You gotta like this Jason Garrett.
OK, maybe not you. But I like the Red J who has surfaced of late. Kind of a defiant Red J, in his own stuffy Ivy League way.
It’s only mid-May, with many months still to go before the Dallas Cowboys are playing real football again. And when those real games kick off, Garrett’s job will obviously be on the line.
Jason knows it. We know it. And there’s certainly nothing unfair about his job security predicament. Garrett and his team and his quarterback have had too many meltdown moments the past two seasons.
But it’s also already been an under-siege, looooooooong off-season for Garrett, who has obviously become the favorite whipping boy for owner Jerry Jones.
We all know Jerry is not going to blame himself for what’s been continually wrong with the Cowboys. We also all know he’s not going to blame Tony Romo.
Publicly, Mr. Jones has not blatantly finger-pointed Garrett, but reading between the subtle lines that Jerry delivers — and man, he’s been on a football filibuster soapbox since January — Red J is the guy in Jerry’s crosshairs.
Remember the January promise of “it’s going to get uncomfortable around here for everyone?”
Well, a defensive coordinator got hacked, and deservedly so. The special team’s coach took another job. A couple of other assistant coaches moved out. So did a few players, but no one of importance.
But uncomfortable? At the moment, that should be Garrett. Except he keeps coming across as Cool Hand Princeton.
From the hiring of the new defensive staff, to what happened in the first round of the draft, to all the comments made after the new Romo contract extension, Jerry has obviously taken full control of the football operation.
When it comes to “my way, no other way” at Valley Ranch, Mr. Jones is now more dug in than maybe ever, therefore reducing the power of the head coach.
In theory, Jerry has made it very uncomfortable for Garrett. It’s a Jerry power trip that pushes Garrett into the dreaded area of Wade, of Barry, of Campo and Gailey.
Then again, when Jason took the job, he took this kind of risk. And there’s never been a head coach here, not even Jimmy, who going in had better inside info on how it was and is to work for Jerry.
Garrett, however, is not backing off or backing down.
The ongoing drill of late has been Jerry making pointed comments, and in a subtle way, aiming those at Garrett. Then we wait a day or a week, and Garrett answers, in also a subtle way, shooting down everything Jerry had to say.
Again, I like this Garrett.
The latest example came last week, at least from Garrett. Over the past couple of weeks, Jerry has had much to say on the expanded role of Romo in all things Cowboy. From the contract, to the draft, to the future game-planning, Tony has been Jerry’s love child.
Last week, Garrett answered on the topic of Romo’s “involvement” in the entire offense, particularly the game planning.
Jason’s hammer came with this comment:
“[Romo’s] voice matters to us. It has mattered for a long time.”
In other words, he’s saying, “Hey, Jerry, Tony has always been involved in the game planning.”
I don’t even know if that’s true. Obviously, Romo has had a say. That goes without question. But there are those at Valley Ranch beyond Jerry who feel Garrett has become a bit dug in when it comes to what he thinks is best for Romo and the offense, meaning Tony’s opinion is heard, but maybe ignored at times.
If so, that’s Garrett’s mistake, except Red J knows Romo better than anyone.
But if Garrett is going out after this season, it’s with his boots on, so to speak (I’m doubting Garrett shops Luskey’s). Jason is digging in, seemingly determined if this is his final season here, he’s going to do it his way on the sideline, the same as Jerry is doing it his way in the front office.
I’m betting that includes Garrett keeping the role of play-caller, a topic that remains unanswered, although Jerry seems intent on Jason giving it up this season.
I’ve been on record for two years saying Garrett would be better off hiring a play-caller and confining his duties to head coaching. I guess that means Jerry and I are on the same page here.
But the subtle defiance from the head coach continues to surface.
It may be too subtle for an Arkansas audience to grasp, but I like this Jason Garrett, even if I don’t agree in some areas.
If this is Garrett’s last stand at Valley Ranch, he seems determined to make his stand, not Jerry’s.