Jason Garrett will build a winner

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The best coach in Dallas Cowboys' history didn't win a single game his first season. The second-best coach the franchise ever had left the field a winner once in his first season.

Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson each turned out just fine.

So will Jason Garrett.

It doesn't mean he'll ever win a pair of Super Bowls like Landry and Johnson did, but he'll turn the Cowboys into contenders each year.


God has yet to create a flawless football coach.

If you thought Garrett wasn't going to make any mistakes in his first season as a head coach, then you were living in a fantasy world.

Ultimately, his success won't be determined by a play call that worked or went awry. Or his red-zone philosophy.

It'll depend on whether Garrett stayed true to the process and told Jerry Jones to shut up or fire him every time the owner wants to deviate from the foundation the coach is building.

Right now, you have to be patient.

No one said building a winner would be easy, considering this franchise was a disaster when he took over 365 days ago for Wade Phillips. At the time, the players had quit on the coach no matter what Garrett, Jones or anyone says, and the franchise's future was as bleak as it had been in a decade.

But Garrett persuaded those players, many of whom are still on the roster, to believe in him and trust the process he's still implementing.

Vince Lombardi couldn't have changed the culture created in four seasons of easy-going Phillips in 12 months.

Now, Garrett can occasionally be condescending, and he usually speaks in a flat monotone devoid of emotion when he addresses the media. Ask any question you want, and it's rare for Garrett to deviate from his pre-packaged talking points in a public forum.

It's clear he's presenting an image to his players and the public that he's forever in control. He wants us to believe nothing shakes his core and that he's fully equipped to handle the never-ending drama, real and imagined, that surrounds America's Team.

Don't get so caught up in the packaging that you miss the message. Too many folks are concerned about Garrett's sideline demeanor.

Who cares?

Landry rarely showed emotion; Johnson was a bundle of emotion. Both delivered titles.

All Garrett needs to do is be true to himself.

As Duke's Coach K said about him earlier this year, it's not important for Garrett to show he's strong -- he just needs to be strong.

And he is.

Everyone in the locker room knows and understands who's running the team.

That wasn't the case under Phillips, Dave Campo, Chan Gailey or Barry Switzer.

All you have to do is ask the veterans, who said goodbye to friends Andre Gurode, Marion Barber and Leonard Davis after the lockout ended, whether Garrett's in control.

An insecure coach would've never played the opener with essentially three rookies on the offensive line, because he'd have been afraid of losing games and credibility.

For those of you whining about why David Buehler and Martellus Bennett remain on the roster, you have to understand Garrett can't get rid of everybody at once.

Next year, Keith Brooking, Bradie James, Bennett and others will be gone.

It takes time to overhaul a roster, but he's certainly committed to it, which is why the Cowboys often work out several players on Tuesdays, the players' off day.

Garrett's constantly searching to improve the active roster or the practice squad. Ultimately, the goal is to have no bad players on the team.

Clearly, he's not there yet.

The competition for roster spots and playing time is intense. Once Garrett determined Phillip Tanner, an undrafted rookie from football power Middle Tennessee, was better than Tashard Choice, the Cowboys cut Choice.

As soon as Laurent Robinson, a street free agent acquired in September, proved he was better than Jesse Holley and Kevin Ogletree, he zoomed past them on the depth chart.

Garrett talks about "the process" so much that you're probably tired of hearing about it.

Too bad.

Building a team is a process. It takes time to build a consistent winner. Do you realize the Cowboys haven't had consecutive 10-win seasons since 1995 and 1996?

That's obscene.

Jerry, though, has tried to cheat the process too many times by spending money on free agents to make up for shoddy drafting.

The Texas Rangers, with consecutive World Series appearances, have showed us you can't cheat the process. The Dallas Stars stripped it down and are in the process of building a winner.

If Jerry leaves Garrett alone -- he will because he respects his intelligence and football acumen -- then sooner or later Garrett will deliver what you so desperately crave.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.