Garrett Finally Gets His Chance
Former backup quarterback takes over in Dallas.
By: Mitch Light | 11/12/10, 1:00 AM EST
By Charean Williams
Jason Garrett has never been a head coach, but he’s been in this position previously. Garrett made only nine starts in his 12 NFL seasons as a backup quarterback. But he always was ready when his number was called, going 6-3 as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys in place of Troy Aikman.
Garrett, 44, was promoted from assistant head coach/offensive coordinator to interim head coach Monday when the Cowboys fired Wade Phillips.
“When I was a player, I was No. 3 for a while, and I was No. 2 for a while,” Garrett said, “so there’s a little bit of an analogy there for me when you have to step in and assume someone’s role. I’ve leaned on those experiences.”
Garrett has been given the rest of the season to prove he’s worthy of the job. He is in the last year of his contract.
He once was the hottest assistant coach in the NFL. The Ravens offered him their head coaching job in 2008, but Garrett turned it down and informed the Falcons, too, that he was staying in Dallas after owner Jerry Jones gave Garrett a raise to more than $3 million per season. Garrett interviewed for the Rams job in 2009, but they hired Steve Spagnuolo instead.
Garrett’s star has been falling since.
Some defensive players in the league have called his play-calling predictable, though the Cowboys have averaged 268.8 yards and 24.9 points in his 3-plus seasons as their offensive coordinator. His offensive players have earned 20 Pro Bowl berths.
In his first week as the interim head coach, Garrett has put his stamp on the Cowboys. They have a new, earlier schedule, a new practice tempo and a new philosophy. They were in full pads for practice Wednesday, something they rarely did under Phillips. Their practices are faster and more intense, with players are required to run even when they are leaving the field. They no longer are allowed to sit on coolers on the sideline.
“Regardless of who is leading us, you have to come to work each day with that lunch-pail mentality every day,” Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking said. “I believe in Jason Garrett. Obviously, his experience as a player, a coach, the stuff he’s had in both of those areas, it’s very evident when he stands up in front of us and talks and delivers his message.
“There is zero gray area there. It is black and white, very direct and to the point, concise, no misunderstanding. I’ve been hit in the head a lot, but I could understand what he is saying when he stood up there and communicated to our football team. I believe in anybody like that.”
The question is whether all their changes will pay off in victories. The Cowboys are 1-7, their worst start since the 1989 season when they went 1-15.
Bradford has Rams rolling
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has lived up to being the No. 1 overall pick. He has been the league’s top rookie thus far, though Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams and Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also have had an immediate impact.
Bradford has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,674 yards and 11 touchdowns, with eight interceptions. He has a passer rating of 75.9. Bradford is on a 96-pass streak without an interception.
“Sam has done a nice job both as a leader and as a player,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “A couple of goals we talked about when he first got here was to be the best teammate he could and also try to be the best player he could be. He’s done that. It’s still a growth process. It’s not over. It’s still got a long way to go. There are things I’m sure he’s going to see as soon as this Sunday that he hasn’t seen before. There are experiences he’ll have to go through he hasn’t seen yet. It’s all a maturation process, but to this point he’s done a nice job.”
The most impressive thing Bradford has done is win. The Rams were 6-42 the three previous seasons combined. They are 4-4 this season.
“We had the expectations for this team set a lot higher than most people would have expected,” Bradford said. “So we’re still shooting for those. We realize we’re a long way from being the team we want to be. We realize that we have to make a lot of improvement, and we have to get better each week if we want to be the team we want to be. We’re still striving to get there and still working hard.”
Fourth and short
The NFL has fined Titans players $99,500 for illegal hits this season. Plus, the league docked defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil $40,000 for an obscene gesture toward an official.
• Redskins linebacker London Fletcher is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. He made his first Pro Bowl last season. Yet, in the past 11 seasons, Fletcher has 1,458 tackles, according to STATS, Inc. That’s 200 more than anyone else in the league.
• The Cardinals have tied an NFL record by returning four fumbles for touchdowns. The feat has been accomplished 13 other times, most recently by Kansas City in 1999. Arizona has eight touchdowns on returns this season. It has only 11 offensive touchdowns.
• Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 17-1 at home. His only loss was to the Broncos during his rookie season.
• Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had an October to forget with a concussion that sidelined him for one-and-a-half games. In the two-plus games he played, he threw five interceptions and one touchdown, and he was sacked 19 times.
• Broncos receiver Brandon Lloyd leads the NFL in yards after the catch with 697.
• Five of the Lions’ six losses have been by an average of 4.2 points. Four of the six were without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, who injured his shoulder yet again last week.
• Texans coach Gary Kubiak continues to defend rookie Kareem Jackson, a first-round pick from Alabama. Jackson has started from Day 1, replacing the departed Dunta Robinson. Jackson and Bernard Pollard are big reasons the Texans rank last in defense, last in pass defense and last in red zone defense, which likely is the reason they won’t make the playoffs. Jackson has allowed the second-most yards in the NFL (580), according to STATS, Inc., while Pollard is tied with DeAngelo Hall for the league lead in the most touchdowns allowed (7).
• Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller has been unable to use his speed to get to the edge, something that came easily for him at Clemson. He has 39 carries for 150 yards and no touchdowns, with 18 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He has lost a fumble. Coach Chan Gailey said Spiller is a work in progress.
• Carolina rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is 0-3 as a starter and has been benched three times this season. He has thrown one touchdown and four interceptions, been sacked 11 times and fumbled seven times, losing it twice. He has a passer rating of 48.0.
• The Seahawks have allowed 33 pass plays of at least 20 yards, which is third worst in the league.
• Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews is the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the league with 10.5 sacks, the first Green Bay player with double-digit sacks in each of his first two seasons as a pro.
• Colts receiver Pierre Garcon has battled inconsistency and injuries in his second season. He is fourth on the team in catches with 23 for 307 yards and one touchdown.
• Of the four teams Jacksonville has beaten, only Indianapolis has a winning record. The other three teams the Jaguars have defeated — Buffalo, Dallas and Denver — have combined for three wins.
• Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 12 touchdown passes in his past four games, the most prolific four-game streak in his career.
• Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is returning to form now that his left hamstring is fully healed. He held Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson to one reception for 13 yards last week. For the season, Revis has been targeted 31 times and allowed 11 catches, 207 yards and three touchdowns, according to STATS, Inc.
• Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is starting to show some wear and tear from the pounding he’s taken this season. He left Sunday’s game against Oakland several times for “physical” reasons, according to coach Todd Haley. In the past four games, Charles has 63 carries for 394 yards, or 6.3 yards per carry. In the first four games, he had 50 rushes for 325 yards, 6.5 yards per carry.
• Saints running back Reggie Bush returned to practice on a limited basis last week. He has missed seven games with a fractured right fibula, but he should return after the bye. In the two games he played, Bush had seven carries for 18 yards and nine catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.
• The Raiders have 36 penalties for 339 yards over the past three games, more penalties than two teams have for the entire season. Their season totals of 91 penalties for 794 yards lead the league.
• Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson has benefited from Michael Vick’s ability to extend plays with his feet. In 15 quarters with Vick as his quarterback, Jackson has 21 catches and three touchdowns, averaging 20.6 yards per catch. In the 13 quarters Jackson has had with Kevin Kolb, he has five catches for 71 yards, one touchdown and a concussion.
• Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El, a college quarterback at Indiana, has completed 21-of-26 passes for 320 yards and five touchdowns in his career throwing the ball in the NFL.
• Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is garnering MVP consideration. Rivers, 28, is on pace to shatter Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record of 5,084 set in 1984. Rivers has thrown for 2,944 yards with 19 touchdowns.
• Bucs rookie Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick, has yet to record his first sack. The team is on pace to finish with one of the lowest sack totals in NFL history. The Bucs have failed to take down the quarterback in five of eight games and have only six sacks for the season. The 2008 Chiefs hold the NFL record for fewest sacks in a season with 10.
Most Popular Articles
Contests & Promotions
Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing!
Enter the Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing game. Just head over to athlon.myfantasyracing.com and register for your chance to win a chance to watch a 2014 race from the grandstands. You'll also have a chance to win other amazing prizes such as an autographed Kyle Busch helmet.