Cowboys' Jason Garrett holds urgent meeting with players ahead of Week 11 win over Lions

Jason Garrett is more self-aware than people think, and more than he'd ever let on publicly. While his answers to the media will remain consistent regardless of the outcome of a game, what he says behind closed doors varies greatly and mirrors the tone of whatever occurred in the most recent contest. 

That said, there's a reason he called an urgent meeting with players on Thursday, as reported by Jane Slater of NFL Network on Sunday following the Cowboys' 35-27 victory over the Detroit Lions -- which wasn't denied by Garrett on Monday. He wouldn't reveal what was said in the meeting itself, or if it happened, but it was reportedly for him to take full accountability for items that turned sideways in Week 10, during and after they suffered their fourth loss of the season when the visiting Minnesota Vikings stole one in Arlington.

When asked specifically what was said in the Thursday meeting, Garrett channeled his inner Bill Belichick, the irony being that's who he's preparing to face in Week 12. His tone also implied there was a meeting, even if he wouldn't officially confirm it.

"We're focused on New England," Garrett told 105.3FM the Fan. "We typically keep that stuff in-house. I have no comment on that."

Whatever he said, it worked, at least enough to avoid falling to .500 on the season at the hands of backup quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Leading into their battle in Detroit, Garrett knew the loss to Minnesota -- with all it entailed -- was another black eye in his efforts to land a new contract with the Cowboys in 2020. His hot seat has cooled since halting the team's three-game losing streak, but there's still a chance he doesn't land another contract if the Cowboys can't fix things to the point they make a deep playoff run, which likely includes an appearance in the NFC Championship Game or better. And so, his frustration boiled over while the Vikings celebrated at AT&T Stadium, leading to a rare crack in his armor in at least one public statement that followed.

In speaking with 105.3FM the Fan after the loss to the Vikings, Garrett was asked about a key play that helped cost the Cowboys a potential comeback win, when wide receiver Tavon Austin opted to fair catch a late-game punt as opposed to attempting a return, having a lot of space to do so with the Vikings special team gunners having taken inside routes -- as opposed to outside. Garrett stated he didn't firmly instruct Austin to call a fair catch, but to instead assess the situation and make a decision one way or the other.

"The way he saw it, he went ahead and made the fair catch," he said. "Looking back at it, he might've had an opportunity to go."

The comment set off a firestorm of reaction, especially fueled by Austin himself saying he "did what he was told to do." Garrett would eventually walk back his comments and take full accountability, noting the coaching staff "didn't communicate well enough" to Austin, and slammed himself and the staff for doing a "poor job" on that play. The loss itself also included three consecutive plays to Ezekiel Elliott that were ill-advised, considering the Vikings had sold out to stop him all game, so when offensive coordinator Kellen Moore called a halfback run off the left edge -- with Garrett's green light -- that ended in a three-yard loss, All-Pro center Travis Frederick immediately stood up after the play and unleashed toward the sideline.

Frederick was furious at the play call, and his reaction was as rare as it was inflamed, adding another layer of concern for the coaching staff as the team fell to 5-4 in another game they could've and should've won.

Everyone's again in better spirits this week with a 6-4 record and sole ownership of the top spot in the NFC East, but Garrett and the team do realize there's more work to be done, as evidenced by being pushed to the limit by Driskel as the defense struggled for the majority of the game. It was Dak Prescott to the rescue, though, in an MVP effort that carried the day with 444 passing yards and three touchdowns, finally aided by the defense clamping down on the Lions final drive of the game to force a punt.

As they get back to work to prepare for the biggest test of their season in the Patriots, Garrett has seemingly healed any and all possible locker room fractures handed out by the Vikings. The energy is again upbeat, and everyone -- players and coaches included -- are all again locking arms going forward. A healthy locker room will always win more than one where everyone side eyes everyone else, and Garrett understands this, along with its impact on his future employment in Dallas.

The reality is football isn't just about the X's and O's on paper, but also the ones that imply hugs and kisses, because no one is going to fight for someone they feel throws them under the bus -- even if it's only a light shove.

Our Latest Stories