Some of you might recall that new Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett once wowed the Falcons and Ravens during the interview process. A high-ranking Ravens official mentioned to me in '07 that Garrett could run for president if he got sick of coaching someday.
But as Garrett was doing a rather nice job of fielding questions Thursday during his introductory news conference in Arlington, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once again took center stage. Garrett was asked how much say he'd have in personnel matters. And the long silence following that question resulted because Jones was reaching for the microphone.
I have no doubt that Garrett would've provided a deft answer, which shed absolutely no light on the matter. But Jones interrupted his new head coach and declared that Garrett would have final say on all coaching hires and have major influence on every personnel move.
"Jason will have the final say on any person that leaves the coaching staff or comes to the coaching staff," Jones said. "There won't be a player on this team that Jason does not want on the team."
Jones wouldn't admit that this was a break from the past, but I'm sure Wade Phillips would be happy to confirm that it was. You'll recall that Garrett had already been hired as offensive coordinator before Phillips was named head coach in '07. Phillips was in charge of all things defense, but he didn't have much of a say in who ended up on his staff. Jones has heard all the criticism about how he undermines head coaches, and what he said Thursday indicated a willingness to change.
But while Jones did step out of the spotlight to make room for Bill Parcells, I can't see him doing that for Garrett. I totally believe him when says he has a great deal of affection for Garrett, but that doesn't always translate to respect. From the start, Jones has never had much respect for the position of head coach. That's why he famously said at the end of the Jimmy Johnson era that 500 coaches could win a Super Bowl with the talent they had assembled with the Cowboys.
I do believe that Garrett has a good understanding of how to work with Jones. He'll be willing to disagree with the owner at times. But I'm not buying for a second the theory that Jones will defer to Garrett completely on major personnel decisions. Perhaps he'll stay out of the way in this year's training camp and allow Garrett to take his players through more physical sessions.
But for Jones to suggest that he's traded in some of his decision-making power simply doesn't pass the smell test.