Jason Garrett proactively addressed his time with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday during his first news conference since his contract expired and he was hired as the New York Giants offensive coordinator.
Garrett harped on the overall experience with the Cowboys, but threw in a comment about the program he helped build during his nine full seasons as head coach. He was previously the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.
"This is the first time I've officially spoken to the media since coming to the Giants from the Cowboys," Garrett said on a video call. "I just want to acknowledge my time in Dallas and how grateful I am for the whole experience and everyone in the Cowboys organization for the opportunity and the support and the lifelong friendships that I've made. The players, the coaches and the staff members that were with me and made my life way better, I am eternally grateful to them. And really appreciative to have them in my life and for that experience.
"Awfully proud of the program we built and the teams we had. We had a lot of great days there. So, again, I'm very grateful for that experience and the people that made that experience what it was.
"Having said that, this is a new day and I'm awfully excited about being a part of the New York Football Giants and being back in this part of the country with this amazing organization where I've had so many great times in the past. So with all due respect, I'd love to have the questions that we talk about today be focused on what's happening here with the Giants than Dallas."
The Cowboys had a losing record just once in Garrett's nine seasons as coach. They won three division titles. But they also won just two playoff games and never made it past the divisional round during his tenure.
Garrett was allowed to walk after his contract expired earlier this year. He quickly latched on with the Giants. The thought of sitting out a season and waiting for an opportunity as a head coach next year didn't appear to be a serious option.
"I love coaching football. I am just so fortunate to have played football in the National Football League for 15 years and now I've been coaching since then. I love the game and I love every part about the game as a player and a coach," Garrett said. "When I had the opportunity to come work with coach Judge and the Giant organization it was something I felt, and my wife felt, was too good an opportunity to pass up. So really excited to be here, I'm learning, trying to grow as a coach and contribute to this football team in any way that I can."
Garrett's departure from Dallas, at least from the outside, appeared awkward. The Cowboys were interviewing candidates while he was still under contract.
Dallas eventually hired Mike McCarthy as his successor. Garrett landed with the Giants 11 days later.
"No disrespect but don't want to talk about the past that way. Any question you guys have about what we're doing here with the Giants now I'm excited to answer," Garrett said when asked about how it all went down. "Like I said in the earlier answer, had four years of a great experience with the Giants as a player from 2000-03. Great admiration for this organization for a long, long time and certainly a great admiration for coach [Joe] Judge from afar. So, again, really excited to be here."
It has been a while since Garrett was a coordinator. He ceded playcalling duties during the 2013 season. He hasn't been a full-time offensive coordinator since 2009.
Still, Garrett was heavily involved with the Cowboys offense, which finished first in the NFL last season in efficiency. He intends to bring a system that admittedly has evolved over the years since he was the coordinator.
Garrett also provides Judge with a solid sounding board given his experience as a head coach at this level.
"Again, just excited about the opportunity that I have and the role I have here with the Giants," Garrett said. "I've learned so much from Joe and others in this organization right from the start. That's the mindset/mentality that I have and certainly will try to contribute in any way that I can. ... That's my mentality. I have my notebook open every day. I'm taking notes in all those staff meetings and continuing to learn from Joe on a daily basis. Excited to be here. Excited to work for him."