Former Dallas Cowboys safety Will Allen spoke out this week about what he described as a "micromanaged atmosphere" in the Dallas locker room.
Everything was heightened. Everything was very tight. I didn't feel the relationship and the bonding between players and coaches. Maybe just the players. Or maybe just a few coaches and a few players.
I think that's the rift that you get, and everybody wonders why Dallas can't finish, why Dallas isn't completing everything it needs to. The players are great. The players are tremendous. The coaches are some of the best in the business. You just need a cohesion there that allows players and coaches to really execute and do their jobs and it's not something hanging over their heads, that if they mess up you're going to get cut or you're not going to play or not going to do this. That's not fun for anybody.
Allen makes a very good point. But if, as he suggests, everybody is essentially playing or coaching scared because one bad play or move could cost them their jobs, how do you explain why head coach Jason Garrett continues to skate forward despite a severe lack of positive results?
The Cowboys are definitely micromanaged, but I actually think that locker-room tension is exacerbated by the fact that the man who is doing the micromanaging is excessively whimsical with regard to who's in his corner and who isn't.
That's the only way to wrap one's head around team owner Jerry Jones' Thursday proclamation that Garrett would return to coach the Cowboys in 2014.
When asked directly if Garrett would be the coach next year, Jones emphatically said, yes.
It's not that (an Armageddon year) for Jason, and I'm disappointed that we don't have a better record, Jones said. But he has got us in position to win the division and got a team here that I firmly believe has the ability to be one of the better-playing teams at the end and in position to get in the playoffs. We see logically how to get in the playoffs, we have that, for all practical purposes, in our control. Now that's a pretty good spot to be in after 10 games. And so a lot of this story is to be played out. It does not have a bearing on whether or not he will be our coach next year.
Nobody can tell Jones what to say or do. He paid for this team and it's under his control. Fine, but we can criticize the decisions he makes and the words that come out of his mouth.
Actually, for starters, the problem is that too many words are coming out. Jones is by far the league's most vocal owner, with multiple radio appearances every week throughout the season, and his WWE-style strategy for promoting this team results in a lot of flashy headlines and sensational quotes.
That, though, isn't healthy. We have proof of that, now, because it's been nearly two decades since America's richest and most popular football team has experienced even moderate success with Jones at the helm.
|Dallas Cowboys since 1997|
|Winning %||Points dif./game||TO margin|
|Under Garrett (2010-present)||.520 (26-24)||+0.9||+11|
|Pro Football Reference|
The man is just all over the map, which is dangerous because he's also the primary decision-maker at Valley Ranch. How come nobody except him seems to be enamored by Garrett, who has gone 26-24 as this team's head coach and is on track to miss the playoffs yet again in 2013?
Jones has a thing for Garrett, which I believe has little to do with his coaching prowess and a lot to do with his non-abrasive, conforming attitude. Garrett wouldn't be in high demand elsewhere, which might be why he resists ruffling feathers within a fractured organization, and that's exactly why Jones and his massive ego are cool with his presence.
Garrett isn't necessarily the wrong man for the job, but he certainly hasn't performed well enough to merit a guarantee like that with so much of the season remaining. I know injuries and defensive struggles have made life difficult, but it's tough to comprehend the Cowboys sticking with the status quo at head coach after three consecutive non-winning seasons.
Unless they finish 4-2, that'll be the case. Yet there's Jones, publicly delivering a verdict on Garrett before we've seen all of the evidence. That's feasible when you're the judge, jury and executioner, as Jones is, but it can only ultimately do more harm than good to the state of this franchise.