For 30 minutes on February 13, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett didn’t act like himself. Garrett spoke to the media for the first time since the end of the 2012 season on Wednesday. He spoke for an hour. But the first 30 minutes were the most compelling.
The media didn’t ask a single question. Garrett just started talking. In doing so, Garrett opened up about as much as I’ve seen since he became head coach.
Garrett talked about soul searching after another 8-8 season. He talked about the emotions of parting ways with former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, making the switch to the 4-3 defense and hiring Monte Kiffin as the new coordinator.
Garrett talked about soul searching after another 8-8 season and the emotions of parting ways with Rob Ryan.
Garrett talked extensively about his time as a back-up quarterback in Tampa Bay — where he met Kiffin, new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and new special teams coach Richard Bisaccia.
He called his one season in Tampa Bay, which came in 2004, a “graduate school in football” and the year that defined his future path as a coach.
He also talked about the process, which we’re used to Garrett talking about. But this time it was actually interesting.
Garrett talked about the process of retaining his play-calling duties when he took over as head coach in 2010. He insisted it wasn’t ego. He said it wasn’t owner and general manager Jerry Jones insisting he call plays, as Jones suggested last month. Garrett said it was a collective decision to keep him as play caller.
He even talked about his brother, John, who was the tight ends coach and passing game coordinator a year ago in Dallas. He lamented the departure of his brother to Tampa Bay but said he knew that there was “no way” John would ever call plays for the Cowboys as long as he was head coach.
Garrett doesn’t often share much with the public, but he did this day. He usually sticks to his message, and it usually isn’t that revealing.
It’s hard to know exactly why Garrett chose to filibuster. But he spoke as if he were keenly aware of what had been said about the Cowboys since the season ended — specifically the perception that Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was calling the shots when it came to the coaching staff.
Jones didn’t help matters much with his comments at the Senior Bowl or at the Super Bowl, but then again, Jones rarely helps matters when he opens his mouth.
But, in the absence of any comment from Garrett, aside from a couple of taped interviews on the team’s website, Jones’ comments and media speculation dominated each news cycle.
What Garrett did — and it was almost savvy the way he did it — was bring context to the last month’s events and spin them in a way that made him look as if he had gotten his way to some degree.
Four of the new hires — Kiffin, Marinelli, Bisaccia and new wide receivers coach Derek Dooley — had contact with Garrett before Dallas. Wes Phillips, promoted to be the tight ends coach, has been on the Cowboys’ staff since Garrett came to Dallas, and Garrett went out of his way to talk about how indispensable Phillips had become on offense.
So five of the six new coaches are “Garrett Guys.” That’s something he’s has never had. Garrett said that these new coaches share his values.
That Garrett managed to get coaches that he can legitimately call “his guys” in a system that is stacked against him (i.e., Jones) is something to behold. Now you may not believe Garrett played Jones like a fiddle last month, and I’m a bit skeptical myself.
But Garrett filled in the blanks as he never had before. Why?
You got me. But it was nice to see Garrett be human for a change.