Dallas Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett kind of reminds me a little bit of Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Both are young first-time head coaches who have been entrusted with championship-caliber teams while still in their coaching infancy.
Spoelstra didn’t have all of the talent he now has at his disposal when he first took over as coach of the Heat but he did produce two winning seasons with what he had before LeBron James and Chris Bosh landed in his lap. With the addition of two All-Star talents like James and Bosh, Spoelstra has been able to lead Miami to two straight NBA Finals appearances.
While Garrett became head coach back in 2010, last season was his first full season as head coach of the Cowboys and he didn’t do that bad of a job. The problem is people expected him to do much better with all of the talent there is in Dallas.
The Cowboys were only one win away from making the playoffs last season. If not for some of Garrett’s questionable game management that cost Dallas a couple of wins, then it could have been the Cowboys making a deep playoff run instead of their division rivals the New York Giants.
It’s easy to second-guess what could have been in hindsight though. Still, if there wasn’t enough pressure to win in Big D last season expect Cowboys Stadium to become the league’s biggest pressure-cooker this year because the Cowboys are an extremely talented team.
And the Cowboys added even more talent during the offseason. The NFC East is probably the toughest division from top to bottom in the NFL talent-wise.
The NFC East is probably one of the toughest divisions to coach in boasting three head coaches that have coached in a Super Bowl.
Tom Coughlin just came off of his second Super Bowl win this past season, Washington Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan won two championships as head coach of the Denver Broncos and Andy Reid was able to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl back in 2004 but lost to the New England Patriots.
Those three guys have a wealth of coaching experience in comparison to Garrett, whose coaching resume consists of two seasons as the Miami Dolphins quarterback coach, four and a half seasons as the Cowboys offensive coordinator and one and a half seasons as Dallas’s head coach.
Garrett has only been in coaching for the past eight years. All three of the other coaches in his division have been head coaches in the NFL over 10 years apiece and have each coached in some capacity for over 20 years.
The saving grace for Garrett is that Shanahan hasn’t been in the division long and it shows. Garrett was able to beat Shanahan’s Redskins in both meetings last season but that will get much harder to do as Shanahan continues to build the Redskins to his liking.
Reid and Coughlin have both been in the division a long time and probably know the Cowboys’ roster and capabilities better than Garrett does having game-planned so much for them over the years. Garrett was 0-4 versus Reid and Coughlin last year and the Cowboys lost all four games by more than 10 points.
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has tried to give Garrett as much help as possible to he possibly can in the coaching department. Jones hired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan last season to help on the defensive side of the ball.
Ryan has been mentioned as a head-coaching candidate for various jobs and will probably be coaching his own team soon, especially if he can help Garrett lead the Cowboys deep into the playoffs.
Jones also added offensive line coach Bill Callahan to help Garrett with the offense this season. Callahan has head coaching experience and is expected to help Garrett with game-planning and some of his in-game decision-making.
But ultimately this is Garrett’s team and he will have the final say in any matter. He has the talent to succeed and possibly advance this team to a Super Bowl but he will have to step up to the curve as a coach if the Cowboys are going to reach their vast potential.
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Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.
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