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Friday, February 15, 2013
Pressure on Jason Garrett to make Cowboys better

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talked to reporters for nearly an hour Wednesday, discussing the new members of the coaching staff while praising those that have left.

Jason Garrett
Jason Garrett needs to show he's in control of the team.
Garrett gave the impression that he was in control of the staff and the team's direction. But the reality is that Garrett failed to address if he was going to be the playcaller in 2013. If he's going to do it again, no problem. If someone else, such as Bill Callahan, is going to take over, so be it.

But no matter what happens, it's on Garrett to make this team better.

He can talk all he wants about Monte Kiffin taking over the defense and how Callahan will have more of a hand in the overall structure of the offense, but Garrett simply can't have moments like he did during the Cowboys' loss to the Baltimore Ravens last season.

Garrett can't have his team continue to get behind early in games. He can't let struggling veteran players continue to get significant playing time with younger players waiting in the wings.

Garrett must take control of this football team.

You can debate whether or not he's lost the power struggle with Jerry Jones over moves within the coaching staff, including having to fire his brother, John. But Jason Garrett has to save face here.

When Garrett meets the troops in late July, he must have their respect. Garrett talks about getting better each and every day and, while it's a good premise, he must display in on a daily basis with his decision making.

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If a veteran player fails the training camp conditioning test -- as was the case with Felix Jones last year -- that player needs to go. If another player gets popped for anything -- DWIs, fighting, doesn't matter -- that player needs to go or at least get a team-issued suspension. Forget about letting the process play out.

Garrett has to challenge his players to do better. If he loses play-calling duties, fine. However, he has to let everyone know at Valley Ranch that he's the head coach and still running things.

Garrett's style has been even-tempered during consecutive 8-8 seasons for the Cowboys. His handling of the death of Jerry Brown was masterful. But his on-field handling of Kevin Ogletree, Felix Jones and Doug Free was a failure.

When Tony Romo was leading the NFL in turnovers in the middle of the season, Garrett said turnovers -- specifically interceptions -- was a team-thing. Really?

Garrett needed to hold his quarterback more accountable in public. He needed to push Romo to become better by challenging him. In the middle of a five-INT game against Chicago, Garrett should have benched Romo for Kyle Orton.

With his job on the line, and his power appearing to be diminished, Garrett has no choice but to become more aggressive. This is his time to make this Cowboys team better.

"I think the relationship I have with the coaches and players just speaks for itself," Garrett said. "The time I spend with our guys and how we run things and how things are directed on a daily basis, I think they understand the position that I’m in and I think they have respect for that. I certainly have respect for them and I’m excited about our football team."