Forgive me for my tardiness in addressing this issue, but I figure if Jason Garrett can wait nearly five months to come clean, a span of several days doesn’t seem too long.
If perception doesn’t matter to him, why didn’t Garrett just share the NFL’s worst-kept secret much earlier in the offseason?
It took Jerry Jones spilling enough beans for reporters to feed to Bill Callahan – and then a week of Garrett looking desperately defiant by refusing to address the issue in a head-on manner – before the man with the title of Dallas Cowboys head coach admitted that he’d no longer be calling the offensive plays. It was probably the biggest PR gaffe in Garrett’s career, although refusing to own up to the Arizona clock-management crisis is pretty tough to beat.
It sure looked from my view on vacation like a cut-off-at-the-knees coach attempting to cling to whatever shred of authority that he could grab.
Oh, wait, we’re supposed to believe that the ham-fisted, tight-lipped way that Garrett handled the transfer of play-calling responsibilities was about a competitive edge, right? That’s the truth about why Garrett lied as late as a few weeks ago, when he insisted that no decision has been made despite Callahan calling plays throughout the OTA practices.
Riiiiight. Gee whiz, Garrett sure kept those Giants off guard. Tom Coughlin and Co. would have really been in trouble if they only had a month to prepare for Callahan as a play caller, but Jerry had to go and screw that up, huh?
Can anyone explain the competitive advantage that Garrett was maintaining by consistently downplaying Tony Romo’s increased role in the game-planning until last week? How did the Cowboys benefit by Garrett insisting that the “Peyton Manning-type” influence Jerry was so giddy about for Romo was really just the same as every quarterback situation he’d been around? (Just like Joey Harrington when Garrett was the Dolphins’ QBs coach!!!)
There’s a pretty simple trend: Garrett’s dishonesty increases as his authority decreases.
The truth is all these changes could save Garrett’s job. A strong argument can be made that every staff adjustment the Cowboys made this season, including giving Romo an unofficial assistant offensive coordinator title, improve their chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2009. But the fact that Garrett felt the need to fib speaks to the heat of his seat and discomfort of the puppet strings that Jerry has attempted to attach this offseason.
To be clear, the media has no right to be mad about the white lies of a prominent sports figure. It’s part of the deal that head coaches, owners, players, etc. pick and choose when the truth serves their purposes. As Jerry often says, usually with a wink, “Just because I say it doesn’t make it so.”
It’s our job to put their words to the smell test, and the fact that Garrett’s spin has reeked worse than the skunks that roam Valley Ranch made maintaining the spin for months so silly.
This could have been handled at the Senior Bowl, when Jerry first strongly hinted that Garrett would be shifting into the walk-around head coach role that the owner had long despised but Jimmy Johnson had always advised for Garrett. The story would have been drowned out by Super Bowl hype and old news by the time OTAs rolled around.
Perhaps Garrett really hoped he could win that power struggle and continue to call plays, as he indicated was the plan the day after the Cowboys’ second straight 8-8 season ended. But he knew the score when he addressed the media in mid-February after the coaching staff had been reconstructed.
Garrett executed his game plan that night: Stressing the tight ties with the Jerry-hired former Tampa Bay assistants, supposedly established during a 5-11 season when he was on and off the Buccaneers’ roster, and dancing around the play-calling issue. It was a lot like most of Garrett’s 2012 game plans, putting him in a hole he had to dig out of.
So the dance continued and the drama was dragged out, with Garrett determined to publicly acknowledge the obvious on his own terms and repeatedly refusing opportunities to get it over with.
In some ways, you can respect Garrett’s stubbornness. Too bad for him that Jerry obviously doesn’t. And that's no secret.