Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wants no part of any discussion about his contract situation or the job he’s done this season.
He’s too busy focusing on the next practice, the next day and the next game to take a broad view of things.
Besides, while the Cowboys have exceeded expectations with a 7-3 mark at the bye, they haven’t accomplished anything.
No division title. No playoffs. No nothing.
So excuse Garrett if he refuses to pat himself on the back or get caught up in the good feelings of the Cowboys proving naysayers wrong.
It’s a pretty sight, but he has promises to keep and miles to go before he sleeps.
Garrett and the Cowboys hope the Nov. 23 battle against the New York Giants propels a final six-game run into the playoffs.
“I don’t know that this is the time to pull back and make any grand evaluations of things.” Garrett said. “We really don’t get caught up in those kinds of things. We’re going to get away from it for a few days and then get back and get ready for our preparations for the Giants.”
His mundane day-to-day process has become infectious. The entire team sounds like Garrett when they talk about focusing on practice today and taking it one game at a time.
It has spawned an attitude of resilience, dedication and attention to detail that has played as a big of a role in the Cowboys’ success as running back DeMarco Murray leading the league in rushing.
It’s something that’s not lost on owner Jerry Jones.
Garrett remains a coach in the final year of his contract. But he is no longer on the hot seat, and he could be hardly described as a lame duck anymore.
The Cowboys have not had any new talks with Garrett’s agent, David Dunn, about a long-term contract extension.
But it’s a matter of when, not if at this point.
Jones said he believes the Cowboys are finally benefiting from the growing pains Garrett endured the past three and half years that included a 29-27 record and three consecutive 8-8 seasons.
“We haven’t agreed, but I will say this: Jason, when we started back in the spring, certainly he’s got a lot more positive attributes,” Jones said. “But he had more last spring than he had the spring before — that’s what you get with him. It’s one of the logical reasons why you would have a good future in mind for him. Especially since we’re having the success we’re having, and we should think about it.”
Jones has always envisioned Garrett as his Tom Landry, the first legendary Cowboys coach who manned the sidelines for 29 years. Landry took the Cowboys to the Super Bowl five times, winning two, and authoring 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1966-1985.
Few remember that Landry went 0-11-1 his first season in 1960 and had five consecutive losing seasons before finishing 7-7 in 1965.
The Cowboys benefited from 1966 on for the early struggles Landry had as a young coach with a new organization.
Garrett, 48, is still relatively a young coach. He coached quarterbacks for the Miami Dolphins for two years before becoming the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator in 2007. He took over as head coach after Wade Phillips was fired midway through the 2010 season.
Garrett has grown dramatically since and will continue to grow, Jones said.
“I think Jason is going to be a better coach five years from now than he is today,” Jones said. “And I think he’s a much better coach today than he was five years ago. He’s a growing, smart, hard-working coach that is really getting some great experience.”
Arguably, the biggest testimony to Garrett’s growth and leadership is the way he has been able to manage a veteran coaching staff with five former head coaches while also massaging a few sore egos.
The list of former head coaches on the staff includes passing game coordinator/play-caller Scott Linehan, offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, receivers coach Derek Dooley, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and assistant head coach Monte Kiffin.
All have more experience than Garrett but have become good leaders and foot soldiers under his authority.
Even issues of potential divisiveness in the off-season have been non-factors. Callahan was demoted from play-caller in favor of Linehan and then was blocked from leaving to join another team. Kiffin was demoted from full control as defensive coordinator in favor of Marinelli.
It says a lot about the coaches for buying in and not rocking the boat, but it also says a lot about Garrett and has leadership to meld it all together.
Just don’t ask him about it. Now is not the time.
There is still much work to do, as the Cowboys haven’t accomplished anything yet.
While the scene at 7-3 is lovely and deep, he has postseason promises to keep and miles to go before he sleeps.
“Oh I feel very good about our coaching staff,” Garrett said. “I think they work well together and I think they’ve done a really good job up to this point. But we’ve got to stay focused on what we need to do to get better as a football team and that applies to the coaches as well.”