Dallas Cowboys: Identity Crisis

By Kim Dunning

When the Dallas Cowboys named Jason Garrett interim head coach in 2010, after moving on from Wade Phillips, Garrett instilled hope in Cowboys fans by completing the season on a high note with a 5-3 record.

Despite going  6-10 on the season, the Cowboys decided it was best to retain Garrett, due to the fact, that by the time Garrett had taken over the reigns as head coach, the damage to the teams morale and attitude had already been done.

Jason Garrett’s first full-time head coaching season was 2011. During the offseason, Garrett held a press conference and announced to the world and fans alike, that he was changing the identity of the Dallas Cowboys. 

He was determined to bring back the “class” that Tom Landry had given the Cowboys during his tenure as head coach.  They would end each game they won with the “Landry Formation” to kneel on the ball. Garrett believed it was time for fans to buy into the idea that the Dallas Cowboys were once again returning to the powerhouse team they used to be in the 1970’s and 1990’s. For the first time in a long time, Cowboys fans were delighted.

When the 2011 season began, everyone had hopes that Jason Garrett could bring this team back to playoff contention immediately.  However, the last game of the season, against the New York Giants, was a “win and you’re in” game for the Dallas Cowboys. With the winning team going to the playoffs.

The season ended with Dallas missing the playoffs again. However, this time, the fans were happy, as they considered 8-8 a vast improvement over the 6-10 record the year before. Garrett once again held his end of season press conference assuring fans that “it’s a process, we build upon what we have, and improve”.   Garrett also assured fans that the players would be upstanding players and that the Cowboys identity was still one of class and pride, something the fans could be proud of.

So we move into the 2012 season.  The second full season under Jason Garrett.  The Cowboys once again went 8-8 and missed the playoffs again by losing their final game to the Washington Redskins, in another win or go home game.  At this point, with their fate coming down to the last game of the season two consecutive years, and coming up short in both.

Cowboys fans began to question whether or not Garrett is a coach that can get his players over the playoff hump.  During the offseason Defensive Coordinator, Rob Ryan was the causality of the poor performance of the Dallas Cowboys and he was replaced, the defense was changed from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense, and Monte Kiffin, supposedly the guru of the 4-3 defense was hired as the new Defensive Coordinator.  

Garrett once again at his end of season press conference assured Dallas fans that “it’s a process, we are rebuilding”.  It was essentially the same speech he had given the past 3 seasons.  It was time for action rather than words, especially for restless diehard Cowboys fans.

The 2013 season was the season Dallas was going to come out firing on all cylinders.  This was the team that would be the beast of the NFC East.  The Monte Kiffin experiment was done and he was let go with class.  The Defensive Coordinator position was turned over to Rod Marinelli, who had a proven record with the Chicago Bears.  The fans were shouting from the social media walls, “2013 was our year!” Once again, that optimism changed to “groundhogs day” with the same ending.  Big win or go home game against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles resulting in another week 17 loss.  Garrett’s “it’s a process” was starting to lose flavor with Dallas fans.  The fans were no longer buying the words of optimism from Garrett.

Surprisingly, the fluke year of 2014 came upon the Dallas Cowboys.  After spending the last few first round draft picks on offensive linemen, the Cowboys were Division Champions, having locked up the East with a record of 12-4.  Jason Garrett finally had a winning record and a playoff win!  It all came to end on a correct call, no catch on a dropped ball by wide receiver Dez Bryant. Cowboys fans dreamt of what it could have been if Dallas would have went for the first down instead of the touchdown.

Horribly the 2015 season ended with the complete opposite record.  Dallas went 4-12, 3 of those wins came with Tony Romo as the quarterback.  One win goes to Matt Cassel in a luckout game against the Washington Redskins.  Garrett’s ending press conference was still the same, “it’s a process and we had some major injuries”.

Well, Garrett’s process has had one successful season.  His process has left a team that can’t win games against opponents that finish the season over .500. You know, the ones that are playoff teams?

Now coming into the 2016 season, this team as well as Jason Garrett’s identity, is having problems. Off- the-field behaviors are destroying this team.  What happened to those clean cut players who are full of pride wearing the star that so many legends came from?  What happened to the process?  It’s hard to have a process for a coach who is average at best.  This is a process that does not allow for depth at key positions, such as quarterback and defensive players.

This Dallas Cowboys Identity, just continues to give mixed signals.

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