In the realm of NFL running backs, DeMarco Murray stands tall, dominating the league in rushing, and it’s clear that the prime contributors to this accomplishment include not only Murray himself but also his dedicated offensive line.
It’s safe to say that they are the frontrunners for MVPs at this juncture in the season. On the other hand, quarterback Tony Romo is amid his career’s finest hour, showcasing a remarkable performance.
During a recent Sunday night showdown against the New York Giants, his efficiency rating soared to an impressive 141, marked by four touchdowns and an interception-free performance.
With a new coordinator, Rod Marinelli, the Dallas defense has undergone a remarkable transformation, vastly surpassing its previous year’s incarnation under Monte Kiffin.
The Cowboys, currently boasting an impressive 8-3 record, have numerous standout aspects garnering attention this season.
Nevertheless, the primary driving force behind their exceptional performance lies squarely on the shoulders of head coach Jason Garrett.
The author of this article had the privilege of being a part of the Cowboys organization in the final season of their professional career in 2012.
Although this tenure was relatively short, the conclusion drawn was crystal clear – Jason Garrett ranks among the NFL’s elite coaches. His win-loss record, while respectable at 37-30, hardly serves as a testament to his abilities.
Likewise, the Cowboys’ .500 record over the past three seasons and their four-year playoff absence might seem underwhelming.
However, Garrett manages to set himself apart in two pivotal ways – his unparalleled ability to communicate effectively with his players and the astute strategic choices he consistently makes.
Garrett’s most notable strategic move during the previous offseason was not rooted in innovation or revolutionary coaching techniques.
It had nothing to do with overhauling his approach to mentoring Romo.
In essence, it revolved around embracing a more traditional and time-tested philosophy that eventually revitalized the franchise – Garrett shifted his focus to the old-school principle of making running the ball the offense’s centerpiece.
Indeed, one might assume that emphasizing a solid running game is the primary objective for most coaches.
However, the landscape of the NFL tells a different story. A prevailing trend across the league showcases an increasing reliance on the quarterback as the linchpin of offensive strategies.
Teams like New England, Green Bay, and Denver have exemplified this shift. These teams, particularly those equipped with an “elite” quarterback, have embraced a style of play that revolves around unleashing a torrent of passes all over the field.
In Jason Garrett’s eyes, Tony Romo shares the same lofty status as quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. Consequently, Garrett firmly believed that Dallas’ most promising avenue in 2013 rested on the prowess of Romo’s arm.
Had Dallas won that [2013 Packers] game, it would have made the playoffs. Had that happened, who’s to say that Garrett would have changed his philosophical approach?
A pivotal moment in the previous season, he prompted Jason Garrett to reevaluate his offensive tactics.
That momentous game took place on December 15 against the Packers. Dallas began the game with a rapid offensive burst, establishing a commanding 26-3 halftime lead.
Typically, a halftime advantage of 23 points would lead most teams to adopt a conservative approach in the second half, favoring a run-heavy strategy.
Given the resounding success of their ground game in the first half, this approach seemed particularly logical.
DeMarco Murray was delivering an outstanding performance, averaging an impressive seven yards per carry, and the Packers seemed utterly incapable of finding an answer.
Despite these favorable circumstances, the Cowboys continued to air it out after halftime. Murray concluded the game with an impressive 134 rushing yards but only 18 carries.
Rather than focusing on running the ball to control the clock and secure the win, persisting with the passing game, they inadvertently allowed the Packers to mount a comeback.
Tony Romo’s two crucial interceptions ultimately paved the way for Green Bay’s stunning 37-36 victory.
The significance of that game against the Packers cannot be understated, as a win in that crucial contest would have clinched a playoff berth for the Dallas Cowboys.
It raises an intriguing question: had the outcome been different, would Jason Garrett have ever contemplated altering his coaching philosophy?
Given Garrett’s reputation as a wise and intelligent coach, it’s plausible that the Green Bay loss was a pivotal turning point, prompting him to reevaluate his approach.
And indeed, he did. This singular decision has injected a newfound vitality into the Dallas Cowboys, transforming their fortunes.
In the most recent game against the Giants, we witnessed a perfect illustration of how profoundly the running game has revitalized the Dallas offense.
Tony Romo finds himself in unparalleled ease, liberated from the onus of single-handedly carrying the team to success.
As opposing defenses focus on curtailing the ground game, it’s safe to assume that Romo, along with his esteemed receiving corps comprising Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley, must be sporting broad grins from ear to ear.
Furthermore, the improved running game has brought about a significant enhancement in pass protection.
The arduous task of thwarting a formidable rushing attack takes its toll on even the most resilient defenses, sapping their energy throughout multiple repetitions.
This fatigue was evident during Dallas’ game-winning drive against the Giants, where Romo enjoyed an abundance of time in the pocket to survey his passing options.
While many factors have contributed to the Cowboys’ resurgence, it’s crucial to pinpoint Jason Garrett as the linchpin of their success.
His humility and perceptiveness, which led to crucial philosophical adjustments, have been pivotal in elevating the once-average Dallas Cowboys into bona fide contenders in the NFC.