Sunday, at 3:25 p.m., the Dallas Cowboys (3-2) embarked on a mission to refrain from becoming a .500 football team – a tagline that had followed this team for the first half of this decade.
An hour and a half later, they stared at a 21-6 deficit heading into halftime. However, both sides of the ball did show resiliency in the second half, which allowed the Cowboys to climb back within a single possession.
Despite being down two receivers and both offensive tackles, the offense began to erase their reprehensible first half. A field goal and a touchdown on two of their first three possessions moved the Cowboys within five points.
With less than three-and-a-half minutes left in the game, Jets kicker Sam Ficken extended their lead to 24-16. Deflated and lethargic, the Cowboys defense drifted to the sidelines past head coach Jason Garrett, who attempted to greet his players with handshakes.
Many players chose to ignore their ninth-year head coach, partially disgusted at the fact they were in danger of losing to an 0-4 football team.
The offense drove the field and scored, but was unable to tie the ball game on a two-point attempt. As the realization of a three-game losing streak set in, the boycott for Garrett’s job began. The digital riot was further ignited by a viral clip of those few players ignoring Garrett’s “attempt” at team motivation.
Thus, the timer on Garrett’s tenure as head coach finally looked as if it was running out.
Despite the obvious optics of how that clip looked, the reason it spoke such volumes is because of the type of coach Garrett has been known to be in this organization.
He may not have the schematic gifts of Sean McVay, but what could not be taken away from him was his ability to get his players to “buy-in.” No matter the opponent, or adversity they faced, there was no quit in a Garrett-led team.
The commonly-known phrase “trap game” did not apply to his teams because behind his robotic tendencies was a coach who got his team ready to play.
Through six games, we’ve watched the Cowboys get off to slow starts every week. Those sluggish beginnings to the game were overcome when the talent was far inferior to the Cowboys. In games four and five, when the talent level was raised, the team struggled to pull itself back up.
On Sunday, we saw a team who once again struggled to establish momentum early as they dug another first-half hole. Finally, they were handed a loss against a team they were overwhelmingly expected to handle on the road.
And, from the outside, it appeared Garrett’s handle of his locker room began to slip on national television.
Throughout Garrett’s career with the Cowboys, you could expect the wins were credited to the players and the losses meant Dallas needed a new coach.
But Sunday, in one of the rare times, the outcries for his job was warranted. His strengths as a coach, the ability to motivate and come prepared, have consistently failed Dallas through six games. Even in their 3-0 start, the team needed a quarter or more to get going. And each week it got progressively worse.
Jason Garrett has two games left before the bye to reroute this ship. It’s appropriate those two games involve the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.
But with both sides of the ball playing below expectations, the question will remain who’s next?
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