Jason Garrett took over the head coaching job of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2011. He became instantly and rather affectionately known by the local media for a particular mantra. Finding the right kind of guy became the embodiment of the course the Cowboys would take throughout his tenure as head coach. Every coach needs players who buy into that message and for Garrett, that player is Tyrone Crawford.
Jason Garrett’s Right Kind of Guy and How Tyrone Crawford Fits
Heading into the 2012 season, Garrett had this to say to Carlos Mendez of The Star-Telegram, “We’re looking for the right kind of guy,” he said. He later went on to give this definition, “The right kind of guy, to us, is someone who loves to play football, who is very passionate about it, willing to work hard at it, willing to be part of a team, willing to be part of something that is maybe greater than himself.”
Fast forward to 2016 and this plan is still very much a work in progress. Troubled but talented athletes like Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain, Randy Gregory, and Joseph Randle have been the antithesis of this approach. At least it would appear that way on the surface. No one can excuse the signing of Hardy. The others point to a layer of context that is required when considering Garrett’s right kind of guy approach.
Many may point to these players as stark evidence to the contrary of Garrett’s approach. People might even call it a two-faced farce deployed by the team to save face on controversial trades, picks or signings. However, they are actually shining examples of what Garrett is specifically attempting to accomplish throughout the makeup of the roster. Establish sterling character among the core of the team, build a culture through cornerstone players, and allow the high character players to have a trickle effect on the other talented but otherwise remiss guys being brought in to fill out the roster.
How important are these cornerstone players to the Cowboy’s approach, though? In order to adequately illustrate this point, pointing to one particular example certainly makes sense. Tyrone Crawford was not a proven player, nor was he considered by any analyst as elite. Yet, he received a massive 5-year $45 million dollar extension. This made him the sixth highest paid 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL at the time. This left pundits scratching their heads as this was a huge sum of money to pay a player based off of projection and not production.
Who is Tyrone Crawford?
Crawford, a third round pick out of Boise State, was a breakout favorite heading into the 2013 season. This was after slowly earning more playing time towards the end of the 2012 season. Fans were excited to see him rushing opposite the iconic DeMarcus Ware. They were unfortunately stymied by the Achilles tear, however, that Crawford suffered on the first day of training camp. At that point, two years after he had been drafted, Crawford had barely seen the field. Not exactly a great return on your investment if you’re the Cowboys.
Hope springs eternal in the hearts of Cowboy’s fans nevertheless, and all indications were that Crawford was rehabbing nicely. The reports were all indicating that he should return to peak physical form with no issues.
After moving to the three technique position after Week Three, Crawford ended up only recording a paltry three sacks. He did lead the team though, and by quite a large margin, with 39 pressures. Naturally, this led to Crawford being the buzz of Cowboys nation heading into the off-season as a potential breakout candidate.
Everyone knows how disastrous the 2015 Cowboys were and Crawford was certainly no exception. He struggled through a shoulder injury early in the year and was never able to get quite right. He did post a career high five sacks though, which shows at least some improvement on his part.
How Crawford Fits Jason Garrett’s Mantra
Here’s how it all cycles back to Jason Garrett’s right kind of guy phraseology so emphatically repeated in every press conference. The Cowboys truly believe that Crawford’s character displayed in the weight room, on the practice field, and off the field outweighed his performance on the field. The case can certainly be made that they saw a significant leap in production coming. Perhaps they wanted to stay ahead of the outrageous salaries given out to defensive lineman. This was still a very high salary to give a player who had done little to prove he was an elite player.
In the end, it’s unlikely the Cowboys regret this contract. Still only 27 years old, the Cowboys will have him for the prime of his career. The contract may even look like a steal with salaries inflating each year the salary cap goes up. He has set a great example for young players with exemplary work ethic. He exhibits what kind of effort it takes to make it in this league. This is evident when you look at the ten pounds of pure muscle he’s added since he was drafted.
Following the recent suspensions of Demarcus Lawrence and Gregory, Crawford was very disappointed. He had this to say to David Helman of dallascowboys.com, “I had my words with them. But that’s all you can really do at this point, is have your words with them and tell them how you feel. Maybe just try and get in their head that this has got to change.”
This kind of self-policing is exactly what you are paying him for. The Cowboys are hoping his on the field production will eventually match his contributions off the field. If Crawford can get the incoming draftees as well as incumbent youngsters to buy in, then it’s all worth it. Get them acclimated to the system and maximize their production. If he can do this while keeping their noses clean, he will be worth every penny and then some.
Speaking recently, Crawford had this to say, “Not a lot of people look at us like a D-Line that can do anything. But we’re here to shock the world again just like we did a couple of years ago with guys like George Selvie and all that. It’s going to be fun.”
Shock the world Tyrone. We are all ready to watch just how fun it’s going to be.