Cowboys Front Office And Coaching Reason For Skid


The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and front office share the blame in the team’s 2-3 start.

There’s a saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

This saying applies to the Dallas Cowboys as they find themselves 2-3, in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East, and on a three game losing streak.

Of course, quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant are out nursing injuries, so that is one reason for the losing streak.

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Everyone wants to blame back up quarterback Brandon Weeden for the Cowboys failure. Although he’s played a role, he’s not the primary reason the Cowboys have lost three games in a row . In fact, Weeden played well enough against the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints to win those games.

Ditto the New England Patriots game.

The blame for the Cowboys losing streak begins and ends with the front office and the coaching staff.  Since the front office drafts the players and makes key personnel decisions, lets start with them.

In the off season, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones offered Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray $12 million in fully guaranteed money. It was a low ball contract. Murray led the league in rushing with 1,845 yards and set the franchise’s single season rushing record.

Murray would sign with divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles for $42 million, with $18 million guaranteed. Jones didn’t attempt to increase more guaranteed money to Murray.

Basically, the Cowboys didn’t anticipate Murray playing for them in 2015.

That’s why they low balled him in the first place.

I’m very aware of Murray’s injury history, so I understood what Dallas was doing from an organizational standpoint. The Cowboys were notorious for re-signing injury-prone players or players passed their prime. To see them change their philosophy, would do wonders for the Cowboys.

Sep 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray carries the ball in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Over paying for players had been the Cowboys Achilles heel.

However, it looks like the Cowboys made a mistake by not re-signing Murray. The Cowboys were $6 million apart in guaranteed money. If they had come closer, say $16 million, maybe he stays.

He wanted to remain with the Cowboys, too.

The Cowboys’ offense misses his production because the running game is below average. Jones claimed he was satisfied with the current running backs on the roster. At the time, the primary runners were Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, with the expectation of drafting another.

The Cowboys didn’t draft a running back.

Instead, they signed free-agent running back Darren McFadden, whose only injury-free season was in 2014. The Cowboys let one injury-prone runner go only to sign another.

As a result, the rushing attack is suffering. The Cowboys have 531 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns through five games.

To make matters worse, Randle is averaging 3.9 yards per attempt and McFadden is averaging 3.5.

Not having a legit ground attack means no play action and no 12-play drives. This equates to the defense staying on the field too long. The Patriots game proved that.

Furthermore, Randle goes down easily, rarely does he break any tackles.  With no pass rush, teams stack the box and dare the quarterback to make a play.

That same quarterback play is another issue the Cowboys’ brass didn’t address in the offseason. After witnessing the lackluster performance from Weeden against the Arizona Cardinals last season, Dallas didn’t seek an upgrade for a back up quarterback. Instead, they kept him on the roster.

Now they are paying for it.

I don’t put the losing streak squarely on Weeden’s shoulder. He made a few mistakes, but he played well enough to win two of the three games he started.

The coaching staff admitted they limited his options against the Falcons.

This leads to another problem for the Cowboys, which is that same coaching.

Without Romo and Bryant, the offensive coaching has looked bland at best. There is no creativity, no offensive strategy to keep defenses guessing, no surprise plays, no players stepping up, no nothing.

It’s understandable that Romo and Bryant aren’t easily replaceable,  but the drop off shouldn’t be so drastic that the offense can’t move the ball and score points.

The offense is so vanilla and predictable that opposing defenses don’t make any changes. Defenses realize wide receivers Terrance Williams and Devin Street are no threat and can’t beat defensive backs off the line of scrimmage.

Instead of putting Williams or Street in motion to give them an advantage, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan runs the same plays. The Patriots defense had a field day covering the Cowboys receivers.

This made it easy for the Patriots to keep tight end Jason Witten in check.

When a team loses its starting quarterback and best receiver, the coaching staff is supposed to get creative and find ways to win close games, particularly when it has an 11-point lead with a below average backup quarterback.  In addition to poor offensive play calling, losses to the Falcons and Saints can be attributed to the defense as well.

Until the Cowboys played the Patriots, the defense only had five sacks. They recorded that same number against the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.

That happens when Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain are playing.

Granted, the Cowboys were without their two enforcers for the first four games because of suspensions. However, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli did very little to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The defense rarely blitzed and the secondary looked worse than predicted, especially in the Patriots game.

Overall, this makes head coach Jason Garrett look like a rookie head coach all over again. His current team looks nothing like a team who must “Finish The Fight.”

Moving forward, the Cowboys will start Matt Cassel at quarterback, with enforcers Hardy and McClain anchoring the defense. Plus, rookie-defensive end Randy Gregory will be back.

For the Cowboys sake, maybe Cassel can win enough games until Romo returns and keep their playoff hopes alive.

If not, remember the Cowboys failed to plan and, as a result, planned to fail.

Next: Dallas Cowboys Bye Week Stock Report

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