The greatest teams in NFL History have unshakable foundation at the most important positions - Quarterback and Head Coach. The truly elite teams in NFL History have pillars of stability here, but more than the great teams they have an unbreakable bond between the two. It's what the World Champion New England Patriots have in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It's what the Dallas Cowboys used to have in Tony Romo and Jason Garrett, until everything fell apart.
During the recent NFL Combine Jason Garrett was interviewed by NFL Network's Melissa Stark and Steve Mariucci. At the beginning of the interview Melissa and Mooch question Jason Garrett about something he stated during one of his portions with the media, that he hadn't spoken to quarterback Tony Romo since the season ended.
Mariucci playfully jokes about how preposterous this is and proceeds to grab his iPhone, saying that he's going to FaceTime Tony Romo. This is a move that a lot of celebrities are seemingly making these days as Jimmy Kimmel got to FaceTime with Romo before hosting the Oscars, but when this particular call happened Jason Garrett turned a shade of red that would make his hair look dark.
Ultimately Tony Romo doesn't answer the call and an obviously relieved Jason Garrett goes on with the rest of the interview, but the question really is one that most members of Cowboys Nation have asked themselves since seeing/hearing about this - how have Jason Garrett and Tony Romo not communicated at all since the season ended?
"Yea I just haven't... you know, I don't talk to a lot of players this time of year." -Jason Garrett when asked about why he hasn't spoken with Tony Romo since the Dallas Cowboys season ended.
This interview took place on March 2nd, and I'm here to tell you that the dish Jason Garrett served in it is a whole bunch of bologna. Here's why.
March 8th, 2014: North Carolina At Duke
Over the last few years - yes, years - we've seen that Tony Romo and Jason Garrett have an affinity for Duke basketball. This affinity is made all the more large by their relationship with Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Duke rivalry with the University of North Carolina is one of the best that sports has to offer, and in 2014 Tony Romo and Jason Garrett took it in together in person.
This game happened on March 8th, 2014, but Jason Garrett told us on March 2nd, 2017 that he doesn't typically talk to a lot of players this time of year... right? That can't be possible then because the dates match up so similarly. Maybe he meant in terms of the NFL calendar?
To be totally fair to Jason Garrett the 2014 NFL Combine took place February 19th through 25th, so this was a good while after the NFL point-in-time in which he's referring to, but it is worth noting that Free Agency began in 2014 just three days after this photo was taken.
March 2015: Another Duke Trip, With Double The Party
One year later the Cowboys were coming off of a painful Divisional loss in Green Bay - where Dez Bryant definitely caught it - and had an offseason decision to make between essentially re-signing Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray.
It was the latter that joined Romo, Garrett, and Jason Witten as the foursome spent a few days at Duke and took in the annual UNC game on March 5th, 2015. The annual Scouting Combine was the previous February (17th through 23rd) as it had been a year before, but NFL Free Agency didn't begin until March 10th, 2015.
We see here again that not only is Jason Garrett with Tony Romo in back-to-back years around the calendar time he suggests that he's not with any players, but he's actually with multiple players. We now have two prime examples of "Whoa Coach, what are you talking about?" to chin-scratch over; however, there's one more.
March 28th, 2016: A Jason Garrett Birthday Trip To The Boss
The third March of Romo/Garrett shenanigans didn't involve a high-quality college basketball tilt, but instead a special 50th birthday present for Coach Garrett to go see Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden.
For some reason Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Jason Garrett were at the @springsteen show tonight at MSG
Of course with DeMarco Murray having lost his mind an offseason before when he went to Philadelphia, he was not part of the special club's little trip in 2016. We did however see Romo, Garrett, and Jason Witten rocking out to one of the best music has to offer.
The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine was February 23rd through February 29th and Free Agency began on March 9th, so the 2016 'Boys Trip took a little longer to happen than in years prior. The fact of the matter though is that Jason Garrett does indeed hang out with players - let alone Tony Romo specifically - around this time of year, while he told Melissa Stark and Steve Mariucci that he did not.
