Make no mistake: it’s hard to dislike Garrett. He’s intelligent, funny, charismatic and sometimes even a little playful in his dealings with the media. He opens each daily media session by asking the media “how are we doing today?” and ends each session by urging the gathered throng of reporters to have a good day.
But he also can be a little infuriating to the media. Ask him about a player on the team’s medical report — whether the player has blown out every ligament in a knee or has a runny nose — and the answer will be the same: “(Player) will be evaluated every day, and we’re hopeful he’ll be able to play Sunday.” Ask him about an opponent — regardless of whether the team is at the top or bottom of the standings and statistical rankings — and he’ll insist that “(team) has great players, and will be a big challenge for us.” It’s as if the team’s public relations staff pre-recorded a series of non-inflammatory quotes that say absolutely nothing and inserted a computer chip in the back of Garrett’s brain.
But Garrett’s unwillingness to rock the boat sits just fine with his players.
“This is my 10th season in the NFL,” defensive end Kenyon Coleman said, ” and I have played for some really good coaches. As a communicator and a motivator, Coach Garrett is as good as there is in the league.”
That may be, but no matter how much Garrett wants to convince everyone that each game is “just another” on the schedule, and no more or less important than the other 15, he can’t make that claim this week. The Cowboys and New York Giants will square off Sunday night in a game that couldn’t have higher stakes. It couldn’t be more simple: the winner claims the NFC East division championship and hosts its first playoff game, while the losing team goes home.
Many members of the media have speculated that Garrett surely must conjure up more intensity and emotion on the practice field and in team meetings, when he can impress upon his players the urgency of certain games. Coleman said that isn’t the case.
“This game says it all,” Coleman said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a playoff game for us — hopefully our first playoff game.”
Coleman said that while Garrett’s even-keel demeanor might frustrate the media, it is exactly what the team needs.
“Coach Garrett has a unique style, but he’s a great coach,” Coleman said. “The best way to explain Coach Garrett is to say he’s ‘passionate.’ You (the media) might not see it, but he is. He’s incredibly competitive and passionate. The thing is, he knows how to control it.
“As a player and as a coach, he has had nothing handed to him. So he had to work for everything he accomplished, and he learned how to perform with his back against the wall.”