Jason Garrett Imposes New Mentality on Team; Jones Compares Him to Landry
The Dallas Cowboys have faced adversity at every turn this season. From losing their starting quarterback, Tony Romo, in the preseason, to seeing key players like Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith injured, followed by two rookies being handed the keys to the kingdom. With all of this, it’s a wonder they ended the season 13-3 and were awarded the #1 seed in the NFC.
After spending 2015 constantly looking at 2014 and what could have been, this season head coach Jason Garrett has made it a priority for the team to look forward, not backward. From day one of training camp, owner and general manager Jerry Jones was clear that the Cowboys would face each week with a focus on that week, and that the team would work hard with what they had. No more looking forward, no more looking backward. No more what ifs, and no more what could have been or what once was.
Garrett seized the opportunity and has been preaching his personal life mantra to the team ever since. He’s all about working and living in the moment.
"The only way to be your best is to focus on the task at hand," Garrett said. "If you're thinking [about] what happened on the previous play or what may or may not happen on the next play or the last game or the next game, by definition you're not going to be your best at that particular moment.”
Garrett doesn’t just want his guys to play this way, and he doesn’t just coach out of this ideology. It’s how he lives his life.
"It's a daily endeavor for everybody in life to live that way. We try to instill that in our football team. We really emphasize that and some guys get to the point where they do that very naturally."
They’ve allowed this thought process of living in the moment, and playing a “one game season” seep all the way through into their playbook. It’s not about the last play, it’s about right now.
"Our game sets up that way," Garrett said. "It's play by play. You focus on this particular play and you let the last one go. You score a touchdown, you gave up a sack, you threw an interception, you threw a touchdown. Whatever those things are, you're done with that one. You learn from it and you move on.
Garrett doesn’t hesitate to emphasize that he realizes how complicated it can be to let go of the past. He believes if a player can realign their mentality and focus on the task in front of them, it will positively impact every facet of their game, and the quality of their life.
"It might be a simple philosophy, but it's a very difficult thing to do," Garrett stated about being in the now. "Oftentimes, most people have anxieties about the future or regrets about the past.
"They have things in their lives they're constantly focusing on instead of the things they love and the people they love to do them with, it's something we try to emphasize to our guys."
Jerry Jones is beyond proud of how Garrett has developed as a coach over the course of the past 10 years. Last season, with a record of just 4-12 Garrett was on the hot seat. After nearly a decade and playoff disappointments galore, Jones didn’t see that Garrett’s time had quite come to a close.
"I felt that Jason Garrett as a coach with four wins, was progressively getting better at winning a significant amount of ballgames," Jones said. "The last thing I wanted to do was invest the years that we have had in Jason and have that go someplace else and have another franchise take advantage of it.
"We all know how capable he is and how smart he is. We all know how driven he is and what football means to him and the quality of his character. I want to take advantage of how he's evolving. We've got the benefit of a guy in essence had his nose rubbed in it," Jones said. "He's had some tough days and had some successes.
Jones didn’t stop at singing the praises of Garrett’s work ethic and mentality. He went as far as to compare him to arguably the greatest coach in Cowboys’ history, Tom Landry.
"There's another great coach who coached here 29 years that evolved in becoming arguably the greatest coach ever. I'm not saying that [Garrett's] Tom Landry; I'm saying Coach Landry had to evolve."
It’s a bold statement to compare Garrett to Landry, given that Landry had two superbowls and Garrett has all of two wild card playoff wins (if you count his time as offensive coordinator in 2007).
Garrett has once again reached the divisional playoff round. His last (and only) chance came in 2014 and again, it’s against the Packers. The team had the same record in 2014 as well, but that year they played at Lambeau. The Packers will travel to face Garrett’s Cowboys, and if Jones is right, Garrett has developed enough as a coach to face yet another challenge. But Garrett won’t be thinking of 2014 though, he lives in the moment and so does America’s Team.