Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Jason Garrett Era Has Officially Begun

We all knew it was coming. Reports leaked on Sunday that the Cowboys had already made the decision to hire Jason Garrett as the permanent head coach. They still had to comply with the Rooney Rule so the official team announcement took a few days but it was understood by most that Garrett was getting the job.

From a fan's perspective I think the majority of people are on board with the move. But there is a significant minority who are not happy with the decision. I am definitely with the majority. I like Jason Garrett before he took over as interim coach and I have liked him more with each passing day since he took over.

Jason Garrett is exactly what this team needs right now. He is no nonsense. He sets very clear expectations and rules for the team to follow. And he is constantly upbeat. His approach is to focus on the little things each and every day, and, if you do that, the big things like winning games and winning championships will take care of themselves.

During his introductory press conference today Garrett talked about how he would continue with full pad practices during the upcoming training camp and regular season. A lot of the conspiracy theorists out there who think the Cowboys didn't run the ball well early in the season because Garrett was trying to get Wade Phillips fired are overlooking the importance of practice. When Garrett took over he immediately changed the tempo and the physicality of practices. Surprise, surprise the running game slowly but surely improved from that point forward. High school coaches say it until they are blue in the face because it is true...you play like you practice.

Getting Jason Garrett locked in as the full time head coach was only step one in what is going to be a big offseason of change for the Cowboys roster and coaching staff. I'm expecting a new defensive coordinator to be named at some point in the next few weeks and we'll probably see some new position coaches as well. There are a lot of roster decisions to be made before the start of free agency (assuming a deal is made to prevent a lockout) and the draft is going to be extremely important this offseason.

According to Jerry Jones he is going to allow Jason Garrett to have the final say on the coaching staff and on any player on the roster. We can only hope that isn't just lip service and that Jerry's words hold true for the long term. Garrett needs to be allowed to surround himself with coaches he believes in and who will accept him as the head coach. And he needs to be allowed to acquire players who will buy into the system, work hard, and put the team first.

The Cowboys probably aren't immediate Super Bowl contenders just because they have a new coach, but it sure feels like this move gets the Cowboys headed down a winning path again. Time will tell, but the only evidence we have shows us that Jason Garrett can coach his team to victory. He wasn't perfect during his time as interim coach but I believe he learned on the job and will only be better as time goes on. I think the playoffs are a real possibility next season but only if there are major changes made across the board with the coaching staff and the team roster.

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