It's looking more and more like Jason Garrett will continue to be the Cowboys head coach in 2011. Winning more than you lose has a way of ensuring you a bright employment future.
We've got no argument with keeping Garrett around for the long haul. The team's responded well since he took over and there doesn't seem to be much reason to do a gigantic overhaul in light of his record over the second half. That doesn't mean there aren't still some questions that need to be answered, however.
The biggest one is how to reconcile Garrett's run over the last six weeks with his role in the first eight. He was an integral part of the Cowboys brain trust, the de facto offensive head coach in fact, when they opened the season like the worst team in the league.
There are easy things to point to as reasons why he's been able to win some games. There's the fact that he's used his new control over the practice schedule to turn things up a notch on players used to Wade Phillips's softer style. He also benefitted from the addition/progression of young players who made their way into the lineup. Accepting all of that, there are still things about the change since Phillips's depature that don't add up.
We're not trying to play up conspiracy theories about Garrett sabotaging Phillips because, fun as they are to throw around, we simply don't believe them. What's more of a concern is the possibility that Garrett has made his bones thanks to a team that got a slap in the face and responded with a renewed effort. Such things happen a lot in sports, usually when a man loses his job as punishment for underachieving players losing games on the field.
If that's the case in Dallas this season, what will happen in 2011 with a roster that's grown accustomed to Garrett's face? Those who buy into the notion that overly complacent players helped grease the skids for Phillips have to be concerned that the same thing will happen to Garrett sometime soon.
As much credit as he's gotten for shaking things up, Garrett hasn't actually changed all that much. Players haven't been benched or seen their playing time cut dramatically since most of the lineup changes have been forced by injuries. In the case of Marion Barber, Garrett is pushing to get him back in action even though there's no reasonable explanation for inviting him back for the final two games.
Only once the shock of the switch in coaches has worn off will we know if Garrett has changed the culture as dramatically as his supporters have argued. That's not going to be until he's got the job for good, which means there's still more leap of faith to take in Dallas.
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