The poor Dallas Cowboys. They have one of the newest and nicest stadiums in the world, but don’t get to play in it once the playoffs roll around. But that could change this season if the NFL and the player’s union get their acts together sometime soon.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was embarrassed by his club’s 1–7 start last year, especially their 45–7 beat-down by the Green Bay Packers in front of the nation on Monday Night Football, and it was inevitable he’d make a mid-season coaching change. Out went the old in the form of Wade Phillips and in came the new with Jason Garrett being named interim head coach.
Garrett managed to turn the team around somewhat though and was rewarded for the turnaround by being named head coach on Jan. 6th becoming the eighth man to take the reins in the team’s history.
Garrett wasn’t exactly new to the Dallas Cowboys when he took over last season though, as he already had two Super Bowl rings which he won while playing for the club and he was also the team’s offensive coordinator, being hired in 2007 before Phillips was named head coach. He’s transformed over the years from a decent backup quarterback and co-ordinator into an intelligent, no-nonsense 45-year-old coach, who’s far from being a Jerry Jones ‘yes man.’
Garrett’s one of those people who makes the most of their chances. As a player, he started just nine games, but went 6-3, throwing 11 touchdowns along with five interceptions. As a coach, he’s gone an unremarkable 5-3 so far in eight games, enabling the Cowboys to finish last season at 6-10.
But when he took over the squad they were an uninspiring bunch with a 1–7 record. The club was going around in circles and was called listless, underachieving, and embarrassing by its fans. It’s only natural that a team will improve immediately after a coaching change, but a truly awful one will quickly revert to its old habits unless there’s somebody there to get them back on the right track and keep them there.
Garrett did this by introducing a new culture and atmosphere to the team which included a deliberate and no-nonsense approach to practice and games. It could be seen as a huge gamble in today’s era of pampered and overpaid athletes, but he starting getting tough with the players by demanding punctuality and starting meeting and practices earlier than they’re used to.
Under their new head coach, Dallas swept their NFC East rivals after they lost to all three of them earlier in the season under Phillips’ guidance. They lost three games, but just by a total of seven points. It was easy to see the improvement in the team, but of course, all the momentum was lost when the season came to an end.
With Garrett implementing a stricter discipline for his players to follow, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to hear some of them blow him off. But surprisingly, most of them said he was direct, to the point, easy to understand, and motivational.
The biggest problem facing Garrett this season will be getting his team out of the starting blocks. If he can get the Cowboys off to a good start they should be playing in their fancy stadium when the postseason kicks off.