New voice helps a lot
There is very little in the NFL that is happenstance, but to suggest that Jason Garrett transformed the Cowboys overnight by putting pads on for practice, or drawing up a dynamic game plan, is missing the boat.
All Garrett did was give them a new voice — the voice of authority. Wade Phillips was a lame duck, the easy fall guy for a horrendous start. His voice no longer resonated with the team. Garrett may carry the title of interim coach, but for all the players know, he may be the coach next year. And if that's the case, they better start playing like the professionals they are. It's about survival; if Garrett stays and the team continues to lose, players will be jettisoned en masse.
Perhaps they should be anyway. When you look at how they quit on Phillips and turned it on for Garrett, you see the soul of the team. It's not a pretty picture.
Leadership rights ship
What happened when Jason Garrett took over the Cowboys was not like the blind squirrel finding an acorn. Garrett had a vision for this team, and he began to implement it by shaking up the Cowboys and implementing a discipline that had disappeared over time in Wade Phillips' regime.
Garrett shocked his team by having them wear pads during practice last week. He made them adhere to stricture rules, like being on time and dressing appropriately on a road trip. And he made it clear no one was on scholarship. Every Cowboy would have to earn his spot. It was exactly what this team needed. Everyone knew the Cowboys had enough talent.
What was missing was accountability, structure and leadership. Jason Garrett can provide that.
Any given Sunday
Los Angeles Times
It's impossible to know this early whether promoting Jason Garrett will have a lasting effect on the Cowboys, or if Sunday's performance against the Giants was just an adrenaline burst from the shake-up in Dallas. A more plausible explanation is the NFL is completely unpredictable this season, and a team can look entirely different from week to week.
The Broncos get blown out by Oakland, giving up 59 points, then turn around a few weeks later and crush first-place Kansas City. Does that mean Josh McDaniels has finally turned the corner? No, it's a snapshot. Likewise, we won't know for weeks, months, or maybe longer, if Garrett is the right guy in Dallas.
That — and the uncertainty about the labor situation — is why I think he'll get a chance to stick around next season, as long as things don't erode further in the second half of this one.
Out with the old a key
It's not totally a coincidence that the Cowboys, a team many experts had ticketed to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, put a spanking on the Giants, but it is close.
The coaching shake-up occurring — period — was the good attention-getter, especially when the victim was a well-liked man such as Wade Phillips. Jason Garrett, who stuck with the Cowboys when he was a hot property a couple years ago, desperately needs the players to finish strong for him to have a chance to get a full-time job as a head man.
The Cowboys players, if they like him, perhaps feel a little bit of that urgency, but it was the removal of Phillips that had more impact on last week than Garrett's ascension.