Horn: Announcers give big thumbs up to Jason Garrett

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Horn: Announcers give big thumbs up to Jason Garrett
Column by BARRY HORN / The Dallas Morning News | bhorn@dallasnews.com

The last time Sunday Night Football broadcast a Cowboys game, NBC’s Al Michaels was calling the team’s play “embarrassing.”

“It’s just been a train wreck,” Michaels told America as the Cowboys were on their way to a 45-7 shellacking by the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 7. “It is the only way to put it.”

Cris Collinsworth, Michaels’ partner in the NBC booth, wasn’t nearly as kind.

The next day, owner Jerry Jones, embarrassed by the humiliating defeat and the stinging criticism, fired Wade Phillips and anointed Jason Garrett the Cowboys’ interim coach.

Back on the Cowboys beat for Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Michaels and Collinsworth showered Garrett with rose petals.

“I will say one thing about Jason; in the first 10 seconds that I walked out to the practice field, there was a noticeable, tangible difference in the way the Dallas Cowboys were practicing,” Collinsworth reported pregame. “With Wade [Phillips] on Friday, it was kind of a jog-through, get ready for the game kind of a thing. With Jason, it was Jimmy Johnson revisited.”

The positive reviews continued throughout the game. Even after the Cowboys fell behind for good in the fourth quarter, Michaels and Collinsworth never had anything negative to say about Garrett.

Most interestingly, however, neither Michaels nor Collinsworth guaranteed Garrett would get the job full time next season. From that, you can conclude Jones told them in private conversation that he has yet to make up his mind about who will be coaching the Cowboys next season.

Costas poses tough question: Not even NBC’s Bob Costas, considered to be a master interviewer, was able to crack the Garrett sphinx.

Costas: “For the first eight games, the offense is averaging 20 points. In the last four, you’re averaging 33. What was wrong with the offensive coordinator?”

Garrett’s say-nothing response: “That’s a good question. We weren’t playing as well on offense, and certainly throughout our football team we played better over the last month.”

Jones won’t complain: If we have learned anything about Jerry Jones over the last two decades, it is that he would love the words 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley used Sunday night to introduce a segment about the Cowboys’ owner: “He is the most innovative, controversial and bombastic owner in the NFL. … Jerry Jones is the only owner in the league who is a celebrity.”

Pelley did a nice job on a piece CBS planned to be a coronation for an owner on his way to hosting his own team in a Super Bowl in his personal palace. We all know that scenario didn’t quite pan out. Instead, it was a glimpse into Jones’ personal “agony,” otherwise known at the 2010 season.

Jones may be down, but he made it clear that he certainly is not out: “If I were going to be in a foxhole with somebody,” he said. “I’d be in there with me.”

This and that: While Jones was center stage on CBS, over on NBC’s Football Night in America pregame show, analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison picked the Cowboys to beat the Eagles. … Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin talked to Costas about quarterback Jon Kitna: “He’s just got that moxie, that spunk, that ‘je ne sais quoi.’ He has something that you really can’t put your finger on, but he’s a competitor and he’s what we need right now.'”

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