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Bernie's Five Pros/Cons to Hiring Jason Garrett
*5 Minutes for Blogging, Jan. 17
By Bernie Miklasz
01.16.2009 11:59 pm
I’m going to do this a little differently on this shift but I promise to keep it snappy…
* Rather than go the usual five-point rapid fire format, I’m going to give you two sets of five points.
In an effort to be balanced, I’ll offer five reasons why it’s a good idea to hire for the Rams to hire Dallas Cowboys coordinator Jason Garrett as their head coach … and then I’ll drop five on you, giving you the other side - why it would be a bad idea to hire Garrett.
So maybe this will be a 10-minute blog.
FIVE REASONS WHY IT MAKES SENSE TO HIRE GARRETT:
1. BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO TRUST RAMS GM BILLY DEVANEY: If Garrett is Devaney’s choice, then you should defer - grudgingly so, if necessary — and deposit some faith in the notion that Devaney knows what he’s doing … at least until it is becomes absolutely clear, down the road, that Devaney has no clue about what he’s doing. But doesn’t Billy D deserve the benefit of the doubt? Devaney was given the mission to pick the next coach. By indications that I have, owner Chip Rosenbloom is willing to go along with Devaney’s recommendation. This is why the Rams promoted Devaney. Weren’t we all whining for the Rams to put a “real football man” in charge? Well, if this is Devaney’s call, then this is the way the new system at Rams Park is supposed to work. If you supported Billy’s promotion to GM, you can’t turn on him this quickly just because he goes with a coach that wasn’t atop your wish list.
2. BECAUSE TERRELL OWENS DOESN’T LIKE GARRETT: This is possibly the finest endorsement that one can make for Garrett … if a chronic career malcontent and coach-hating narcissist like T.O. is against Garrett, then clearly Garrett has a lot going for him.
3. BECAUSE GARRETT COMES FROM AN ESTEEMED COACHING FAMILY: His father, Jim Garrett, was a longtime coach and NFL scout. I had a chance to visit with Jim Garrett many years ago when I covered the Cowboys and he was a sharp guy. An excellent football man. Jason’s brothers (John, Judd) played pro football and have been on NFL coaching staffs. When you grow up in an environment steeped in football knowledge, when football is the life work of the men in the family, the background provides first-rate preparation for a successful coaching career. And even Jason Garrett’s critics would concede that he’s a bright football man. Ivy League education, overcame odds to have a career as an NFL quarterback, won two Super Bowl rings as Troy Aikman’s backup QB.
4. BECAUSE GARRETT WAS A HOT COMMODITY A YEAR AGO: Last offseason, Garrett was offered the head-coaching position by two teams, Baltimore and Atlanta. He was easily the most coveted assistant in the NFL. Teams were lined up to get a chance to interview him. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones kept Garrett from leaving by making him the league’s highest-paid assistant at $3 million a year. What, did Garrett get really dumb all of a sudden? In January 2008 he was a widely acclaimed genius, and now we’re supposed to believe that in January 2009 he’s a lesser version of Scotty Linehan? If the Rams had hired Garrett a year ago, Rams fans would have performed cartwheels and organized a massive pro-Garrett parade in his honor. OK, so what changed? Did Garrett lose all of that football acumen over several months? Or did his stock dive because the 2008 Cowboys were rocked by injuries that caused their offense to malfunction? In Garrett’s two years as the Dallas OC, the Cowboys were 21-8 and averaged 26.7 points per game with Tony Romo as the starting QB. In 2008, when Romo played, the Cowboys averaged 24 points, or only two points fewer than they did in 2007. That’s hardly a collapse. When the injured Romo didn’t play in 2008, the Cowboys went 1-2 and averaged 13.6 points per game. (Including that embarrassing loss to the Rams). Garrett has a sound offensive philosophy, and it comes from the Norv Turner school of timing offense, which means a vertical passing game, with the QB looking deep before scanning the underneath routes. And it is supported by a power running game. Garrett knew how to effectively ultilize Marion Barber as a RB when Barber was healthy; no one accused the Cowboys of having a wimpy running game. Garrett could probably do a nice job getting the most from Steven Jackson in a power-rushing approach. In the Dallas system, he likes having a massive offensive line. The Rams need that. One more thought about last offseason: when a highly respected GM such as Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore) offers his coaching job to Garrett, that packs a lot of credibility.
5. BECAUSE WE SHOULD LISTEN TO COWBOYS GUARD MONTRAE HOLLAND: Remember all of the late-season controversy, when it seemed like everyone in Dallas short of the Ghost of Tom Landry was rushing forth to take shots at Garrett? It stemmed from an Owens-instigated feud; T.O. didn’t like being upstaged by Dallas TE Jason Witten and started accusing Romo of favoring Witten… and some of the shrapnel hit Garrett. Well, in an interview with the Denver Post, Holland suggested that Garrett deserved praise for his handling of the situation. “Jason let them be men and talk it out,” Holland said. “He went up to them and said, ‘What’s going on? What can we do to get past this so we can get back to football?’ He’s a communicator. He listens to the players when the players come off the field.”
FIVE REASONS WHY THE RAMS SHOULD PASS ON JASON GARRETT …
1. BECAUSE CRITICS SAY HE FAILED TO ADAPT: One theory in Dallas is that the Cowboys stagnated offensively due to Garrett’s unwillingness or inability to make adjustments. It has been said and written that NFL defenses caught on to the scheme used by the 2007 Cowboys, and Garrett didn’t budge from his usual approach. It was said that the Cowboys became predictable by running so many plays from shotgun formation. Stubborn coaches don’t always maintain the players’ confidence in them. And that leads to the coach losing the locker room. Marshall Faulk of the NFL Network offered this observation late in the season: “Did Jason Garrett take a step back? Or did the league catch on to what he was doing?”
2. BECAUSE FRIENDS AND FOES TOOK TURNS RIPPING THE DALLAS OFFENSE: After the Baltimore Ravens won at Dallas late in the season, Ravens MLB Ray Lewis ridiculed the Cowboys for having a simplistic offensive approach that was easy to stop. But that isn’t the worst of it; Garrett’s QB, Romo, said it took Dallas three quarters to figure out how to attack that Baltimore defense. And after the Cowboys were buried in a season-ending loss at Philadelphia, Romo was at it again, saying that the Eagles “exposed” the predictable Dallas scheme. If Romo — hardly a troublemaker — has no hesitation to take such obvious public shots at Garrett, what does that say about Garrett’s ability to command respect? A really bad sign. Linehan stuff, frankly.
3. BECAUSE TONY SPORANO WENT TO MIAMI: When the Dallas offense was kicking in, full throttle, in 2007, the Cowboys received a major contribution from Sporano, the offensive line coach. He not only coached the O-line, which performed at a high level, but Sporano was also responsible for devising much of the running game. Sporano left to become the Dolphins’ head coach in 2008. Coincidence or not, the Cowboys regressed up front, and in the run game.
4. BECAUSE GARRETT’S LEADERSHIP CAME UNDER FIRE FROM THE DALLAS MEDIA AND FANS: Here is some of what my friend Jean-Jacques Taylor, columnist at the Dallas Morning News, wrote about Garrett late in the 2008 season… and the comments summed up the widespread criticism that hit Garrett in the DFW area:
“We can talk about Romo’s propensity for bad decisions, whether it’s throwing dumb interceptions or failing to protect the ball when he’s scrambling, but that’s on Garrett for not coaching Romo harder. Sometimes you need to jump in a player’s face – even if it’s out of character – and give him the Bill Parcells treatment. Do it too much and the players stop listening, as they did to Parcells. Do it every now and then and it makes an impact. Talk to enough players and they’ll tell you Garrett gives Romo a free pass in practice and meetings…not enough players believe in Garrett. He’s lost their trust. And their confidence.”
5. BECAUSE RAMS FANS WOULD LIKELY PROTEST THE HIRING: The goal is to win the fans back, right? If you peeked at the recent unscientific online poll at STLtoday.com, you already know that Garrett received scant support (4 percent) among fans who were asked to choose the next HC. And the initial reaction to Garrett making the trip to St. Louis for a Friday visit was swift and hostile and definitely anti-Garrett. Also, the perception is that Rams senior adviser John Shaw is somehow behind the move to hire Garrett. I don’t believe that, because Devaney is clearly enthusiastic about Garrett and that goes all the way back to Devaney’s time in Atlanta, when he was part of the search posse that tried to hire Garrett. But perception is often the reality, and if Rams fans believe Shaw is still pulling the strings at Rams Park from Pico Boulevard in LA, Garrett will find a toxic initial atmosphere in STL. He’s hardly the people’s choice. The grace period will be a thin one.
But I could be wrong about that.
By the end of Friday evening, pro-Garrett forces had arrived at Bernie’s Press Box forum on STLtoday.com and the peeps were calming down and taking a more relaxed view of Garrett.
Well, that’s my two sets of five points…
I could add others; this was not intended to be a complete version of the pros and cons of hiring Garrett.
But that’s what I’d like to see from you…please add your own reasons why Garrett makes sense (or no sense) for the Rams. By all means post those comments and I look forward to reading them.
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