PHOENIX – Head coach Jason Garrett feels the foundation and identity he strived for has been laid out. Now it's time for the team to reap those benefits.
Garrett talked for an hour Wednesday morning at the NFC Coaches Breakfast during the NFL Owners Meetings about the importance of this year's draft, the foundation that's been set and what still needs to occur for the team to get into the postseason and make a run.
Here are some of those highlights:
- No new developments have taken place in regards to the team's play-caller, but Garrett continued to emphasize how the job of head coach and the job of play-caller both entail great responsibilities. He's talked to people around the league about how they've handled similar situations, and his first discussion about whether or not he should be calling plays occurred two and a half years ago prior to a Monday night game against the Giants. It still doesn't seem like a stretch to think Bill Callahan will assume those duties. For more on the story, click here.
- Garrett emphasized how crucial this year's draft is. He said the Cowboys need to run better and be stronger on the offensive line. "How do you address that? Well you address that, again, through free agency or the draft," Garrett said. The team's salary cap situation doesn't permit them to do much in free agency, but Garrett said the team could still redo a couple contracts to allow them to be selective. Obviously, getting Romo done is the prime focus.
- Dez Bryant seems fine after his finger surgery, and Garrett said the star receiver is upbeat and positive. Garrett recalled how emotional Bryant was after finding out he'd broken his finger and may need immediate surgery. He quickly went to Garrett and told him he can't go on injured reserve and needed to finish the season. Bryant demonstrated physical strength, but Garrett said the strides he's seen from Bryant off the field mentally and with his maturity level have been just as great. He said the consistency Bryant's developed personally has carried over to the field.
- Sometimes Miles Austin's desire to work can be detrimental to his health. Garrett said Austin still views himself as a free agent from Monmouth, and every day he lives his life that way with his work ethic. He said he works as hard as any receiver he's been around, and sometimes Austin needs to tone it back to avoid the hamstring issues. Garrett said he thought he saw the old burst from Austin two or three times last season, and this is a critical year for him to ensure he's healthy.
- DeMarco Murray still needs a backup, and Garrett's looking for the best player available at the position. He wants someone who's durable, capable of withstanding a pounding, dynamic and a bigger back wouldn't hurt. Jerry Jones said Tuesday not to dismiss Felix Jones from anyone's thoughts, but Garrett's looking for a player who can stay healthy. He's already got his smaller back in Lance Dunbar. Garrett said he liked what Dunbar did last season, and the game never seemed too big for the undrafted free agent from North Texas, but he sees Dunbar as more of a role player.
- Fourth-round picks Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson never got to do a whole lot in their first NFL seasons. Garrett said the fruits of recent drafts are still in front of the team. He feels good about Barry Church, and he's optimistic about the players already on his roster at safety, but it's still possible another player from the draft or free agency will also compete at the spot. For more on the story, click here.
- Speaking of Wilber and Johnson, Garrett said he thought those two could have a similar arc as some of his previous draft choices that became crucial defensive contributors in later seasons. He needed foresight when dealing with players who had injuries in college, including Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, but Garrett reaped the benefits of those risks. Garrett said with more progress in the offseason, Wilber and Johnson could become defensive contributors with a more prominent role next season.
- The injuries to Mackenzy Bernadeau have been disappointing for Garrett, but he thought Bernadeau did a good job overcoming the injuries and getting better throughout the year. He said this is an important year for David Arkin to step up and contribute, and he likes the strides Ronald Leary made last year.
- Garrett feels like this team is more indicative of the type of program he wants in place, and that makes the draft even more critical. Garrett said the players brought in need to add to the culture that's been developed the last couple years, and much of that culture has to do with who he is as a head coach and which staff members are leading the team. But the players also play a substantial role. [embedded_ad]
- Garrett likes how the team's drafted the last couple years and he feels good about what the team's been able to accomplish in that time, but he knows it's not enough. Garrett described a "very urgent mentality" to get results, and he said there isn't a day that's gone by that he hasn't been urgent. "It's a competitive league, and anybody who wants to be successful in it, that sense of urgency is critical," he said. "But again, you want to make good decisions, you want to create the right kind of culture, you want to create the right kind of identity for your football team, and we're in the process of doing that."