Ever notice a movie with some form of a time clock in the heart of its plot, specifically a ticking clock or deadline? This is not accomplished by pure coincidence. The screenwriter strategically embeds such timing elements to enhance the tension of the film's audience. Without a deadline, The Hangover has no story. Without a ticking clock, Speed is just a reckless driving ticket.
For the Dallas Cowboys and Jason Garrett, life is not scripted, yet the tension is higher than ever. Every game, every mismanaged two-minute drill, every false start is one more tick towards an explosion.
So, what if this Cowboys season were a movie? Hypothetically, how would it play out?
The setup—the Cowboys are 2-3 heading into the roughest part of their schedule, and Jerry Jones, the villain, has already stated that his window is closing and the team needs to strike soon. The players are on different wavelengths, and the fans are tired of excuses. The supporting characters have a very organic and juicy subplot.
Which brings us back to our main character: Jason Garrett. The reserved, raw, second-string quarterback turned head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
He defies all odds by claiming this position and humbly accepts the responsibility and spotlight surely to follow. This has the makings of a traditional character arc sprinkled with a picture-perfect Hollywood ending.
Unfortunately, Jason has changed—for the worse. His character is walking the line of “unlikeable.”
What is a screenwriter to do?
Insert the ticking clock.
Jason's job is on the line; the stakes are high each and every play, as the audience foams at the mouth begging for answers. Betrayal, trust, blame and sportsmanship are just a few of the natural conflicts to grow from this plot. Finally, our hero falls victim to his underachievement, and the Hollywood ending is lost.
Well, that’s just an imaginary movie plot and will never sniff the big screen.