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Wednesday, February 2, 2011
What Jason Garrett can learn from Tomlin

By Calvin Watkins

When Jason Garrett became the interim coach with the Cowboys this season he needed to change the culture. He made players wear full pads on Wednesdays, shoulder pads on Thursday and shells on Friday.

He instituted a dress code, placed digital clocks around the locker room to make sure players arrived to meetings on time.

And once Garrett was hired as the head coach on full-time basis, he said he wants training camp to be physical and is increasing the accountabilty around Valley Ranch.

It remains to be seen if any of the veteran players on the Cowboys will embrace Garrett, once the 2011 season begins with its minicamps and organized team activities.

The thought of how Garrett will conduct himself in his first season on the job in 2011 brought to mind how Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin conducted business his first year.

"When he first got there, he was very militant," wide receiver Hines Ward said of Tomlin, who is going to coach in his second Super Bowl on Sunday vs. the Green Bay Packers. "I remember making guys wear certain things. There were some veteran guys that challenged his authority, and they’re no longer here. At the same time, the guys that he kept, we bought into his belief and his system. They don’t give a coaching rule or a coaching book on how to be a head coach."

Garrett had plenty of success in 2010, going 5-3, with three road wins. But Garrett is also part of the staff that finished 6-10 for the 2010 season.

He will have four years to fix this mess.

One thing Garrett can learn from Tomlin is the ability to adjust. It seemed Garrett has done that somewhat as the 2010 season wore on he relaxed the requirment of players wearing full pads on Wednesday's as the season progressed.

How Garrett reacts to his veteran players, many who have strong voices, when things get tough will be interesting. Last season, the veteran players were seeking any help to change the season around. Many players brought into what Garrett was trying to do.

The same happened with Tomlin with the Steelers.

"The first year, I remember two-a-days, we were full pads the whole time in training camp, and by the time that we made it to the playoff game against Jacksonville, we were a beat-up team," Ward said. "Then he adjusted on the run. Once I think he saw the type of players he had on his team on a day-to-day basis and knows how we practice, how we get through the week of preparation, he started to cut back a little bit. He’s not going to drive everybody into the ground."