Today is the day. Offensive coordinator-turned-head-coach Jason Garrett makes his debut for the Dallas Cowboys in the wake of Wade Phillips' firing. Garrett has had what seems to be an "impressive" week -- and that's impressive based on the recently lowered bar that has been set over then last three and a half years. The fiery redhead comes across pointed and stern in his press conferences. Will that translate to wins on the football field? It's no guarantee, but it's certainly refreshing.
People are making a big deal about the Cowboys practicing in full pads on Wednesday for the first time since pre-season, and sadly this is a big deal. Don't get me wrong, I think that at times giving players a chance to practice in just shoulder pads and shorts has its benefits. It's a long season, and players will wear down. As a result, sometimes an easier paced practice can help keep guys fresh. But when a team hasn't played football the last Sundays anyway (and, no, they weren't on the bye either, *sigh*), sometimes you need to run then ragged in practice. If they show up flat on Sunday, I'd rather it be because they are exhausted from a rougher week of practice than because they just lost the heart required to compete.
The last 10 quarters have been embarrassing. Since taking a 20-7 lead over the Giants a few weeks ago, Dallas has since been blasted away in the second half of that game, then by Jacksonville and Green Bay. They lost quarterback Tony Romo and are relying on Jon Kitna under center. But please don't mistake an injured QB for being the problem. Dallas wasn't winning with a health Romo. They didn't respond by showing much effort without their leader at home against the Jags. Obviously Romo gives the 'Boys a better chance to win, but they aren't going to win anything without hustle or accountability, two areas severely lacking recently.
And that is where Jason Garrett comes in. He can try to rebrand this 1-7 mess. He's got 8 games before the Cowboys try to find John Gruden or Bill Cowher or another big name coach to try to save this thing in 2011, which Garrett has to use his advantage. He has to believe he will get these eight games and ONLY these eight games to show what he has. If he can motivate this previously lifeless team and win 4-5 games in the process, maybe he retains the job next season.
Garrett and the entire roster is on the chopping block. These Cowboys players need to realized that all of them (as well as what's left of the coaching staff) have NO job security this offseason. If they'd like to solidify a future roster spot on the Dallas Cowboys, they have an eight week audition to prove themselves. Do they "Cowboy up" or continue to fall flat?
Garrett is a fine change of pace from Wade, but it has to translate onto the field. That process, ideally, starts today.