'Grab-Bag Garrett': Who Are These Cowboys Who 'Play The Right Way' Toward Lineup Changes?
FRISCO - Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is floundering in many ways, the latest evidence of this being RedBall's odd and empty pledge to examine lineup changes in search of "guys ... who play the right way.''
The 6-7 Cowboys' first-place perch in the NFC East is belied by the fact that Garrett and his supposedly "championship-contending roster'' has lost seven of its last 10 games. As a Friday media-session response (via conference call) in the wake of yet another loss, this one at Chicago, the coach said he is not planning to make any changes to his under-performing staff.
But he is going to oversee one major alteration, by God.
“The guys who earn the playing time by playing the right way,'' Garrett insisted, "are going to play more.''
Why does this sound to me like more of a platitude statement than a power surge? Let's examine the meat of Garrett's promise and why I believe he's simply "grab-bagging'' for answers:
ITEM: First, it (surely unintentionally) creates the impression that the Cowboys just spent 13 weeks doing something other than "playing guys who play the right way.'' Who are these malingerers? Who are these "Do-Things-Wrongers''?
And if they truly exist, why the hell has Garrett been playing them?
ITEM: I will gently suggest that newcomer vet Michael Bennett, age 34, is one guy who may practice "at his own speed,'' if you get my drift. Is Jason going to bench Bennett?
It says here he will not, both because Garrett needs Bennett's talent to help him win games and because the Jones family will not endorse the idea.
ITEM: It also says here the Cowboys don't really have "malingerers.'' The people on this roster are trying - or at least they think they are. The sloppy practices that I've reported on don't come on purpose. Nor do the in-game mistakes. They are part of a gradual decline in commitment, a decline of the sort that is commonplace when a desired goal is clearly not going to be reached.
ITEM: Dallas should play Blake Jarwin more. Because Jason Witten isn't "playing the right way''? Of course not. Jarwin should play more snaps because he increases the chance of the sluggish Cowboys offense adding playmaking explosiveness.
But if this is just about "playing the right way''? Well then, Witten should play ever snap. This week. And forever.
But this isn't about that.
ITEM: Same with increased opportunities for receiver Devin Smith and linebacker Luke Gifford. I'll argue they should start playing more when the Cowboys are eliminated (in a game or in the playoff race). But before that? Playing Devin Smith over Amari Cooper (maybe just in road games!) is a ridiculous idea. Playing Luke Gifford over Sean Lee is a ridiculous idea.
Unless one thinks Amari and Sean don't "play the right way.''
No, in truth, Garrett's pledge is empty nonsense. Jarwin-over-Witten isn't a "Right Kind of Guy'' thing; it's a clearly difficult transition decision for a Garrett-led coaching staff that loves the character and reliability of Witten. Football being a game of attrition, rookie Trysten Hill is playing because he must, not because he's qualified. Maybe it's time for rookie Donovan Wilson to get some safety snaps, but if the guy ahead of him, Darian Thompson (in for the injured Jeff Heath) "plays the wrong way,'' why is he even here? Maybe it's time for Devin and Gifford and Joe Jackson ...
Garrett said,“Obviously you can’t swap everybody out. That’s not what we’re talking about, but we have to look for opportunities to play the guys who play the right way and have done that consistently when they’ve gotten opportunities.”
Sounds bold! But heck, this organization took three weeks to even bring itself to separate from Brett "The Pillow'' Maher. ... Which causes me to 1) believe that Garrett is simply "grab-bagging'' for ideas here, 2) doubt if his Dallas Cowboys still even know what a "Right Kind of Guy'' is, and 3) wonder if "RKG'' was always a myth.