Playmakers on Cowboys first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
When Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett takes the field Sunday night, he will be doing so against a coaching counterpart, Tom Coughlin, whom he considers among the greatest of all time. The New York Giants head coach is entering his 12th season on the job, and Garrett understands what an accomplishment that is in today's game.
"Well, he's just one of the great coaches ever in the National Football League," Garrett said during Wednesday's conference call with Giants reporters. "It's as simple as that. His track record speaks for itself. We've had great opportunities through the years to compete against his teams and they're always really well-coached."
Garrett, who played for the Giants from 2000-2003 and served as backup to Kerry Collins during their run to Super Bowl XXXV, is familiar with his foe for Sunday night's opener. And so is his quarterback. Many would consider Giants quarterback Eli Manning the person Tony Romo has to outduel, but it's defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo that has the Dallas quarterback's attention.
"He's a great coordinator, and he's going to give you a lot of trouble," Romo said.
The "trouble" Spagnuolo can create is something Romo and many other quarterbacks have experienced previously. The Giants' defensive mastermind did some of his best work during the team's 2007 championship run. While that season is famous for the Giants' defensive efforts in holding the then-undefeated New England Patriots—who dismantled an abundance of offensive records that year--to just 14 points in Super Bowl XLII, it wasn't their only dominating showing of the playoffs.
Spagnuolo's unit held the NFC's top-seeded Cowboys, whose offense similarly powered their way to a 13-3 record, to just 17 points in the 2007 divisional round playoff game. In an effort to avoid another offensive power outage, Romo will be looking at all of Spagnuolo's recent coaching stops, including his tenure as head coach of the St. Louis Rams for three seasons, for as much information as possible.
"I've done Giants, Rams, the Saints, the Ravens, and then obviously this year," Romo said. "You look at everything, you take the stuff you think is viable, and really what I think I would take moving forward, and the stuff that's been successful that he'll bring and who he is."
Coming off an impressive 2014 campaign in which they went 12-4 on their way to the NFC East crown, Jason Garrett's Cowboys are not taking the Giants lightly, especially in lieu of their strong coaching pedigree, boasted by Coughlin.
"We just have an immense amount of respect for [Coughlin] and his football teams," Garrett said. "His record in this league as a head coach, as an assistant coach and all the great teams he's been around and all the great teams he's guided, again, speaks for itself."