven that letting go Bryant might not have been the best idea without a replacement in hand.

      • Chuck Wright

        November 24, 2018 at 10:35 am

        Hmmmm, JG wanted to keep Dez? speaks volumes to me of bad judgement, the man was a freaking cancer. Only mistake there was not getting cooper earlier. Scotty L must go, he’s holding the team back. Good riddance to Dez, sign Cooper with the funds freed up letting Dez go.

        • Kevin Black

          November 24, 2018 at 10:37 am

          Garrett wanted Daz to try and keep offenses honest. Steven felt he was a distraction. Both opinions have validity.

  2. Ddenney1

    November 24, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Garrett and Dak are NOT off the hook!!!! My main problem is the Cowboys doi NOT make adjustments at half time and the CREATIVITY is not consistent!!! Dak is a GREAT BACK UP and Garrett is a good OFF COORDINATOR but neither should in CHARGE!! Even IF they make the playoffs they are in a VERY WEAK DIVISION THIS YEAR! Stranger things have happened like a 9-7 Giants team making the SB and beat Tom terrific that went 18-1 but that IS STRANGE!!!!

    • Kevin Black

      November 24, 2018 at 10:34 am

      There’s more creativity than people give Linehan credit for. There were several plays left out there that did what they needed to do, but the OL breakdowns kept some of it from happening and Dak missing the free man due to having people in his vision also contributed. Is he McVay? No. Not many are, otherwise every team would have one. Although if Linehan was McVay, he’d be tagged as a HC and you wouldn’t have him anyways.

      Now that we have Cooper, you are seeing more space and more creativity, but some of that is also due to the OL handling things up front much better than before. I think more credit needs to go to Columbo than any one else. Dak finally has more time and space to work with. Zeke definitely has benefited from the move.

      • Bruce Hood

        November 24, 2018 at 3:27 pm

        Kevin Black you’re making great since. Ddenny1 please reevaluate what you’re seeing and saying. Dak will be better based on the OL getting its act together. I still don’t have confidence in Garrett because of 8 years at the helm with no real consistent success. He is what he is a coordinator. Our major problem is JJ who is so full of himself and wants credit for everything except being the problem. The only owner who wants and stays in the limelight and really doesn’t have a pedigree for football. That’s why smart owner hire football minds that can produce with consistency and win Super bowls. I believe Dak will be successful with the right football mind around him.

        • Kevin Black

          November 25, 2018 at 1:00 pm

          I agree with much of what you are saying, but know that Jerry Jones is going no where, I’m not sure there is a better HC than Garrett. Jason clearly knows how to navigate the Jonestown political scene. Steven, Will and Jason seem to have the team headed in the right direction given the limitation of having JJ at the top.

  3. Kevin Black

    November 24, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Sorry, but not every team can have a Bill Belichek. If a team plays hard for your coach, that’s a HUGE talent. Garrett might play a bit conservative in some situations, but he’s willing to be aggressive when he feels his team doesn’t match up well. He’s not perfect, but you won’t get perfect with Jerry Jones and JJ isn’t going anywhere. Garrett is the head coach here for a while. Might as well get used to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.

Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.

But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.

What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.

It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.

Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.

How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Cowboys' 2019 Plans?

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.

A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.

However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.

They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.

The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.

Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.

Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.

There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.



Continue Reading

Dallas Cowboys

Xavier Woods Versatility Key in Dallas Cowboys FA Safety Pursuit

John Williams

Published

on

Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Is Getting Better By The Week

There has been a debate going on among Cowboys Nation for more than a year now about the prospects of bringing in Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. Now with free agency approaching, there are several other names that the Dallas Cowboys could consider when looking to upgrade the safety position. Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston are several of the many quality and really good safeties that are hitting the free agent market in a few weeks. It's a group with varied skill sets and abilities, which makes the debate even more interesting. The Dallas Cowboys, however, will be able to take a look at all of them when free agency opens March 13th because of one player; Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods, the Cowboys fifth round draft pick from the 2017 NFL Draft just finished his first full season as a starter for the Cowboys and played really well. In two years he's shown the ability to cover from the slot, play deep, play in the box, be a force over the middle, and make plays on the football. He's one of the more versatile players on the defense with his ability to play all over the field. That versatility allows the Dallas Cowboys' front office an advantage when approaching the names mentioned above.

The Dallas Cowboys don't have to be locked in to one particular type of safety. When people talk about Landon Collins, they label him a "box safety." Earl Thomas is a traditional free safety. Tre Boston is a similar player to Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu is like Collins. The Cowboys can go into free agency with the freedom to explore their options and do their due diligence when it comes to these players.

That's a distinct difference from this offseason to last.

Last offseason, the feeling was that the Dallas Cowboys had to go get Earl Thomas. The safety position was so weak that the Cowboys were going to be playing at a disadvantage in the high-flying, pass-heavy NFL. Xavier Woods proved in his first full season that he can be a productive, play making starter in the NFL and should only continue to improve.

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier Woods was sixth in the NFL in passer rating against among safeties with at least 352 coverage snaps. His 62.8 passer rating allowed in his coverage was tied with Eric Weddle, better than Derwin James, Reshad Jones, Adrian Amos, and Maliek Hooker. Of the safeties drafted in the 2017 draft class, only Eddie Jackson from the Chicago Bears had a better passer rating against than Xavier Woods.

