The Dallas Cowboys may have 99 problems, but coaching ain’t one of them.
In a season that has been nothing but dismal for the Cowboys, a victory against the New York Giants was a glimmering sign of hope. In Jason Garrett’s debut as interim head coach, there was a clear difference in the way the Cowboys performed as a team.
For the first time in a long time, Dallas played with discipline and good fundamentals. Defensive players were making tackles, offensive linemen were making blocks and were avoiding penalties. The play-calling also stayed precise.
In other words, Garrett has officially brought in a new era of discipline. Gone are the mistake-prone Cowboys who had the fundamental skills of a middle school football team. With just one week, Garrett has re-established an aura of humility and hard work that had been lost under former head coach Wade Phillips.
The locker room appears to have a completely changed atmosphere as well. With “Uncle Wade’s Candyland” officially torn down, the Cowboys are locking down the concepts of professionalism. Under Garrett, new rules have been implemented in Valley Ranch. Players are required to be at practice 45 minutes earlier than before. If players fall asleep during team meetings or show up late to meetings, Garrett punishes them, according to ESPN.
Even the smallest detail, such as a violation of established dress codes, does not seem to pass Garrett. With such a drastic change in the clubhouse, it seems expected that Garrett would be a despised man. By looking at the attitudes of the players, however, it looks like just the opposite is true.
The last noticeable, significant change about the Dallas Cowboys is the way that players talk about coaches, themselves and the organization as a whole. The coaching staff change brought a number of complaints from players at first, but after Sunday’s performance, players were literally embracing Garrett as their new coach.
Heaps of praise have been thrown on the new coach, and players give the impression that Garrett has become the clear leader of the team. In press interviews, players are refusing to divulge private team information. Additionally, players are refusing to give excuses for poor play and are owning up to their mistakes and appear to be genuine about becoming a stronger franchise. That never happened under Phillips this year.
In just one game, Garrett has surpassed Phillips in a number of different areas. Unlike his predecessor, Garrett has gained commanding respect through discipline. Unlike Phillips, Garrett speaks articulately at press conferences with precise thought and clear vision. Unlike Phillips, Garrett seems completely natural on the sideline, walking and talking with intent and purpose.
One game may not be enough to fully judge whether Garrett will be a fitting, permanent replacement at head coach. If he keeps up this good work, however, expect current interim head coach Garrett could be around for quite a while.
J.D. Moore is a freshman journalism major from Honolulu, Hawaii.