Jason Garrett is making his debut as a head coach today, against a team he used to play for. So I took a little trip down memory lane this week and spoke with Jim Fassel and Kerry Collins, the two people Garrett worked most closely with during his tenure with the Giants.
You can read the article here.
When I called Fassel for the interview, my call went straight to his voicemail. Then he called me back a few moments later. Was he screening his calls? Nope. Turns out Fassel was in the process of leaving a message for Garrett at the very moment I was dialing him.
"I just called him said 'Hey, I know you’re getting a ton of phone calls so don’t worry about calling me back,'" Fassel said. "'Just wanted to tell you good luck, be yourself, enjoy it and you'll do fine.'"
One thing that I didn’t have room to get into in the story was whether or not Garrett will make a difference for the Cowboys this season.
“Well, there’s nowhere to go but up,” Fassel said. “Right off the bat you’d say he has a good chance. If he makes improvements, then he gets a lot of credit for this. But that may be a difficult thing too.”
Fassel also said that Garrett will quickly realize what it means to be a head coach.
“The transition is, now you’re the man,” Fassel said. “The one thing I sometimes chuckle at when people undervalue it, head coach in the NFL is a huge job. You’ve got all kinds of people to manage, you have egos to manage, you have all kinds of stuff going on. It is not just Xs and Os and teaching Xs and Os and walking out on the field. There’s a lot of stuff that goes beyond that. So he now will get some on-the-job training and some situations that will test his philosophies to see how they work.
“Every coach, if they’re honest with themselves as they go through, they make mistakes and they say ‘I wouldn’t do that again’ or ‘I would approach that differently.’ He’ll do that. That’s why, sometimes, if you’ve got years of experience you’ve gone through that process and you have a tendency to make less mistakes. But he’s been a coach in his mind for a long time.”
I also asked Collins, who had nothing but good things to say about Garrett, whether or not he thinks his former backup has the stomach to call out some players.
“I absolutely do,” Collins said. “Jason knows what it takes to be a head coach. He’s been around it enough. He knows there are certain times when you have to make tough decision and be tough and be stern. He realizes when he has to do it and that there are times when not to do it. But I love the way he’s come out and said ‘Hey I’m the coach, this is my team, we’re going to do things the right way and play football the way that I believe in.’”