Commentary

Welcome to Jason Garrett's domain

From practices to nutrition, Cowboys coach grows comfortable leaving stamp

Updated: August 8, 2012, 1:04 AM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. -- If there is one thing that is indisputable through the Dallas Cowboys' first eight practices in California, it is that this is Jason Garrett's training camp.

The Cowboys head coach is everywhere.

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett
AP Photo/James D SmithJason Garrett is spreading himself around at Cowboys camp as he grows into his role as head coach.
It's as if there are holograms on the practice field, because he can watch the offensive line at one moment, then spin and look at the linebackers go through drills. One day he spotted an almost imperceptible limp from Tyrone Crawford and quietly summoned an athletic trainer to check out the rookie defensive end, who aggravated a calf injury.

He'll offer words of encouragement to a third-team cornerback and playfully jab DeMarcus Ware when the All-Pro outside linebacker is slow to react to a running play.

"Wear him out," Garrett said with Ware smiling back.

He'll throw passes back to the equipment room interns during punt drills and razz Jerry Jones' grandchildren for their shirtless workout prior to practice.

"He notices everything," wide receiver Miles Austin said. "We'll be watching film and he'll be coaching somebody else up and I'm still on film running a route and if I didn't run it the right way, I'll be thinking to myself about it and he'll jump up and say, 'Hey, Miles, you could've done this or this.' It's something you don't think he'd catch, but he'll catch it."

As he starts his second full season as the head coach, Garrett is much more comfortable in his role.

"As you do it more, you get better at it," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "I think obviously Jason is showing tremendous leadership with our team, and everything was a little different. Even his first full year he didn't really get because you had the work stoppage. This is really his first full year."

Garrett's stamp is not just related to what happens on the field.

The organization has brought in a senior analytics manager in Ken Kovash and added a director of football research title to Will McClay's scouting duties to study the use of statistics in football in a way baseball uses "Moneyball" analysis.

Garrett attended the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in the winter but wonders about the practicality in a sport with so many moving pieces.

Witten The details don't go unnoticed with him. As a player, as a leader, you appreciate that because everything does matter. That's what you want as a player from your head football coach.

-- Jason Witten on Jason Garrett
"That information can be good," Garrett said. "It can confirm and verify what you think and sometimes it's, 'Boy, that's interesting.' Sometimes with statistical analysis, you've got to go back and make sure you can take it out of the classroom and put it in real life if you try and use that to help you make decisions in a game."

"Oftentimes, the decision to go for it or not go for it on fourth down has to do with the matchup of that right guard over that defensive tackle, or the conditions or the wind."

The Cowboys added a nutritionist to be in charge of the team's meals in Amy Goodson, a licensed sports dietician who works with the Texas Rangers and TCU. Gone are the days of fried and fatty foods from local restaurants. In are healthier choices that can be designed for specific players to maintain or drop weight.

"These guys work so hard that you've got to make sure they understand their bodies more, how to fuel their bodies, how nutrition helps the body recover better," Garrett said. "She's really good and has an understanding of what athletes need."

This offseason, the Cowboys began working with Chad Bohling, the New York Yankees' director of optimal performance. Bohling helps with the mental side of the game in getting the players to be the best they can be regardless of the situation in practice or in a game.

Bohling was around the Cowboys a little in the offseason and leading up to the draft. He spent time last week in Oxnard, mostly observing.

"There's a saying: 'Everything matters,'" tight end Jason Witten said. "The details don't go unnoticed with him. As a player, as a leader, you appreciate that because everything does matter. That's what you want as a player from your head football coach. There's no task too little or too big. Everything in between, he handles and does a phenomenal job handling it.

"I don't know how he does it, but I think that's what makes a really good head coach."

Bill Parcells kept a plaque in his office that read, "Just coach the damn team," to keep him focused when he would sometimes splinter off into different directions of the job.

Garrett has the added responsibility of being the playcaller. While Bill Callahan carries the offensive coordinator title, Garrett's involvement will not change, and owner and general manager Jerry Jones does not believe Garrett will get overwhelmed.

"The head coach that has a specialty on one side of the ball or the other, it is quite a challenge to get knowledgeable enough to do anything other than delegate on the other side of the ball," Jones said. "Jason has got the intellect to do it. That is why I'd rather have him, I think, than anybody else in the country."

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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