SAN ANTONIO – There might not have been much thought given to the seating arrangement for the press conference to open the Cowboys’ training camp.
The symbolism, however, was simply too rich to ignore: Jason Garrett is in the driver’s seat.
The front of the podium used for press conferences at Cowboys’ camps is a Ford truck grill, a reminder of Jerry Jones’ marketing madness. Whether it was intentional or not, Wade Phillips always sat shotgun when he shared the stage with his boss.
Not Garrett. He’s behind the wheel, which is fitting.
Good ol’ Wade lived and died by the whatever-Jerry-says philosophy during Phillips’ tenure in Dallas, which pretty much made it impossible for the head coach to be considered a real authority figure by players. That won’t be a problem for Garrett, whose fingerprints will be on every “organizational decision” – his politically correct term – the Cowboys make under his watch.
These camp kickoff press conferences have been the Jerry Show for the last four years. Phillips would make a statement once the owner came up for air, but other than that, reporters would basically only ask Wade an occasional question to make sure that he was still awake.
Jerry played second fiddle this year. In fact, after his 2,000-plus-word opening statement, the NFL’s most quotable owner set a personal record for longest silence within mouth’s reach of a microphone.
It was Garrett’s time to hold court with the assembled media. Question after question was addressed to him, not the owner.
That never happened under the previous coaching regime. That’s because the owner’s opinion was the only one that really mattered. That’s not the case now. There is no question that Garrett’s authority is legitimate.
Not that anything jaw-dropping came out of the coach’s mouth Wednesday. He simply made it clear the Cowboys better come prepared to work.
“We have to do everything better,” Garrett said. “We have to do everything better. We have to play better on offense. We have to play better on defense. We have to play better in the kicking game. We have to play better in situational football. We have to take care of the football better. We have to get the ball away from them better. We have to practice better. We have to finish games better.
“I can keep going.”
Nobody keeps going like Jerry, which is why his secondary role in the State of the Cowboys address was so noteworthy. The title to the truck is in Jerry’s name, but the owner is rightfully riding shotgun with Red.