Jason Garrett is winning the perception battle — so far

http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/11/21/2647600/jason-garrett-is-winning-the-…

gallowayA week ago, I was right.

A week later, I’m wrong.

A personal seven-day flip-flop on the head-coaching “career” of Jason Garrett is extreme flip-flopping even by my normal standards.

But all opinions from here should always be considered “fluid.”

A week ago?

Garrett had a coach’s dream heading into his debut against the Giants in the Meadowlands.

Zero expectations.

His team was a zero, which if you had polled the CowSheep Nation would have matched Garrett’s grade after 3 1/2 seasons as a cussed offensive coordinator.

But all incoming head coaches love the “zero expectations” challenge, particularly in this case, where a team with talent had made a collective decision to vastly underachieve. Or not even show up on most Sundays.

The Dallas Cowboys had reeked of gutless behavior, the record was 1-7, the team had quit on poor Wade, the starting quarterback was on the shelf for at least another month, and the second half of the schedule was much tougher than the first, starting with what figured to be a road bashing in the Meadowlands.

Then the Cowboys won. Won easily. It was the Giants who played stupid. Played like Wade’s Cowboys. The Cowboys played like, what, “Garrett’s Cowboys?”

A week later, however, there’s this:

The Detroit Lions are in Arlington today.

Garrett has spent the past two weeks winning over some of the doubters, maybe even a majority of the doubters, except for running back Marion Barber.

Barber made the decision to openly defy the new dress code rule on the New York trip, which was a case of a fool making a foolish choice.

Otherwise, Garrett has “won” every daily media conference with a straightforward, no-nonsense approach.

He has “won” the practice field by changing everything easygoing Wade believed in, but at the same time has been gracious and classy any time the “Wade question” has been asked.

And Garrett won the game in New York, which gave him the bottom-line boost with the doubters.

We don’t know yet if Jason is a real head coach, but he could play one in the movies.

What if, however, the Cowboys lose to the Lions today?

Then it’s back to the bottom in perception for Garrett.

“Zero expectations” will not apply today. For Jason, and for perception, it’s a must-win, cannot-lose game.

Say this for the 2-7 Lions, as opposed to the 2-7 Cowboys: Not once this season has anyone accused Detroit of dogging it.

It’s a club that comes to play every week. The Lions are 9-0 in effort. The Cowboys are about the same 2-7 in effort.

After the Lions, the next three games for the Cowboys are the quick Thursday turnaround with the Saints in town, then a trip to Indy, then the Vick Eagles in Arlington.

That’s a reality-check stretch of schedule.

The irony for Garrett, as the new head coach, is that Detroit represents much more in the way of pressure, and much more in the way of building acceptance as the guy who can move the franchise forward, not only for the reminder of this season, but in the future.

Beating the Saints, the Colts or the Eagles would be gravy for Jason. Losing to the Lions, who haven’t won in 25 consecutive road games, would be a plate full of gravel.

Garrett has had a remarkable two weeks as the new head coach, and if remarkable seems overdoing it in praise, then that’s because of expectations coming in.

It was fair, wasn’t it, to question if Garrett, the offensive coordinator, had demonstrated anything close to Garrett being able to transform into a head coach? Particularly a head coach who had to toughen up and totally change the mentality of this particular group of players.

Jason has done that, at least in the very early returns.

Local FOGs (Friends of Garrett) who formerly played with Jason had repeatedly stressed over the past four years not to judge his offensive coordinator personality with what would happen if/when he became the head coach.

Now we see why the FOGs were so adamant in their belief.

The rather docile and always guarded Garrett has transformed into a guy who has taken total charge of a football team.

But today? Just don’t lose to the Lions. A step back in perception and early progress is not needed at this point.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/11/21/2647600/jason-garrett-is-winning-the-perception.html#ixzz15uEFjQyS

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