DALLAS – Lost in the glow of a glorious 35-17 victory over the New York Giants was the fact that Jason Garrett collected his 78th win as a head coach and continued an impressive climb up the all-time rankings that many Cowboys fans would prefer to dismiss.
Quick question. Which of these four Super Bowl coaches has a better regular season win-loss record than Garrett: Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Noll, Marv Levy or Mike Ditka?
If you guessed Levy – who led Buffalo to four straight Super Bowls even if he could never grab a ring – you are incorrect. Same if you picked Johnson.
Or Ditka. Or Noll.
In fact, if the Cowboys win in Washington on Sunday, Garrett steps up one more notch past Bill Parcells with a .570 win percentage.
Now I understand and am fully aware of the difference between Garrett and all these familiar names, three of them Hall of Famers. Super Bowl appearances have escaped Garrett, at least since he was a deep reserve quarterback, and NFC Championship Game contests are missing from the coaching resume as well.
If he’s going to climb past 100 victories in Dallas, at least one of those spaces will have to be filled.
But there is a point here that Garrett isn’t a bad guy to have around during the regular season. It’s not just because his record is better than people think but also due to his placid demeanor. He’s the steady hand this franchise needs to sidestep midseason drama that can ruin a club.
Even without recent postseason success, we know the Cowboys lead the NFL in headlines. Or they’re at least No. 2 behind Antonio Brown. But while the Cowboys did the media world a favor by providing Zeke Elliott stories for six weeks this summer, he was under a new contract in time for Sunday’s game and, while not great against New York, should return to something approaching that level quite soon.
Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper showed Sunday that their agents can have ongoing negotiations while they perform at Pro Bowl levels. Unless you’re overly worried about defensive end Robert Quinn being suspended for one more game, this is a drama-free team at the moment.
Now consider their next two opponents.
The Redskins are almost certainly going to have to rely upon the ageless (they hope) Adrian Peterson after making him a healthy scratch in the season opener. Derrius Guice was injured in Philadelphia and it’s not yet known how long he might be out, but Peterson’s teammates weren’t thrilled with the future Hall of Famer being healthy and out of uniform. Tackle Morgan Moses called it “a slap in the face,” and head coach Jay Gruden’s response to critics was bizarre.
“If we have a game where we think we can run the ball 55 times in the I-formation, then sure, I’ll get him up,” Gruden said.
Meanwhile, their best tackle, Trent Williams, has had a far more significant absence than Zeke’s all summer, even if it rarely makes national headlines. Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has refused to play after a dispute over the team’s medical treatment and the club has shown no willingness to trade him. Consider this no more important than Tyron Smith missing games for Dallas. Anything bad ever ensue when that happens?
The trip to Washington will be followed by a visit from Miami, which is currently a 17-point underdog at home to New England. But it’s early in the week. That line could go higher after the Dolphins opened with a 49-point loss to Baltimore. In the wake of that embarrassment, according to Pro Football Talk, several Dolphins veterans have asked their agents to seek immediate trades.
Call it the Antonio Brown fallout and blame New England if you like. Regardless, Dolphins players believe head coach Brian Flores is more interested in draft picks than victories. It’s hard to doubt that when you realize that while Quinn was sidelined in Dallas, other former Dolphins starters enjoyed victories for Tennessee (Cameron Wake), Buffalo (Frank Gore) and New Orleans (Kiki Alonso) while Danny Amendola settled for a tie after catching passes for 104 yards for Detroit.
Meanwhile, all is quiet – relatively speaking – at the Star. Yes, Jerry Jones will make his regular radio show and postgame appearances, and find ways to keep the club’s brand in the spotlight for reasons significant and trivial. Garrett will simply pilot the ship, keep players on point, mention that Prescott “wants five throws back” after a perfect passer rating game and continue to climb his way past coaching legends.
His future won’t be determined until winter and rightfully so. But, for the Cowboys, fall looks pretty sound in his hands.
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