The Dallas Cowboys got a really good player in Xavier Woods and as they get ready to potentially make a run at a big name safety, they can feel confident that whoever they end up signing will be a good fit with Woods. He can play in the box or cover receivers and tight ends. You can run more two deep safety looks, because he has the range to play it.

This year, as opposed to last, they have more certainty at the safety position because of Xavier Woods and the strides he took in 2018. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to take a step forward for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play all over the field allows the Cowboys to be smart and patient in their pursuit of a safety upgrade this offseason.



Continue Reading

Dallas Cowboys

3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

John Williams

Published

on

3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

The free agency period in the NFL will be here in a little more than three weeks and the Dallas Cowboys will begin the annual tradition of trying to put together the best 53-man roster that they can come up with. Free agency is just one part of the equation that includes the draft, the signing of undrafted free agents, adding and subtracting from the roster during training camp, and picking up players after the final cut down day.

You can rest assured that Will McClay and the entire pro scouting department is doing their due diligence in anticipation of the March 13th start to the 2019 free agency period. They'll look high and low for players that can come in and be contributors for the Cowboys. Even within their own division.

Between the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, there are some interesting names to consider as the Cowboys peruse the free agent aisles of the NFL superstore. Some of those players like Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Nick Foles, and Brandon Graham will be new releases that will cost you a pretty penny at the check out stand. Others like Haloti Ngata will be in the used and refurbished section. And then there are those who could be had at a reasonable or discounted rate.

Here are three from within the NFC East that the Cowboys could have their eye on.

Mario Edwards, Defensive Line, New York Giants

The former Oakland Raiders second round pick out of Florida State University has already played for two teams in his young four-year career. That isn't a good sign for Mario Edwards as he approaches free agency for the first time. You don't generally see many top 100 picks get released from the team that originally drafted as they usually wait as long as they can to see if the player is going to hit.

For Mario Edwards, he found himself caught in a numbers game and outplayed by two rookies in Oakland's training camp in 2018, leading to his release. It also sounds like the Raiders couldn't quite figure out where to put him on their defensive line.

We know that the Dallas Cowboys love looking around the league for those reclamation projects. Edwards could be the next David Irving or Antwaun Woods. A player that isn't highly thought of, but in the right situation and with the right coaching could flourish.

Edwards has played 14 or more games in three of his first four seasons, missing his second season with a hip injury. He totaled more than two sacks a season in those three seasons. He isn't by any stretch of the imagination someone who is going to come in and replace DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory, but he could be a nice depth piece with potential to see significant snaps both at defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle.

Edwards could be the next Rod Marinelli special.

Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a slot wide receiver this offseason if Cole Beasley is allowed to walk in free agency, which seems like a near certainty. There are several intriguing options on the roster in Allen Hurns and Cedric Wilson that could play in the slot some, or play on the outside allowing Amari Cooper to play in the slot. They could also look to the draft for Beasley's replacement as well. In the free agent pool, there are several interesting names, one of which is Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews just finished his second stint in Philadelphia and while he didn't have huge production in Philly in 2018 -- 20 receptions on 28 targets for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he's a player with a track record in the NFL and could be a "big slot" option.

In Matthews first three seasons in the NFL, he averaged 75 receptions on 115 targets for 891 yards and 6.3 touchdowns in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, Matthews caught 64 of his 67 receptions from the slot, which was second in the NFL that season. In 2015, he led the NFL in receptions from the slot with 81, while also scoring eight touchdowns. In 2016, his final year with the Eagles, he was ninth in the NFL with 53 receptions. So, in those first three seasons in the league, he averaged 67 receptions, 796.3 yards, and six touchdowns. He caught eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for the Eagles in the slot.

He's not the same player that Cole Beasley is, but he's a player that knows how to win in the slot and because of the past couple of years could be a cheaper option to try and replace Cole's production.

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

If Jordan Matthews is the inexpensive option for the Dallas Cowboys in the slot, Jamison Crowder would require paying a pretty penny. Spotrac.com estimates that Crowder could be worth $8 million per year over four years on the open market.

Interestingly enough, he's never been as productive as Cole Beasley or Jordan Matthews, but because of his age and his work the last couple of seasons, injuries not withstanding, he's seen in a more positive light than Matthews.

Crowder is cut from a similar cloth as Beasley. Smaller in stature and uses quickness and speed to win games. As Cowboys fans, we know all to well the effect that he has in game. Crowder, however, has never had more than 66 receptions in a season and has only scored more than three touchdowns once in his four seasons in the NFL; back in 2016 when he scored seven.

Crowder is coming off of an injury this season that limited him to just nine games, 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In his three full seasons prior to 2018, Crowder averaged 64 receptions on 93 targets for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

If for some reason, his market comes in less than the $8 million per year that Spotrac.com is projecting, I'd be very interested in bringing Crowder to Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Each of these guys offers something intriguing that the Dallas Cowboys could use. Whether it's a defensive lineman or a slot wide receiver, they all bring something to the table. The Dallas Cowboys need to approach this offseason with a "go for it" mentality, but if they continue to follow their free agency philosophy, Mario Edwards and Jordan Matthews could be nice pieces to add to the team that offer a lot of upside.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending