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Garrett, latest Rams head coach candidate, isn't ready for prime time
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Jan. 13 2009
When it was simply an airtight final four and not his slightly flawed Fave
Five, general manager Billy Devaney's shopping list for the next Rams head
coach seemed to have all the right names. When I saw the names Rex Ryan, Steve
Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier and Jim Haslett on Devaney's wish list, I got it. I
smiled a lot because most NFL wise guys I've talked to say that those are four
solid football men, four proven leaders of men.
It confirmed for me what I had already suspected about the new Rams general
manager: He knows what he's doing. If left to his own devices, he will make the
sort of smart choices that will quickly catapult the Rams back into the
conversation as one of the better-run organizations in the NFL.
And then over the last 48 hours, Jason Garrett's name popped up on Devaney's
shopping list, and suddenly the GM's collection of finalists looked like a
question on one of those ACT or SAT exams.
Q: Rex Ryan, Jim Haslett, Leslie Frazier, Steve Spagnuolo and Jason Garrett.
Which name does not belong on this list?
A: Jason Garrett.
The name of the Dallas Cowboys' embattled offensive coordinator sticks out like
an unruly comb-over on a bald man.
All along, the names that Devaney was calling on made perfect sense. They all
fit within his publicly stated description of "meat and potatoes" football guys
and strong leaders of men. They all fit within his preferred profile of men he
could plug into the job and expect immediate results.
And then Jason Garrett showed up.
And my first reaction was "Huhhhh???!!"
My second reaction was too young, too unproven, too completely and totally
against the grain of what Devaney said he was seeking. (My third reaction was,
"Oh brother, is John Shaw meddling again?" But that's another story for another
Josh McDaniels, I understood. If you're going to go young and offensive, then
the 32-year-old wunderkind who was quickly swooped up by the new Denver Broncos
as their new head coach had all the prerequisites as the perfect candidate.
McDaniels is a true rising star, an offensive coordinator who was able to
command the respect of such disparate personalities as Tom Brady and Randy
Moss, lead a star-studded offense to the Super Bowl, then turn around the next
season and make an ordinary Joe like Matt Cassell sparkle.
Then I look at Garrett, and this is what I see:
I see a so-called boy genius who went from the Cowboys' untouchable
head-coach-in-waiting to a flawed character whom Jerry Jones has readily
(eagerly?) allowed to freely seek other options.
So how do you go overnight from the NFL's highest-paid assistant coach — a mere
heartbeat away from coaching the world's most famous football team — to a guy
Jones is pretty much trying to palm off on any available suitor (sucker)?
Devaney has made it clear what he is looking for in a head coach, and on the
top of that list is leadership. Garrett might well one day become a great head
coach and a compelling leader, but he isn't one now. Not even close. I see a
young coach who has shown some very obvious and disturbing signs that he is
unable to handle the rough stuff that a leader must cope with inside a locker
Exhibit No. 1: The always combustible Terrell Owens, who can rearrange the
emotional furniture inside a locker room in a heartbeat, steamrolled Garrett
this year, and it helped wreck the Cowboys' season. Owens never respected
Garrett, and it showed, and Garrett never was able to get his T.O. problem
under control. And because of it, the Cowboys locker room became splintered and
But let's go beyond the leadership issue. This season, we saw the regression of
quarterback Tony Romo as a star on the rise to a struggling passer in search of
his mojo. We also saw an offensive coordinator whose bad judgment caused Dallas
to go into the '08 season with over-the-hill Brad Johnson as the backup
quarterback. We saw an offensive scheme that opponents regarded as one of the
most simplistic they'd seen since ... well ... Scott Linehan's easily dissected
offensive X's and O's.
Yet somehow none of this prevented Garrett from gaining high-profile interviews
with the Broncos and Lions, and now he's on his way to Los Angeles on Wednesday
to have a sit-down with the Rams' ownership. So here's what I keep thinking.
All of these interviews must be favors to someone (maybe an agent) as some
superficial effort to restore the faded aura around Garrett's name.
Well that's nice and all, but I have a better idea, Jason.
You want to restore some sparkle to your reputation? Try doing it the right
way. Try doing it by paying your dues and perfecting your craft, and quit
trying to ascend to the head coach's office by skipping many of the most
valuable steps along the way.
Re: Garrett, latest Rams head coach candidate, isn't ready for prime time
The fact that Garrett is even being brought in for an interview, a finalist no less makes me nervous.
GARRETT = NOT!
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