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The Science of Winning: Jason Garrett Leads Cowboys to 9-1

Jess Haynie



Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

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.

Cowboys Headlines - A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches 1With 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.

Cowboys Headlines - Rolando McClain: Garrett's 1That "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.

Cowboys Headlines - The Science of Winning: Jason Garrett Leads Cowboys to 9-1 1Every 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.

Cowboys Blog - Jason Garrett 2-0 Against the Giants After Bye Weeks 1

Elsa/Getty Images

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.

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!

  • Kevin Black

    This just goes to show how patience can be rewarded. To many teams jettison coaches too early or blame the head coach even though it’s clear the team doesn’t have the talent. You can look no further than Green Bay where they are starting to call for McCarthy’s head, but the talent on the Packers has gotten old and there isn’t enough young talent to replace it with. You could blame the GM, but the league is setup to give under-performing teams access to the better talent in the draft. New England has found a way to win despite that, but not every team is as good in the front office as the Patriots.

    Garrett had a vision and he inherited a very old team that had a few stars that had some youth, but the bulk of the team needed to be replaced, especially the offensive line. Unfortunately, it took too long for Ware and Romo to be a part of it. That’s the breaks in the NFL. At least Ware got his ring. Let’s hope Romo gets his this year and he can play a part on the field getting it. But the NFL waits for no one and continues to march on.

    Welcome to the reality of the NFL and the fact that patience can be rewarded.

    • Jess Haynie

      Awesome comment, Kevin!

      I think so many front offices, be it NFL or other major sports, use coach firings as a crutch to try and placate fans. How often have we seen that this just leaves teams in perpetual disappointment, though? It’s often a short-term solution that creates a much larger, systemic problem.

  • Gary Barrett

    There’s never been anything wrong with Garrett’s message, his in game decisions have been questionable to say the least and at times downright puzzling. He’s shown growth and hopefully all those boneheaded decisions are in the past. Due to the success of the team he rightly belongs at the top of the list for Coach of the Year. Who’s the current competition? Bellichek for sure, Zimmer from Vikings, Eagles coach, you could mention the coaches of the Giants and Redskins to but all of them are behind Garrett for the time being. Bellichek is closest but Cowboys are way more popular when winning and if it continues there’s no doubt Garrett will win. Go Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line

Jess Haynie



Dallas Cowboys Have Big Hole on Offensive Line
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News

There are a lot of positions being talked about right now for the Dallas Cowboys. Upgrades are needed at several spots, but one critical position needs even more than that. Left guard is completely unmanned, and that could be a big problem for the 2018 offensive line if it's not addressed soon.

Last year's starter, Jonathan Cooper, is currently an unrestricted free agent. So are backups Joe Looney and Byron Bell.

Right now, Chaz Green is the only other non-starter under contract who has any NFL experience at left guard. Nobody wants to see him on the field next year.

Dez Bryant may be a big topic but at least he's under contract. The same goes for safety, where we at least have options to turn to if free agency or the draft don't yield anything.

Left guard, though? The cupboard is bare.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

One option could be to move La'el Collins back to guard, where many feel he has the most upside, and then find a new right tackle. But that would be changing two positions to fill one hole, and Collins was playing well at tackle by the end of the year.

And obviously, we don't want to see Chaz Green playing that spot either. Or any spot. Ever.

No, at this point it makes sense for Dallas to leave Collins where he is and either sign or draft a starting LG. The question is how much do they want to invest?

The Cowboys are already shelling out big bucks to Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Even Collins counts about $7 million against the cap. They have three first-round picks already tied up in the offensive line.

Some thought veteran free agent Josh Sitton would be a nice option, but he got picked up by the Dolphins today for about $8-9 million per year. That's more than Dallas can afford given their limited cap space and other needs.

No, the LG in 2018 is going to need to be a salary cap bargain. That means either re-signing Jonathan Cooper or Joe Looney on the cheap, or perhaps paying a rookie salary to a high draft pick.

Last year's 19th overall pick, O.J. Howard, counted just $2 million against the Bucs' salary cap in 2017.

There are some older veterans who could be cheap band-aid options, such as Matt Slauson or Evan Smith. But you don't get very far down some lists of available guards before you see Jonathan Cooper's name, and continuity is always a plus.

The point here is don't expect any big move, even with the enormity of the need. Dallas will likely reach an agreement with Cooper after he's tested the free agent waters a bit, assuming nobody else scoops him up.

If not, the need at left guard will become increasingly dire the further we get into the offseason.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Restructure Travis Frederick’s Contract, Clear Cap Space

Sean Martin



Travis Frederick

Patience is a virtue for football fans everywhere this time of the year, especially those of the Dallas Cowboys. A team known for using free agency to deal with their own expiring contracts and players, Cowboys Nation has been anxiously awaiting an addition to improve this roster before the draft. While the wait will continue for outside help in Dallas, the Cowboys have created $7.5 million in cap space by restructuring the contract of Center Travis Frederick.

Jane Slater on Twitter

C Travis Frederick will restructure his deal to help clear up roughly 7.5M in cap space for the #Cowboys per source informed

Restructuring the contracts of their cornerstone players is nothing new for the Cowboys. Rarely doing so with a clear "next move" in sight, the market for top FA talent at WR and OL may have already passed the Cowboys.

Having the space to negotiate with available players now opens the door just slightly further for Earl Thomas or Tyrann Mathieu acquisitions to become realistic. Reportedly, the Cowboys have inquired about both safeties (Thomas via popular trade talks and Mathieu as a free agent, released by the Cardinals) and have been met with price tags the Jones' were forced to turn away.

Giving up assets for players that will warrant large future contracts is not currently the Dallas Cowboys' way, but being able to sign somebody in free agency has been. To avoid a repeat of 2017, a season arguably derailed as soon as the team's free agent class failed entirely, the Cowboys will need to find proven players that can contribute on the market in the coming weeks.

With the help of the anchor to their star-studded offensive line, the Cowboys can come to this market with slightly thicker wallets now. Keep the optimistic tweets alive, and tip Travis Frederick accordingly.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Restructure Travis Frederick’s Contract, Clear Cap Space" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Player News

Cowboys Place 2nd Round RFA Tender on DL David Irving

Jess Haynie



David Irving

One of the more anticipated Cowboys free agency moves has finally happened. Defensive lineman David Irving has been given the 2nd-round Restricted Free Agent tender, which would result in a $2.91 million contract for 2018.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: the Cowboys have used a 2nd round tender on DT David Irving. The cost is $2.91 million.

If another team offers Irving a contract, that would have to send their 2018 second-round draft pick to the Cowboys.

There was no doubt that Dallas would extend an RFA tender to Irving, one of the bright young stars on their defense. The question was at what amount; they could have gone with the $4.1 million tender which raises the compensation to a first-round draft pick.

With a difference of only about $1 million, some might argue that the Cowboys went lower to entice other teams to try to sign Irving. Perhaps they don't foresee giving him a big long-term deal next year, so want to get something for him now.

It's a logical argument, and one that means there may be more to this story before the offseason ends. For now, though, David Irving's closer to remaining a Cowboy than he was yesterday.

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