It's an unfortunate reality that the relationship between Jason Garrett and Tony Romo is seemingly not as strong as it once was. It's understandable though for all of us when you consider the events that have transpired since "Born In The USA" was sung by the most iconic members of America's Team. Also for what it's worth this year's Duke/UNC game at Chapel Hill took place four days after the Super Bowl, so it may have been more difficult to attend than in year's past, plus you know the whole fractured relationship thing.
The fate of Tony Romo is one that is still up in the air, and a road that appears to have no end in sight. This has been one of the more exhaustive things that Cowboys fans have had to go through in quite some time as it has been an emotional roller coaster full of debate along the way. Whatever happens with Tony Romo though, it's fair to assume that things will never be the same between him and Jason Garrett.
Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
The Dallas Cowboys are not only breathing in playoff contention, but they're now the favorites to crown themselves as the NFC East champions in 2018. It's pretty impressive how the tables can turn so quickly in the NFL. Dallas played very well against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and we learned quite a bit from them as they bounced back to .500. Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday! Enjoy it as much as you did Brett Maher's game winning field goal a couple of days ago.
Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
Despite taking steps in the right direction, it's impossible to compare this offense to units like the Chiefs, Saints and Rams. However, it's the Cowboys' defense that could be labeled as a championship unit. Facing an offense with such a strong WR core, allowing only one touchdown on the road is impressive.
The Cowboys sacked Matt Ryan three times and were constantly causing pressures. Byron Jones was great once again, allowing only two catches in passes thrown in his direction. And of course, the kid who's been impressing us all, Leighton Vander Esch continued to play out of his mind. He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner at this point.
The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the NFL right now, and any offense will have a tough time facing them. It'll be intriguing to see if they can take the next step and stop a high-powered unit like the Saints in a few days.
Offensive Line Woes Are Gone
The offense has improved a lot the last couple of games. Although there is still a lot to work on, they're not struggling as they were in the first half of the season. The offensive line is a huge part of this. With Marc Colombo at OL coach, things have looked very different in Dallas.
Ezekiel Elliott: "I feel great. I feel fast. I feel physical. I feel very comfortable with the running schemes. We just got to keep rolling. That's what's important. We just got to keep rolling.
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a roll the past two weeks and his comments regarding how he feels about the running schemes shouldn't go unnoticed. The offensive line wasn't playing as well as they are right now earlier in the year. Dak Prescott is noticeably more comfortable in the pocket.
It's intriguing to know what will happen at left guard for the Cowboys. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Su'a-Filo has done a good job filling in for him. Williams has the upside, but should Dallas mess up the mojo this OL has lately?
Dak Prescott: Clutch QB
Dak Prescott continues to be criticized by fans while he keeps proving us why it's not that easy to move on from him. The guy is far from the perfect passer, yet he's been clutch time and time again. This time he did so on the road on an impressive two minute drill.
With 1:46 on the clock, Prescott marched his team down to the Falcons' 24 yard line. He managed to give his team another game winning drive in consecutive weeks. The Cowboys' young quarterback needed a confidence boost and this is perfect for him. He needs to keep it up if the team is going to finish the season as the NFC East champions.
Since entering the NFL, Dak has 12 game winning drives. As frustrating as his play is at times, he will not be easy to replace if the Cowboys decide to move on from this guy down the road. Hopefully, they don't have to. I, for one, believe Dak can be way better with a proper coaching staff. But that's a discussion for another day.
Now, it's time to celebrate the Cowboys' victory and get ready for a short week as the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Geoff Swaim Needs Surgery, Should the Cowboys even use a Tight End?
Well, the injury woes continue to mount for the Dallas Cowboys with news coming down this evening that Tight End Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist in the 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The injury will need surgery which will mean Swaim will be out a while, if not for the rest of the season.
Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist yesterday and is going to need surgery. Sounds like it might not be season-ending, but he won't be available Thursday #cowboyswire
In previous seasons this wouldn't be much of a blow to the offense, but Geoff Swaim has been the only tight end that the Cowboys have ben able to rely on this season. Dalton Schultz is a rookie, Blake Jarwin's been inconsistent, and Rico Gathers still isn't fully trusted. With the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's insistence on using a tight end, it seems there's a huge hole at the position heading into Sunday's first place showdown with the Washington Redskins.
But in reality, is there?
For weeks, I've been screaming for this team to use more 10 personnel (one running back and zero tight ends) as its primary passing formation because it gets their best pass catching weapons on the field at the same time. Swaim has been solid and consistent in his first year as a starter, but the rest of the tight end group has disappointed. So why even run a tight end out on the field.
The Dallas Cowboys have options that could replace the tight end in the passing game without actually using a tight end.
First, they could use Noah Brown as the de facto tight end. He's been one of the best blockers on the team in his first two seasons with the team and this is the type of role he's made for. Split him out wide and motion him in tight when you want to run. He can be a threat down the seem and in the red zone with his athleticism. He'd be a mismatch for the linebackers that try to cover him and could open space underneath for Cole Beasley. Brown is also a really good run blocker, so having him on the field doesn't negate what you want to do in the run game.
The other player the Cowboys coaching staff could work into more of the tight end route responsibilities is Allen Hurns. Hurns is a really good route runner, especially in the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys haven't received a lot of production. You can put Hurns in as the fourth wide receiver and split him a couple of yards off the tackle to give him a cleaner release than a TE might get and have him run "Y-option," shallow post routes, or drags. He can be a threat in the passing game if put in situations where he can excel. See below for something Allen Hurns does really well.
In fact, by going four wide receivers with Brown or Hurns on the field, it's possible the opposing defense is forced to run more of dime packages against the Dallas Cowboys 10 personnel.
Why would you want to get teams into dime packages?
Most NFL teams have two pretty good linebackers that they can deploy in nickel situations, but teams rarely have four corners that they can put on the field and feel really good about. So, if you can force teams to remove one of their 11 best players for a backup corner back or safety, you are already winning that matchup.
That matchup would also get you into much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. Even if the opposition put seven or eight in the box, it would be against smaller personnel like corners and safeties instead of a second linebacker.
Running 10 personnel as their base offense moving forward would be unconventional, but with an opportunity to take control of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving, now is not the time for conventionality.
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on Personal Leave; Team Offers Support
Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup suffered a personal tragedy on Sunday, being informed that his brother committed suicide. He is now on personal leave away from the team, and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have given their full support to Gallup during this difficult time.
According to reports, Gallup was unaware of his brother's death until immediately after the Cowboys' win over the Atlanta Falcons. Michael did not return with the team to Dallas and remained in Atlanta to be with his family.
A formal statement was made by owner Jerry Jones yesterday regarding Gallup:
“Our team and our entire organization are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s loss. His family is our family. We share in the grief and pain that comes with something so personal and tragic. We offer our support, care and comfort for Michael, and we ask that all of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters join us in keeping Michael and his wonderful family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Throughout his time owning the Cowboys, Jerry has built a reputation for personal loyalty and compassion with his players. His head coach is no different.
As he addressed the media Monday, Jason Garrett did not get into football matters when addressing Gallup's situation:
“This is a very challenging time for him. We’ll take it moment by moment, day by day, and give him all of our love and all of our support.”
While Michael is certainly dealing with something far more important than football, his availability for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins does come into question.
The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for Washington, and Gallup has started their last five games. If the rookie has to sit, which seems probable given the timeframe, we can expect more playing time for Allen Hurns and Noah Brown.
Whatever happens happens on that front. Our focus is on Michael Gallup during this sad time, with him and his family in our collective thoughts as Cowboys fans and fellow humans.
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