PALM BEACH, Fla. --Despite missing the playoffs in 2011, Jason Garrett has been credited for taking over a 1-7 Cowboys team in the middle of the 2010 season and making them competitive again over the last 18 months.
He also has been subject to criticism for certain in-game decisions, whether it's a failed play call or a clock management issue like in the Cowboys' Dec. 4 loss to the Cardinals.
The weekly, sometimes daily, contrast of praise and disapproval is part of the job, particularly when you're the face of the most visible franchise in sports. And that's OK with Garrett, because he's his toughest critic.
"I can give you 10 things out of every game this year that (I said), 'That wasn't very good. That was better. I kind of liked that. I didn't like that decision. I can't believe we set it up that way. I can't believe I made that decision.' All of that," Garrett said.
"When you make a lot of decisions in the position I'm in, trust me, you're going to make a lot of mistakes. The biggest thing I try to do is be critical in the self-evaluation of myself, of our staff, how we're doing things and make the adjustments -- take the emotion out of it and just be really objective as best you can when you're evaluating yourself and our staff. One of the things we try to do with our staff is we put guys together who are not yes men, guys who will hopefully tell me that wasn't very good. So hopefully we can be better, and that's our objective."
Entering his second full season as a head coach, Garrett clearly wants to improve as a play-caller and a game manager. One of his mentors, Chargers head coach Norv Turner, is impressed with the job he's done so far.
"He's obviously one of the brightest guys I've been around as a player," said Turner, the Cowboys' offensive coordinator in the early '90s when Garrett was a backup to Troy Aikman. "I haven't gotten the opportunity to coach with him but I know what he's done as a coach and certainly the people he's been with through his coaching career. It takes someone to give you the opportunity and they've given him the opportunity there.
"I think he knows you have to get good people around you, which he's done. And they're trying to get the best players they can, because that'll help make you a real good coach."