IRVING, Texas – Some popular questions I've been hearing from fans during this holiday week, while we wait to watch the Cowboys finish up their regular season schedule.
Why isn't Jason Garrett interested in resting his players?
Garrett has been very clear since we opened training camp in Oxnard, Calif., that you only have 16 of these opportunities during a season, and as a team you must take advantage of every single one of them. His team has been in playoff mode since Dec. 1, and regardless of what we all think he must do, he knows better what he needs to do have them ready for the playoffs and that I do agree with. Both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett understand what is at stake and we very well might see Garrett getting this team ready all week, then Sunday afternoon decide that sitting out a few key players is exactly what this team needs. It's his way of making them prepare like it's any other game to keep them in that mindset.
You were very critical of Jason Garrett at the end of the 2013 season – thoughts changed now?
I came into this season believing that Garrett needed to get this team into the playoffs, and I also thought that would be a difficult task with the health questions at quarterback and a defense that had trouble getting off the field the majority of the season. My expectations were that Jerry Jones would in fact be making a coaching change at the end of the 2014 season. To the credit of Jason Garrett and this coaching staff, my expectations did not match theirs and Garrett, along with these coaches that are on the final year of their current deals, need to be rewarded as well. Great organizations always have a plan and their ability to execute that plan while others see fault is what separates them. The willingness of Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones not to be distracted by outside voices, like mine, calling for change should not go unnoticed. They made the right decision in keeping Jason Garrett and that is playing off for them.
Where has this Cowboys defense improved the most?
Pass coverage -- especially in these last three games. When I sit down and study the game film there is much more consistency in how they are playing as a unit. Sure, they gave up big yards to Chicago, but managed to keep them off the scoreboard. In the Philadelphia game it was night and day in the way they handled the Eagles' skill players. In the Colts game, there was no T.Y. Hilton, but they still had to deal with veterans Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks. They are making these opposing quarterbacks have to throw the ball in very tight windows. Mark Sanchez couldn't handle it and neither could Andrew Luck. As you look on the playoff horizon there are potential games against big time quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers that this group will have to navigate on their journey. This secondary will need to play with that same attitude and technique which they have this last month of the season if they are going to make any type of a playoff run.