Pressure is Garrett
Peter King – SI.com
Thursday, 3:24 p.m., Garrett, usually amiable and chatty, calling from Texas.
“I’ve got five minutes,” he said.
“This is not the way you wanted this to happen, I wouldn’t think,” I said.
“Nope,” he said. “But we’re moving forward. I’m not concerned what happened the first eight weeks of the year. I’m only concerned with what we do now. Today. This week.”
I’m inclined to think, “Poor Garrett.” This is a guy who turned down shots to coach the rock-solid Ravens and building Falcons 34 months ago to stay in Dallas as Jerry Jones’ very well-paid offensive coordinator — the highest-paid coordinator ($3.3-million per year) in NFL history — because he thought he’d rather be the head coach of America’s Team one day, which this contract seemed to assure he’d be. No one ever said it’d be as an interim coach for a sinking ship whose franchise quarterback is probably out for the year, in the wake of the Cowboys firing the don’t-worry-be-happy Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start. But I can’t feel sorry for a guy making sick money to coach a sport.
Garrett’s come in like a lion his first two days with the players. This is not interim-coach attitude he’s got. Players were notified Tuesday to be at the facility at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, 45 minutes earlier than normal. The customary 8:15 a.m. team meeting had a Coughlinesque feel, because Garrett closed the doors to the room at 8:13, according to David Leon Moore of the Dallas Morning News. The players wore full pads to practice for the first time this fall, and Garrett yelled at the walkers to jog from drill to drill. Cards and dominoes, standard in the locker room, were verboten at lunch time.
There was no, “Yeah, I got dealt a bum hand,” from Garrett. His voice was hopeful, stern and practiced, the way he’d been taught by his father (the former Columbia coach and longtime Dallas scout, Jim Garrett) and coaches he’s played and worked under, like Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban and Sean Payton.
“We will be challenging them,” Garrett said. “It started with explaining the expectations we have for them in our meeting with them [Wednesday], and then going over how we’re going to work, and how we expect them to play. When they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, there will be consequences.”
There it is … consequences. Finally. Where were the consequences when cornerback Mike Jenkins clearly gave up on a tackle against Green Bay, essentially chickening out? A disgrace. But no fine or benching. Whether Garrett can make those consequences stick — for instance, whether he’ll be able to bench those who dog it — will be what everyone will be watching when the Cowboys play the two-touchdown-favorite Giants Sunday.
Garrett got no assurances about his future. “Which is the way it should be,” he said without rancor. Maybe his 50-to-1 shot will come in, and the Cowboys will find a way to win five or six games, and Jerry Jones will say, “The hell with Jon Gruden. We’ve got our man right here.” But that’s Rocky and Apollo Creed stuff. This team is Jon Kitna and more than a few guys who mailed it in under Phillips. But I’ve known Princetonian Garrett since he was Red Ball — the nickname he had as Troy Aikman’s backup two decades ago — and I have to say that deep down, I’d love to see this fairy tale come true.