A Game Of Survivor: Jason Garrett Stands Tall Among NFC East Coaches

I’m not much of a reality tv fan.

Sure I love Big Brother, but who doesn’t? I’m admittedly still a huge fan of MTV’s The Challenge, but that makes two more reality television shows than I really want in my life.

During a casual “What should we watch?” conversation with my girlfriend the subject of Survivor came up. I sort of scoffed at the idea, but she said to have faith and that I would love it.

I spent the better part of last weekend with a little bit of a cold so I had plenty of time to watch my new pal Jeff Probst teach me about this new game. At the culmination of my marathon there were three thoughts that stood out above the rest:

  • I really want some rice.
  • Rich totally deserved to win (spoiler alert… the season ended in 2000 so is this really a spoiler?).

Thankfully there are plenty of seasons for me to dive into, but I am now a lifelong fan. With Survivor on the brain though, and the 32nd season finale airing Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think about someone on the Dallas Cowboys who knows what it’s like to be one.

Jason Garrett.

What exactly has Jason Garrett survived, though? Is it the legendary “puppet” moniker that detractors have come up with? Is it his fellow NFC East Head Coaches? Is it the legendary shadow that Jimmy Johnson, who actually competed on Survivor, casted over the Dallas Cowboys back in Garrett’s playing days?

Sit down for the Tribal Council meeting while I tell you how it’s all three.

Jason Garrett The “Puppet”

Jerry Jones is a legendary figure in sports. People who don’t even watch sports know that. I mean, the dude was on Entourage (another show I love, FYI) for crying out loud.

Mr. Jones has a perception about him that people love to translate towards the football team that he happens to own, the Dallas Cowboys.

“All Jerry cares about is money!” you’ve heard ad nauseam.

“He will sign anybody! If he’s got a criminal record, he’ll be a Cowboy!” is something you’ve rolled your eyes at.

“Jerry just wants a coach to be his puppet! That’s all Garrett is.” seems to have become quite popular during the Jason Garrett era.

I’m not here to deny that Jerry Jones loves his football team because he certainly does, but he also understands what he can and cannot do. We’re all well-versed in the way Jimmy Johnson left this franchise, and Jerry himself has expressed some regret over that. He realizes where he erred and is now trying to make up for that with Coach Garrett.

Jason Garrett has the most influence of any Head Coach post-Jimmy Johnson in terms of how the team is built. A phrase that is burned into our brains it the “right kind of guy” mantra that Coach Garrett preaches in terms of the people he wants on his football team.

Did Jerry overrule Coach Garrett a year ago and his “RKG” philosophy by bringing in Greg Hardy? Certainly so. There’s no secret that Coach Garrett isn’t about that kind of player; however, after a year’s experiment Coach Garrett won out and Hardy is out on the streets. Things are changing and the wind is turning towards JG’s sails.

Jason Garrett: Longest Tenured Head Coach In The NFC East

Those words are not deceiving your eyes. We are at a place where the top veteran among the NFC East Head Coaches is that red-haired leader of the Cowboyga Tribe.

The following coaches have all been fired by their respective teams since Jason Garrett took over full-time as the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. Their records in that time (2011-Present) from NFC East competition are in parenthesis:

  • Andy Reid, fired after 2012 season (12-20)
  • Mike Shanahan, fired after 2013 season (18-31)
  • Chip Kelly, fired right before 2015 season ended (26-32)
  • Tom Coughlin, fired after 2015 season (41-43)

In that timespan Jason Garrett is an even-steven 41-41. That’s obviously two less losses than the Giants in that time (four of the Giants wins came on their road to a Super Bowl XLVI victory) and a significantly greater win percentage than the rest of the field.

What stands out to me about Jason Garrett more than anything is his relationship with Tony Romo. You look at him and Coach Coughlin and there’s a common denominator in terms of their sustained success in the NFL’s most storied division – a franchise quarterback.

I’ve dropped this stat a few times, but in case you didn’t know… Tony Romo has never, and I mean NEVER, played a game where he was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Every game that he has ever played… has mattered.

That translates towards Jason Garrett as well. Obviously Garrett has coached in games that ultimately were meaningless, but when his guy is in there he’s been money. Whether you want to attribute 100% of that to Romo is on you, but Tony himself would tell you that it hasn’t ever been him alone.

Jason Garrett Emerging From Jimmy Johnson Shadow

Jimmy Johnson’s career record with the Dallas Cowboys was 51-37. Coach Garrett is obviously approaching his total win amount, but he’s got a ways to go as far as hardware is concerned.

Coach Garrett knows how great Jimmy Johnson was better than any of us. He played for him in 1993 when the Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVIII after all.

If there’s one thing that Coach Johnson is really remembered for it’s for the disposition that he created. Losing absolutely was not tolerated. It was more than a mindset… it was a faith. Jason Garrett doesn’t necessarily have the bravado or outward personality of Jimmy Johnson, but he’s creating his own culture around the Dallas Cowboys.

The “right kind of guy” thing is real. Jason Garrett likes leaders. He likes team captains. He wants players who are going to come in and be all-stars everywhere they set foot, whether that’s on the football field or in the community.

It’s not a debate as to whether or not Jason Garrett has eclipsed Jimmy Johnson, because he obviously hasn’t as far as football is concerned. What is interesting, noteworthy, and factual though is that moreso than anyone between the two tenures… Jason Garrett is on his way.

The ✭ Tribe has spoken.

What do you think of Jason Garrett the “Survivor”? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at [email protected], or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!