Mac Engel

Sans pedigree, Garrett retains Jerry-mandated Landry status

With a win Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, Jason Garrett will secure his second winning season as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Only took him six years.

Coach Process still trails Uncle Wade Phillips in winning percentage. Barry Switzer, too.

Poor Chan Gailey — who went 18-14 with two playoff appearances before Jerry Jones fired him — still must be wondering what he did wrong.

Before the start of this magical season, J Geezy ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 on those First Coach To Be Fired lists.

Now he is the second-longest tenured head coach in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, and has become Jerry’s Tom Landry ... minus the Super Bowls.

Other than their distinguishable heads — Landry’s adorned with a gray fedora and JG’s sprouting red hair that never changes — the two men share one other trait: They run their football teams to their vision despite the presence of powerful bosses, often with a callous undertone.

Tony Romo is on the bench because Jason Garrett put him there. Now a blind dog could have seen it was the only decision to be made, but this was a JG call, and he was the one who hand-delivered him the note.

It turns out Garrett is not so close to Tony Romo that he could not bench him.

Whatever we thought about JG’s getaway trips to SMU or Duke basketball games with Romo, he had the cold-hearted nature to dump his BFF when it was necessary.

By all accounts, Garrett has barely spoken to Romo during the season. Head coaches ignoring injured players is not atypical in the NFL, but it’s counter to their bosom buddies image.

It speaks well to Garrett as a coach, and more specifically to Jerry’s eternal love for his hand-picked Landry.

Much like Tom ran the team despite the giant presence of team president Tex Schramm, Garrett’s greatest achievement thus far with the Cowboys has been to convince Jerry to grant him as much power without the résumé.

The Cowboys are 8-1 because Jason convinced Jerry to build a team based on his vision of a football team, which starts with an offensive line that could pave a highway to China.

This season all Cowboys fans have come to love to read from The Book of Ezekiel and enjoy watching The Dak Knight Rises, yet the real star of this team is the offensive line. The Cowboys offensive line is the NFL MVP, and the men and women who decide on this annual award should do as Ted Cruz once said and “Vote with their conscience.”

Don’t fool yourself — Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Ron Leary and Doug Free are what make the Cowboys go, and the biggest reason they are here is the head coach.

Never forget how badly Jerry wanted to draft our favorite ex-Aggie, John Football, rather than Martin in 2014. That doesn’t happen if the Cowboys were not committed to Garrett’s philosophy to build this team around their line.

“When you invest in a group like they did, where you have so many guys playing at once like this, they expect us to produce and form that identity,” Martin said.

In Jerry’s history of running the Cowboys he has hired seven coaches and only twice previously did he grant them permission to build his toy to their desires.

The Jimmy Johnson Cowboys looked exactly like an NFL version of his teams at the University of Miami. The Bill Parcells’ Cowboys were the typical Parcells team — conservative but big, physical and hard.

The other Jerry coaches — Chan, Barry, Dave Campo and Uncle Wade — did not have the type of personality to push, or convince, Jerry to do something other than what he wished. And what he wished could often be influenced by the last person he talked to, or based on a gut instinct.

Those instincts made him a billionaire, and include an un-yielding commitment to Jason Garrett when so often it did not make sense.

The results under Garrett have ranged from average to bad to good, but as evidenced by the way this team was built to the decision to bench Romo, Garrett has control of this team in a way few men do under Jerry.

And soon enough Jason will reward that patience with his second winning record in six years as coach of the Cowboys.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram