October 31, 2010: (L-R) Quarterback Jon Kitna and assistant head coahc/offensive coordinator Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys look on from the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
It’s only been one game. And albeit an impressive game by Dallas, a promising game by Dallas, we would all be well served to not get carried away with our expectations of Jason Garrett, the “Redheaded Jesus” as he has been called on occasion. But we can’t help but notice the stark change in the culture around Valley Ranch, and that, more than the win, or anything else, tempts one to do exactly that--get carried away.
In that vein, there’s comparison to be drawn between the culture change at Valley Ranch and the culture change of the Texas Rangers, their pitching staff in particular.
In 2009, the Texas Rangers brought in Mike Maddux as pitching coach; the previous year, they brought in Nolan Ryan as president. Once together, the pair quickly instilled a strenuous workout program for the pitchers, an “old school” sort of approach to the game for the staff, by which one throws, not less, for fear of hurting the arm, but more, in hopes of strengthening it.
Excuses, it was made clear, would no longer fly--the brutal August heat in North Texas no longer mattered, nor did the team’s history of big bats and dead arms. What happened next, we all saw last month. The Rangers surpassed expectations in 2009; in 2010, they did what was previously unthinkable, going to the World Series for the first time in franchise history on the back of an impressive--and healthy--pitching staff.
We won’t be so presumptuous as to say that that’s what’s happening at Valley Ranch; but there is a certain similarity in the way Maddux and Ryan approached their roles with the Rangers, and how Garrett has approached his new role with the Cowboys. Where Ryan and Maddux oblige their pitchers to spend their winter throwing and running, Garrett obliges his players to practice in full pads--and, what’s more, doesn’t care that they don’t like it. And, we think, that’s a good thing.
“I just think football is a physical sport,” Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. “You can never lose that. You have to be smart going forward over the course of a season, but Wednesday is the day when you’re putting the base stuff in. A lot of it is focused on the running game and the play-action passing game, and you need to be physical in those areas.
“Over the course of time, if you’re not practicing that way, I think maybe you lose some of that physicalness. Now there are a lot of other coaching philosophies that have been incredibly successful doing it a different way. This is just something that we believe in.”
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