Mac Engel

Cowboys’ Garrett should be NFL Coach of the Year

Jason Garrett gets the championship shower.
Jason Garrett gets the championship shower. AP

He will not win the award, but Jason Garrett is the 2014 NFL Coach of the Year.

With all due respect to Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter and NFL savant Charean “Mother Football” Williams, who believes the favorite to win this award is Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals, Coach Process should take this trophy home.

Arians is winning in the football hell that is Phoenix, and he has led a franchise that has existed since 1920 to consecutive 10-win seasons for the second time in its history. And he is doing it with three quarterbacks. Great season, and it is second to Jason Garrett.

Jason Garrett is winning with a quarterback who has a broken back. Jason Garrett is winning with a defense projected to be the worst in the NFL. Jason Garrett is winning despite being secure in the knowledge if he lost this season he was gone. And...Jason Garrett is winning with Jerry Jones as his general manager.

Drop the mic: Congratulations Red.

Before the season began, Garrett was the runaway leader in Las Vegas to be the NFL’s First Coach to Be Fired. There were predictions that he would make it eight games.

Now, he will soon enough sign a large extension that team owner and aspiring head coach Jerry Jones will only be too happy to hand him. If you are not a fan of Jason Garrett, you better sit down: He’s going to be this team’s head coach for at least another three years.

Jerry has not always shown the patience of Job, but on this one his insistence to stick with it, and yield to his coach’s ideas, has paid off.

The Cowboys’ 42-7 whuppin’ of the Colts on Sunday improves Garrett’s record as this team’s coach to 40-31, and gives them the NFC East title. This finally gives Garrett’s patient boss the type of tangible results he needs to show everybody that this guy was the right hire. No, hosting a playoff game is not the Super Bowl, but considering the roster this team handed Garrett in the off-season, no one up to and including the owner expected this type of season.

“It’s a testimony to the staff and certainly to Jason. But it’s a real testimony to the leadership,” Jerry said Sunday. “This really is a great example. Our team had so much to play for and so much to be motivated for, and it showed.”

In his tenure with the Cowboys, Jerry has stuck longest with the Jason Garrett Project. No one, other than perhaps Jason’s wife, wants to see this work any more than Jerry. Perhaps a younger version of GM Jerry would have fired Garrett after three consecutive 8-8 seasons, but the older model said the better play was to remain by his side.

Jerry has always been Garrett’s biggest fan.

After Bill Parcells retired in January of 2007, the first coach Jerry hired was Garrett, and then he shoved him on Wade Phillips’ staff to be the offensive coordinator. The plan from that day was to groom Garrett to be this team’s head coach, and to become Jerry’s Tom Landry. When teams such as the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens offered him their respective head coaching jobs in 2007, it was Jerry who persuaded Garrett to stay as an offensive coordinator. Jerry’s message was aided just a little bit when he made Garrett the highest-paid offensive coordinator in the NFL.

And Garrett never wanted to leave. He did not take the Ravens or Falcons job because he wanted the Cowboys’. He was smart enough to know that eventually Wade would leave, i.e., get fired. The results are not what Jerry wants yet, but to see the type of progress the Cowboys have shown in 2014, considering the expectations, is vindicating.

Vindicating because, last off-season, Jerry figured the better play was to follow the Garrett plan. In the off-season, Jerry gave Garrett the room to hire Scott Linehan as the offensive coordinator, and signed off on drafting another offensive lineman in the first round rather than Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Cowboys offense has been respectfully reminiscent of the Cowboys dynasty of the ’90s, running smoothly relying on the run even more than the pass. The last time a Cowboys offense was this good was 2007, when Garrett was a first-year offensive coordinator.

Garrett, despite his monotone and often boring dealings with the media, can be exceptionally persuasive, can motivate, and his teams have never quit, laid down or mailed it in during his tenure. That’s a hard quality to fire. Equally difficult to dismiss is knowing that the rosters Garrett had to work with in each of his first three full seasons as head coach were the stuff of 8-8.

Few people thought this team was good enough to be 8-8 again, and now the Cowboys are going to host a playoff game, are NFC East champions and Jason Garrett should be the NFL’s Coach of the Year.

Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports/.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof

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