It was a long two weeks for the Dallas Cowboys leading up to the Ravens game. Most of us had overcome the gut wrenching loss to Chicago. The hope was once again beginning to creep in. Maybe, just maybe, the Dallas Cowboys could get it together, go in to Baltimore and beat those Ravens in their own back yard. Yes Cowboys’ fans did it again. We set ourselves up for yet another disappointment.
I reviewed the game tape several times prior to doing this article because I was trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. The more I watched, the more the realization hit me that Jason Garrett is not qualified to do the job. Why? Well, I am certain that most of you are immediately thinking of the time out. Yes that was the kill shot, but it goes much deeper than that.
Down and distance is the most important aspect of winning football games. Mental mistakes, drops, and foolish penalties are the Achilles heel for any football team. As someone who was raised by a coach, I see things in a different light than your average football fan. The most important aspect of having a successful football team is accountability. Yep, players need to be held accountable for their actions. There has to be some structure.
How does one create this structure? There has to be genuine competition at every position. This is important because it prevents players from getting too comfy. Once a player has the mindset that there is no one on the roster that can take his job, he loses the hunger that drove him to win that job in the 1st place (Doug Free). It is obvious that Garrett hasn’t created that type of environment.
What I believe to be the biggest problem under Jason Garrett, is using this ridiculous seniority pecking order (Kevin Ogletree), or a guy being guaranteed a job just because of where he was drafted. (Morris Claiborne). I am not taking anything away from Mo, but let’s face it, he is not as good as the the veteran Mike Jenkins. Which brings me to my next point. If you had a job and they brought in some completely inexperienced guy and kicked you to the curb: how hard would you want to work for that company?
Discipline: Where do I start here? Ok, here it is, attitude reflects leadership. Where does leadership start? It should start with head coach. There is no fear factor in Dallas anymore. Can you name one time in the history of the Dallas Cowboys when they had 13 penalties in three of the first five games of the season? What are the consequences for these actions? Apparently none. I am yet to see Jason Garrett pull a player aside after a drive killing penalty and reprimand him in any way shape or form. Tom Landry didn’t even have to open his mouth. All he had to do was give a player “the look” and he knew it better not happen again. Why doesn’t Garrett command that kind of respect? Former Dallas Cowboys coaches Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells did.
Preparation: The most important aspect of coaching any type of team is having the players prepared for every conceivable situation. If this is the case: why do I constantly see Tony Romo having to tell people where to line up? Why should a professional athlete have to be told to hurry back to the line because the clock is running out? Why do I constantly see receivers running the wrong route? Who’s fault is that? What really gets me, is that Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo always gets the blame.
What most people don’t understand is that all passing plays are based on timing. The best analogy I can use to explain this is hunting. If a deer is running across a field: are you going to aim right at him? Of course not. You have to anticipate where he is going to be and squeeze the trigger. Every time a QB throws a pass it’s based on anticipation. Every receiver has a route to run. Tony throws the ball to where the WR is supposed to be. If he doesn’t get there, how is that the QB’s fault? That receiver is supposed to know that he is running a comeback route and that when he gets to the 15 yard line he is supposed to turn around and come back to the 10 for example. If Tony throws the ball to the 10 and that guy keeps going, more times than not it’s a pick. How many times has that happened this year? If you understand the routes and watch the tape, you will be amazed.
I want to give you a little something to think about here. In 2011 Tony Romo only had 10 interceptions in 16 games with Laurent Robinson and the previous offensive line. He already has 9 in 5 games. What changed? Kevin Ogletree and the new offensive line. What does that tell you? In spite of all the drops, picks and running for his life, Tony is completing 67.4% of his passes. That is among the best in the NFL. Did you ever really wonder how many of those picks came as the result of a route run wrong, or a catchable ball bouncing off of the receiver, or Tony having to throw on the run, or Tony taking a hit while he is trying to release the ball? If you can’t answer that, I suggest you re-watch the games.
In closing, the question now becomes: how is Jason Garrett responsible for the loss in Baltimore among other games?
Clock management: Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett is 7-9 when the Cowboys are trailing with a chance to win in the 4th quarter. When the Cowboys are trailing in the 4th quarter, Jason Garrett needs to go to the no huddle offense. Constantly waiting until there is only one second left on the play clock not only gives the defense time to get set and rest, but it also burns valuable seconds off the clock that are needed for end game.
The argument came out of valley ranch that he made the right decision by kicking the FG. Mickey Spagnola said on “Talkin Cowboys” that the fans are assuming that another play would have worked to get them closer without a penalty or a turnover. My answer to Mickey Spagnola is that he is assuming that Bailey (a kicker who is not known for having a big leg) was going to make a 51 yard FG in the wind. I have to say they had better odds of running a play and getting him closer. The running game was working great all afternoon. Why not run the play action in that situation ? Many try to blame Romo for 4th quarter losses, but the fact is, he has a career 112 passer rating in the 4th quarter. #1 in the NFL. Jason Garrett’s blunders during the final seconds of the game have cost this team 3 losses in the last 10 games. Name one coach that ever iced his own kicker.
Preparation: It’s obvious the players on this offense are not properly prepared on how to handle end game situations. There is no excuse for what we are seeing. Saying things like noise effected it because Ogletree didn’t know if they called time out or not is ridiculous. Ogletree saying there was no communication in the huddle to hurry back to the line to spike the ball is even more ridiculous. Any football player at any level knows you always hurry back to the line when the clock is running out. Professional receivers should not be getting flagged for failing to get set after a shift. The QB shouldn’t have to be telling “Professional” athletes where to line up. Jason Garrett, knowing how far his receivers were down field should have called the time out and made an attempt to get Bailey in better range playing outdoors in the wind. The better option would be to call short out routes so once the ball is caught they can step out of bounds to stop the clock. One of the biggest problems I see in this area is Garrett’s inability to make mid game adjustments.
Discipline: The Cowboys are currently the most penalized team in the NFL. It seems like every time the team gets in the red zone there are foolish pre-snap penalties. This falls back on the coaching.
Accountability: When he was doing the Jason Garrett show on the Fan, Garrett was asked what he is doing to hold the players accountable for their actions. He said he talks to them and they watch it on tape. Gosh, every week in the post game interviews Jason Garrett has the same answer. We will watch the tape and get better. It’s not working. He said you can’t just bench players for making mistakes and no coach he was ever around did that. That I find comical because Norv Turner recently benched Ryan Matthews for fumbling in the endzone. Andy Reid benched their #1 WR DeSean Jackson for missing a meeting. Ogletree has been given every opportunity to show something over the last few years. The only thing he has shown is that he is consistent at being inconsistent. Dropping passes, running routes wrong, drawing penalties for failing to get set, and his lack of urgency to get back to the line merit some time on the bench. What is the purpose of keeping 6 WR’s on the roster if Beasley isn’t going to get a shot? Jason Garrett’s continued decision to allow “progress stopping” is also hurting this team.
You can draw your own conclusions, but the fact remains that the Dallas Cowboys defense is #1 in total defense and #2 against the pass. The Garrett led offense is the Achilles heel of this team. Tom Landry has got to be doing flips in his grave seeing how undisciplined and unprepared this once proud franchise has become. What has happened to America’s Team? Jason Garrett happened.