Mac Engel

August 10, 2014

Jerry selling, but are Cowboys players buying Coach Process?

How much longer will the Cowboys not quit on Jason Garrett?

In his effort to see through the making of Jason Garrett into the Super Coach he knows he will eventually become, Jerry Jones refuses to acknowledge even the remote possibility of the eventuality that happens to all human beings.

If the results are not there for whatever reason, eventually the message becomes irrelevant, making the messenger toast.

Jason Garrett has been with the Dallas Cowboys since 2007, meaning this team has run his offense since that time, and listened exclusively to his rhetoric since 2010.

All of the Cowboys have been under Garrett since he replaced Uncle Wade Phillips in November 2010, meaning they have heard the same message routinely pounded into their skulls every single meeting and every single practice.

Getting better every day. Process. Strong in all three phases.

The fans and the cynical media can tune Garrett out, but how much longer will the players actually listen to what he is saying and do what he is asking — if the results remain the same?

Jerry may appear to be dug in with Coach Process right now, but there is no way he can give this man an extension if the results continue for another season.

Fascinating factoid: Jason Garrett’s tenure with the Cowboys is the 10th longest active in the NFL. Six of the longer tenured coaches have won Super Bowls, two have reached conference title games, and the other is Marvin Lewis of the Bengals, who has been to the postseason. In case you did not know, Garrett’s résumé features no such accomplishments.

Jerry may be the single greatest salesman on earth, but not even he could sell The Jason Garrett Show after another playoff-less season.

I firmly believed Jerry this time one year ago when he said it was not an “Armageddon” season for his coach. I do not believe him this year.

Just watching the decreased numbers show up for this weekend’s workouts here in Oxnard, it does appear as if Cowboys fatigue has set in. The last time this happened was the turn of the century, when the team was bereft of names, and wins.

Jerry has justifiably hung in with Garrett because of one indisputable factor — the players don’t lie down. He may rely on a series of sometimes corny and trite messages to inspire his players, but whatever Tony Robbins-type lines he sells, his players routinely buy.

As much criticism as his three consecutive playoff-less seasons and his 29-27 record invites, he has never lost this team, and they have always played for him.

Unlike the days of Wade Phillips, Barry Switzer or other coaches who suffered the embarrassment of their teams quitting, the Cowboys have never played dead under Garrett.

“That has not been a huge issue for us. I think our team plays hard. I can recall, very vividly, where I felt like we might have been a little overmatched in certain situations,” Garrett said Sunday. “And I felt like we simply couldn’t stop them. Sometimes that can be construed as, ‘Boy, they weren’t playing hard.’ ”

There is no other way to construe that as anything other than an ability issue. There is no other way to construe that as an indirect shot at the GM, who acquired that talent.

“I don’t think the fight issue or the play-hard issue has ever been an issue for our team. We have played so many close games over the last three years; I tell our team all the time we played 38 out of 48 games where we have been within a score of each other in the fourth quarter,” Garrett said. “Our team is fighting and battling and competing hard. Do you need to fight more? Absolutely. We emphasize it every single day in every single drill. But we have had more significant issues to address than that.”

Some of those issues are, undeniably, game management and play calling, both of which fall on Garrett’s red head. Some of those issues are the reality that the guy lining up across from this or that Cowboy is simply bigger, faster, stronger and more talented.

Jerry has, once again, convinced himself that a roster overburdened with “Ifs” and “Please, God” is good enough to make the playoffs, and they will prove to everyone that sticking with Garrett was the right idea. That is all Garrett needs to do to get an extension — make the playoffs.

If he doesn’t, even Jerry knows there is no way he can sell Garrett again because there is little chance the team will tune in for The Process for another year.

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