Tuesday, December 25, 2012 Updated: December 26, 1:35 PM ET
Jason Garrett should remain coach
By Jean-Jacques Taylor ESPNDallas.com
IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett should be the head coach of your Dallas Cowboys for quite awhile.
And it doesn't matter whether they beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday night and win the NFC East. Or whether they lose the game and miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says progress can't be measured in only wins and losses.
Garrett earned another year. So get over it, and embrace the notion.
Besides, saying a win over Washington, which would give the Cowboys nine victories, is the only way to show tangible progress because it means one more victory than last season is silly.
There are certainly times to be results-oriented, just as there are times to be process-oriented.
"I think there are a lot of different ways to measure success in football and in life," Garrett said. "Bottom line is one of them, certainly, but there are a lot of other ways to do it."
These Cowboys remain flawed, but anyone who consistently watches this team can see tangible signs of improvement since September and October. Those who don't simply choose not to acknowledge the progress.
Look at the development of young players such as Bruce Carter (on injured reserve), Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Morris Claiborne, Jermey Parnell and Dwayne Harris.
Look at these Cowboys compete regardless of the score. Don't forget, we're talking about a team with guys named Sterling Moore, Ernie Sims, Brian Schaefering, Michael Coe, Eric Frampton, Rob Callaway, Brady Poppinga and Charlie Peprah who have accounted for 440 snaps the past three games.
Five games into the season, those players had zero plays for the Cowboys.
How's that for perspective?
No one is using the Cowboys' injuries as an excuse, but the reality is there does come a time when a unit becomes compromised by injuries and can't function at a high level.
Garrett has the Cowboys pointed in the right direction because he has made systemic changes that have to do with attitude and approach.
We live in a Facebook-and-Twitter world in which too many folks want results now. True change, however, takes time, whether you're trying to lose weight and reshape your body, give up smoking or build a football team.
Quicker isn't always better, and success is not always defined simply by wins and losses. Garrett understands this, and ultimately it will make him a better coach because he's assembling a team that will have sustained success once it gets good.
Why? Garrett has the proper philosophical approach to building a team.
"It's critical to be process-oriented," he said. "Think about the number of stories that have been written about the NFL over the course of the first 16 weeks.
"Who was crowned Super Bowl champion after Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4? Who was player of the year? Who was the coach of the year?
"Every Monday morning we write the history of the world in the NFL. What you need to do is fight through all of that. How do we get better? The players and teams that get better over [the] course of the season are the ones playing at the end.
"You have to live in that world. The only way to live in that world is to get rid of the results. Are we doing this thing the right way? Each and every player, each and every coach?"
Garrett controls the locker room these days. His players parrot his words and have evidence his philosophical approach to winning works.
A team that blew five fourth-quarter leads in 2011 has blown just one this season. The Cowboys have come from behind to win five games in the fourth quarter this season.
They chuckle at adversity.
Down 23-0 to the New York Giants, they led 24-23 entering the fourth quarter. Down 28-3 to Washington at halftime, they pulled to within 31-28 in the fourth quarter. Down 31-17 with five minutes left to New Orleans, they forced overtime.
As Garrett often says, there's a relentless nature to this team.
Garrett also earned respect from his players for the way he handled the tragic death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and the subsequent arrest of nose tackle Josh Brent on a charge of intoxication manslaughter.
Garrett included the players in the grieving process, while showing them a side of his personality they don't always get to see. In the process, the bond between player and coach became stronger.
None of this guarantees a win Sunday. It doesn't matter because Garrett is here to stay.