The Jason Garrett era has yet to even begin, really.
Sure, Garrett was the Cowboys’ interim head coach for the last eight games of the 2010 season, but it wasn’t his team. It was Wade Phillips’ guys, Wade Phillips’ staff, and Wade Phillips’ 1-7 record that Garrett inherited. When the interim tag was taken off of his title this season, it was clear that the hints of a culture change seen in the last half of 2010 would have a chance to develop. Garrett would have a legitimate chance, with his players, his staff, and without the burden of a 1-7 start, to leave his mark on the Cowboys.
Without even a regular season game under Garrett’s belt, we’re beginning to see the changes, particularly in the team’s philosophy with respect to personnel.
Offensive line coach Hudson Houck, for example, has a reputation for preferring veterans over young guys--and yet, the Cowboys will open the season in New York with two rookies (Tyron Smith and Bill Nagy) and a rookie for all intents and purposes (second-year center Phil Costa) starting along the line. Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo, of course, are gone.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has a reputation, well earned in his time in Dallas, for looking for quick fixes through veteran free agents--and yet, the biggest free agent acquisition the Cowboys made was probably that of Abram Elam, a safety whose name won’t ring a lot of bells around Dallas, but who knows Rob Ryan’s system well.
Which is to say, this is a very different Cowboys team from what we’ve seen over the past decade. And though there are other factors in the shift--the salary cap, being outbid by the Eagles for Asomugha, etc--Garrett’s presence is certainy no small part of what appears, at this point anyway, to be a very real culture change around Valley Ranch.
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