When you hear that a head coach only has two winnings seasons in six years, you probably assume that guy is on the hot seat. You may be surprised he even still has that job.
In the case of the Cowboys' Jason Garrett, though, he now has one of the most secure jobs in the NFL.
With Dallas picking up their ninth win of 2016 over the Baltimore Ravens, Garrett is guaranteed only his second winning record since 2011. It's a testament to allowing a coach to see his vision through, which Jerry Jones has done, and not panicking over disappointment.
What Garrett is accomplishing this year goes beyond motivating and strategizing. Time and again, and perhaps never more than last Sunday against the Ravens, Garrett's football philosophy is palpable in the way that his players are performing in the face of adversity.
Rookie quarterbacks aren't supposed to be as unflappable as Dak Prescott. Rookies aren't supposed to have the mental fortitude of Ezekiel Elliott. Sixth-round picks aren't supposed to play as confidently as Anthony Brown.
These young players continue to thrive with huge responsibility on their shoulders. For Prescott and Brown, far more responsibility than they ever anticipated when they first joined the Cowboys last April. Their consistent performance is thanks in large part to the consistent message of their head coach.
Jason Garrett doesn't get caught up in narratives or big pictures. When asked after the Ravens game what it meant to give the storied Cowboys franchise its longest-ever winning streak, Garret dismissed the question quickly.
"We're not going to spend a lot of time on that."
Garrett approaches football like a scientist; eliminate waste and focus on what gets results. He doesn't spend time talking or worrying about superfluous issues and promotes the same mentality throughout the roster.
That "stay in the moment" focus was evident on Sunday. The Cowboys' rookie-led offense got smacked in the mouth by Baltimore's top-ranked defense early, punting it away three times.
Earlier this year, other teams have come into a game against Dallas with good defensive rankings. The Cowboys exposed those defenses quickly on the way to wins, but this time the ranking was legitimate. The Ravens were for real, and Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were going to have to wipe their noses and punch back.
With the pressure rising, the youngsters didn't try to do too much. They stuck to the science of smart, consistent football. Over time, the Ravens' defense eroded and the Cowboys broke through.
Jason Garrett's message was loud and clear. While these rookies are certainly special talents, that talent is being honed by a coach who played the game alongside legendary teammates and has seen what greatness involves.
Every time Thanksgiving comes along, I can't help but remember Jason Garrett's greatest day as a player. In 1994, Garrett went from third-stringer to headline-maker in a thrilling victory over the Green Bay Packers. You know he's talked about that day with Dak Prescott, who went from third-string to starting QB almost just as quickly.
Garrett returned to the bench quickly after that game, but for that brief moment he practiced what he's always preached.
"Be your best."
The question has been asked to Jason Garrett and the Joneses more than once and in various forms; did you expect to be winning like this when Tony Romo went down?
The honest answer, of course, is that nobody saw this coming. But a guy like Garrett will tell you he doesn't think that way.
If you go into each game practicing, coaching, and playing to win then you don't ever expect to lose. To a football scientist, nine-straight wins isn't a feat. It's just a sum total.
Garrett focuses on the hard work and perseverance it takes to win a single NFL game. He approaches every week the same way and his players are following his lead. That is the real story here; leadership and mentoring setting the basic foundation for grand results.
As of now, Jason Garrett should be running away with the Coach of the Year award. If he wins it, it will likely be something he says very little about. "Being your best" isn't about awards to Garrett, it's about the things that are accomplished as a team.
In 2016, Garrett is leading the Cowboys to do things that no Dallas team ever has. He's leading Dak Prescott to play like few, if any, rookie quarterbacks ever have.
Garrett's science is rewarding the faith of Jerry Jones and many Cowboys fans. There's a lot of season left, but even through 10 weeks it's been one of the greatest coaching jobs I've ever seen.
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.
Star Blog6 days ago
Should Cowboys Stick With Xavier Su’a-Filo at Left Guard?
Star Blog6 days ago
How Cowboys Could Regain a 2019 1st-Round Draft Pick
Player News1 week ago
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
4 Best Candidates for Cowboys’ Next Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Next Day Rant: Dak Prescott Shows Big Flaws in Big Win
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Is Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones to be Trusted?
Player News5 days ago
Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room
Star Blog1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time