Who do you trust more?
Scrappy Romo has earned trust
Let's start at the beginning.
For me, Tony Romo's blue-collar path to his position with the Dallas Cowboys sets the tone for this debate. He had to fight, scrap and claw for his opportunity after being undrafted, underappreciated and overlooked. He earned his spot the hard way.
Jason Garrett -- the chosen one, aka the "Princeton Prince" -- was raised with a silver whistle in his diaper. Jerry Jones couldn't wait to make him the head puppet and watch him crush the Metroplex's dreams with a tortuous growing pain parade that allowed him to learn on the job with no signs of pressure or accountability.
Romo yanked his opportunity directly out of the mouth of a first-round QB culture that drives the league. He seized his gig. To me, that gives Romo extra credibility.
The way Garrett was gift-wrapped this job leaves him inexperienced and exposed. He was created in a football laboratory and thrown into the wild after setting the NFL's clipboard holding record. He's cold, robotic and calculated in an industry that is fueled by passion, testosterone and emotion.
That's why the in-game peek inside Jerry's suite at a crucial moment often shows one of Jones' pre-teen grandsons urgently signaling a timeout to invisible football gods based on his situational football experience in Madden on the PS3, while the sideline shot of Garrett reminds everyone of a deer paralyzed by the fear of oncoming headlights.
Romo has thrived both on third downs and in the fourth quarters during his career. Romo is battle tested and proven. Garrett is not.
The Cowboys' quarterback also has more skins on the wall and more overall experience in the hot seat. If you need a nice Power Point presentation, trust Garrett. If you need a QB to deliver on the football field, trust Romo.
Garrett appears to be in over his head when the game is on the line. Botched clock management, timeout failure and suspicious play calls have emptied my last few remaining drops of Garrett trust.
The massive interception total on Romo's ledger has more to do with dumb receivers, no offensive line and no running game. Garrett has no excuse. He simply doesn't have a feel for the game. Why? Because there is no known robot program for feel. Give me Romo.
Garrett learns from mistakes
Tony Romo is a good quarterback who is regressing.
Jason Garrett isn't regressing. The Dallas Cowboys' coach is learning and getting better.
Can you question his playcalling? You can do that with every NFL coach. But if you want to say Garrett doesn't learn from his mistakes, you're wrong. As the Cowboys' offensive coordinator in the 2010 season opener against the Washington Redskins, Garrett called for a pass play to Tashard Choice. The running back fumbled the ball at the end of the half, allowing the Redskins to build on a 3-0 lead and head into the half up 10-0. The Redskins would win, 13-7. Since that miscue, Garrett has instructed his offenses to take a knee near the end of first halves.
Fast forward to the final moments of the game against the Baltimore Ravens just a few weeks ago. Garrett had 32 seconds to run two, maybe three more plays. Instead, the Cowboys allowed the clock to tick and finally called a timeout with six seconds left to set up a long field goal, only to see Dan Bailey miss from 51 yards.
Last week in the loss to the New York Giants, Garrett fired off three plays in the last 10 seconds, which prompted Giants coach Tom Coughlin to complain about the Cowboys Stadium clock operators.
Garrett isn't perfect, but he understands he must do better -- and he is. He has changed the culture at Valley Ranch, where players are held accountable more than they were in the four seasons when Wade Phillips was the team's coach.
Garrett is drafting and signing a particular type of player, someone who is all about football and is respected by his teammates in the locker room. Garrett has gotten his team to buy into what's needed right now. There were no such messages sent when Phillips was the coach.
Nothing against Phillips, but Garrett challenges players to be better. He benches players (Dez Bryant was removed from punt return duty Sunday), puts players on notice (Derrick Dockery got first-team practice snaps at guard as starter Mackenzy Bernadeau watched) and churns the bottom of the roster. He doesn't want the 52nd and 53rd men on the roster to think they're jobs are secure.
Garrett is building a program and not just trying to guide the Cowboys to victories. He knows the history of the Cowboys and what it takes to win titles. Why do you think he frequently speaks with Jimmy Johnson and Nick Saban, coaches who have won championships?
Garrett isn't perfect, but he's the right man to push the Cowboys to what they once were: an elite franchise.
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