Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is raising questions about the atmosphere at Valley Ranch. Johnson called Valley Ranch a "country club" during an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.
"All the players in this league think they’re self-motivated and that’s a bunch of bull because there are only a handful that are self-motivated," Johnson said. "So you’ve got to motivate these players through some respect but the No. 1 motivator is fear. Fear of letting down your teammates, being embarrassed or fear of losing the job. Where is the fear in Dallas? There’s no fear in Dallas. It’s a country club where everybody is buddies."
Coach Jason Garrett has changed the climate at Valley Ranch sharply from how it was under Wade Phillips. Of course, Phillips changed the atmosphere from how it was under Bill Parcells.
Garrett was asked about Johnson’s comments.
"I don’t really have any comment on that," Garrett said. "We do things the way we do things here and from a football standpoint we believe we practice the right way, we meet the right way and create the right atmosphere of urgency for our players it’s what I learned as a player and coach in this league. And that’s what we’re trying to create with our football team."
And a players’ view, courtesy of Jason Witten:
“I didn’t hear about it, but obviously he’s a great coach here in this franchise and won a lot of Super Bowls,” Witten said. “I haven’t seen him around a lot. The guys are working hard. Ultimately (talk like Johnson’s) is going to happen, but I don’t think as a player you can worry about that. You’ve got to fix it. We know the expectations. Trust me, we feel it every day and so I don’t think you allow that (talk) to get in but obviously got a lot of respect for him.”
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was asked about Johnson’s comments Thursday.
"When you’re out here, when you’re involved in it, and you’re here every day, i think you understand the importance of each football game," Romo said. "All I can speak about is me, the grind and the way it works on you when you don’t win a football game, it’s just enormous. The way you constantly evaluate and think about how to improve and get better and take the next step. it consumes your thoughts. That’s really what happens after a loss, so I don’t know what anybody else feels or thinks, but that’s absolutely what you try to do to improve and get better."
Johnson has formed a good relationship with Garrett in terms of being a mentor. In the same interview with Patrick, Johnson questioned whether Garrett would remain the man in charge at Valley Ranch.
"Jason Garrett is probably coaching for his job for the rest of the year," Johnson said. "This game with Philadelphia on Fox may decide the future of coaches and players with those two teams."
Maybe Johnson was channeling Bob Arum, the boxing promoter who hypes fights. And with the Eagles and Cowboys at 3-5, the loser most likely will see their playoff hopes disappear. So creating media drama is expected.
The quarterback, Tony Romo, who’s got one year left on his deal, might also be on the way out according to Johnson.
"I would extend Tony Romo unless I had somebody better, and they don’t have anybody better," Johnson said.
EDITORS COMMENT: At The Boys Are Back blog we are always interested in your view. I agree with Jimmy Johnson on his point of most players needing motivation. Jason Garrett has had many influences in his career as a Dallas Cowboy player, offensive coordinator, and head coach. He uses a hybrid style that blends those influences (Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson). Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells were more outwardly aggressive and verbally expressive on camera. Tom Landry more reserve publically, but privately critical and a strict disciplinarian. Jason Garrett’s style falls somewhere in the middle. He’s young and still figuring out his style and approach. As fans, we do not know what happens behind closed doors at Valley Ranch or in the locker room. We do know that the players seem to be behind him and appear to be buying into his system. When the day comes when they don’t … that’s the day to begin worrying. Jason Garrett is evolving … and like the Dallas Cowboys, he’s a work in progress.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stops by practice, defends Garrett
Stephen Jones visited practice and ran into reporters, one of whom stopped him to get his thoughts on the topics of the day. Before long, everyone with a notepad and camera had surrounded the Cowboys’ executive vice president.
Is Jason Garrett coaching for his future?
“I won’t even comment on that. Period. That’s ridiculous,” Jones said.
Any comment on Jimmy Johnson saying there is a country-club atmosphere at Valley Ranch?
“Don’t have one.”
A comment or a country club?
“Don’t have one.”
“Any serious questions?”
What kind of job do you think Garrett is doing?
“First of all, I think Jason is incredibly smart. No one understands the game more,” Jones said. “He grew up at a breakfast table knowing about the NFL. His father was a coach. His father was a scout. He understands the league. He is a great leader. He leads our team in a great way.
“I think he understands the game. He has been a very success offensive coordinator. He started having success immediately. It wasn’t like there was a huge learning curve for him as a play caller. We have had a lot of great offenses here under Jason. We are moving the ball good this year for the most part. The players respect him. He demands accountability.”
Jones agreed that turnovers are a problem this year. The Cowboys have 19, tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for second-most in the NFL.
“We have to do better there. I think we are improving,” Jones said. “We protected the ball against the Falcons. They are a good football team. We are doing some things to cause turnovers. We are tipping balls. They just didn’t come our way. We were hitting the quarterback hard. The ball was on the ground. We just didn’t recover it.
Asked if the Cowboys were underachieving at 3-5, Jones said, “Absolutely. We had higher expectations than this. We are disappointed with our record. We have to play better. We have to finish.”