When Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey held the same position with the Dallas Cowboys, he went 4-3 in seven games in which his Ivy League quarterback was forced to start. Today, Jason Garrett is the head coach of the Cowboys, and set to take on his former coach in his new role.
Gailey says he isn't surprised at Garrett's success as a coach, but how are Cowboys fans feeling about him in his second year on the job? Dave Halprin of BloggingTheBoys.com is positioned better than anyone to answer that question.
"As usually happens with new coaches in the NFL, there are a wide-array of opinions about Jason Garrett so far," Halprin told me. "I think the bulk of Cowboys fans are pleasantly pleased so far with his 9-7 record as the head coach, and are optimistic about the future of the franchise. The Cowboys had totally fallen apart as a team last year under Wade Phillips, and Garrett has been able to piece it back together quickly."
What is it about Garrett that has Cowboys fans thinking so positively about their head coach? Halprin supplies an answer that sounds similar to the sentiment Gailey has garnered in a year and a half on the job in Buffalo.
"When people speak positively of Garrett, it's usually about the way he's brought accountability back to the team, the way he's molded a new attitude among the players, and made the Cowboys a tougher team mentally and physically," says Halprin. "He's also made significant changes to the roster which needed to be made, and most of the moves are working out. He's decisive and demanding, and so far it's showing progress. On the negative side, people have problems with his play-calling and strategy on game day. The Cowboys are terrible in the red zone, and fans have turned to Garrett as part of the problem."
Aside from a Week 2 win over San Francisco (their only loss of the season), the Cowboys have beaten just one team with a winning record this season (though three of five fit that description a year ago). Much like Gailey's Bills, Garrett's Cowboys are trying to prove that they're playoff contenders despite some disappointing - if close - losses to "better" teams. That, plus the history between the two, will make for a very interesting day on Sunday.