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NFC East Examination: Garrett provides twist to Cowboys vs Giants rivalry

The next time the Dallas Cowboys see Jason Garrett, their former head coach of a decade, he will be calling plays for their NFC East rivals from New York.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks to his players before an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Dallas Cowboys will have a new look when the season begins in 2020. Dallas has a new head coach for the first time in ten years after hiring Mike McCarthy over the winter. The expectations are that McCarthy will install some fresh concepts on offense in tandem with holdover young offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. In addition, the Cowboys will debut Mike Nolan as the new defensive coordinator. 

Things are changing in Dallas after a long tenure from their previous regime. They’re also changing within the division. 

Former coach Jason Garrett took his offensive principles and headed to the New York Giants to help out head coach Joe Judge. As a first-time coach, Judge tapped Garrett to be his offensive coordinator and put him in charge of pointing a young offense in the right direction. 

Under Garrett, the Giants are beginning to look awfully similar to the Cowboys when Garrett became their offensive coordinator in 2007. Judge also mentioned the Giants offense will look a lot like how the Cowboys’ offense appeared under Garrett.

While it might draw chuckles from Cowboys fans who don’t believe in Garrett or his scheme, the Giants have the potential for a really good offense. Garrett has a young QB in Daniel Jones who has tools to work with, just like Garrett had in former Dallas QB Tony Romo. The former Cowboys and Giants backup QB from Princeton also inherits Saquon Barkley, who is one of the top running backs in the game. 

The Giants also have good weapons in the receiving game. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton are a solid trio of wide receivers, and Evan Engram is seen as an up and coming talent at tight end. 

The underlying issue with the Giants’ offense the past few seasons has been their offensive line, but just like he did with the Cowboys, Garrett set out to fix the problem. New York drafted a top tackle Andrew Thomas with the 4th overall pick, drafted another tackle, Matt Peart, in the third round and added guard Shane Lemieux in the fifth. 

To go along with the three draft picks, the Giants also added former Cowboys swing tackle Cameron Fleming and hired respected offensive line coach Marc Colombo. It should be a much better group than the one the Giants have had in recent seasons.

Garrett has been in this position before, he was once the OC for the Cowboys under Wade Phillips. In his first season with the Cowboys, Garrett’s offense finished third in yards per game and second in points. In his third season as offensive coordinator, they ranked second in offense, as well.

When Garrett arrived on the scene for Dallas in 2007, he led an offensive attack that threw the ball aggressively. There was creativity in the play designs and he mixed up the play calling to keep opponents off balance. 

In Garrett’s first few years as head coach of the Cowboys, there were many fans who insisted the team was throwing too much. Things changed as Garrett built up the offensive line and became more risk averse. 

However, without his duties as the head coach, Garrett will have much more time to devote to coaching the offense and it stands to reason that he’ll get a taste for taking more risks. The conservative run-first philosophy Garrett had with the Cowboys may not be what he brings to the Giants, and it wasn’t how he began his career with the Cowboys.

The Giants might still not be a great team in 2020, but they won’t be pushovers either. It’s easy to make light of them having Garrett as their offensive coordinator after how Garrett’s time in Dallas ended, but the joke could be on Cowboys fans this fall if they take their division rival lightly.

Do you think Jason Garrett will be able to turn the offense around in New York or are his best days calling plays in the NFL behind him? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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