Little was known about the outside linebacker, who joined the team’s practice squad after the season had started, but Garrett spoke passionately about Brown after the Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, on a Dan Bailey field goal.
He connected in a way that he has been reluctant to do since taking over as the Cowboys' head coach.
Monday’s circumstances were vastly different than what the Cowboys experienced a year ago. Life is much more important than any football game.
But there was little of that emotion from Garrett after the Cowboys’ 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears. You wanted to hear that emotion. You wanted to feel that emotion. You wanted some of that Jimmy Johnson that Garrett must have seen when he was a backup quarterback. You wanted some of that Nick Saban that Garrett must have seen when he was the Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach.
You wanted some of that Garrett you heard from TheMMQB website when he addressed the players to open training camp. And you wanted some of the Garrett you heard in one of the Cowboys’ darkest hours after the loss of Brown.
Instead you got the measured Garrett. You got the businesslike Garrett.
It’s not that anything he said was wrong. The defense was awful. The offense did not capitalize on its chances. The Cowboys need to bounce back when they play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys can still achieve what Garrett talked to them about in Oxnard, Calif., at the beginning of training camp. They have just lost their wiggle room. They would need the Philadelphia Eagles to lose one of their intervening two games if Dallas doesn’t beat the Packers to make the Week 17 season finale another de facto NFC East title game.
“Whatever emotion you’re talking about, we all have them,” Garrett said. “You’re disappointed in a lot of different things, but somehow, some way you’ve got to get your focus on what we need to do right now and learn from this game as coaches, as players and make the necessary adjustments to get ready for the next challenge. And that’s where our focus has to be.”
At halftime, the Bears retired Mike Ditka’s No. 89. You wanted some of that Ditka after the game. You wanted some combativeness. You wanted to see anger, not just disappointment. You wanted to hear anger, not just level-headedness.
There is a time for that. It’s when the players get back to work Wednesday. Or it’s when the coaches get back to work Tuesday.
On Monday you needed to see Garrett feel the same hurt you felt. It’s there. There’s no question it is there. He has shown it enough so you know it’s there. You didn’t need Princeton Garrett. You needed Jersey Shore Garrett.
“Certainly it was a disappointing loss for everybody and the loss stings,” Garrett said, “but the worst thing we can do is have a hangover after this loss. It’s a short week, so we have to somehow, someway when the wheels touch down tonight, we’ve got to get back to work and clean up what happened tonight and get ready for Green Bay. The players will be off [Tuesday], back in on Wednesday and we have to get back to work. You have to shake this one off. That’s the nature of this league, particularly on a short week and a big challenge for us in our plays with the Packers on Sunday.”
Garrett’s message was repeated by most everybody else in the locker room. Linebacker Bruce Carter tiptoed to the line of expressing true displeasure.
“It’s very frustrating. Kind of embarrassing at the same time,” Carter said, but then he went to Garrett-speak with, “but we’ve got to learn from it and keep pushing forward. We’ve got three games to go.”