Dallas Cowboys: How being conservative will hurt the team

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys gestures in the fourth quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys gestures in the fourth quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Losing to the New Orleans Saints is one thing, but the manner in which the Dallas Cowboys lost the game raises more concerns moving forward.

After the Dallas Cowboys won three straight games in dominating and convincing fashion, America’s Team came crashing down to reality with an ugly, uninspired loss to the Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints in a prime time Sunday Night football game.

The Cowboys were even slight favorites to beat their NFC rivals down in New Orleans-even though that is a hard place to win a game. And as you already are aware of, the Cowboys lost a winnable game to a Saints team without their future Hall of Fame quarterback.

The Cowboys lost a 12-10 game that was more reminiscent of a time when players wore leather helmets with no face mask. And after watching the Cowboys lose, it must stay away from that strategy if it wants to play in the postseason.

Simply put, the Cowboys must stay away from a conservative style of play because its only going to hurt the team as whole and decrease their chances of winning the NFC East- let alone making the playoffs.

Losing to the Saints without All Pro Drew Brees is unacceptable on so many levels because Teddy Bridgewater literally played like a backup quarterback. But Dallas didn’t lose because of its defense-which finally played inspired football for a change.

Dallas loss because of its conservative game plan.

How being conservative will hurt Dallas

Despite scoring 30 plus points against the likes of the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and the Miami Dolphins of the Junior Pee Wee league, Dallas played like a high scoring juggernaut en route to its first Super Bowl appearance since the Clinton Administration.

What made Dallas’ wins so different was the volume of passes thrown by Dak Prescott and the creativity of the schemes used by newly offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Well after watching Dak threw nine touchdowns in three blow out wins, the passing game was nonexistent against the Saints and Dallas looked like the team from last season when Scott Linehan was the offensive coordinator.

My goodness! I thought Linehan had snuck into the game and took over the playcalling duties!

By Dallas running the ball on first and second downs repeatedly and making no gains against the Saints, it forced the offense into several three and outs and put Dallas’ defense back on the field with limited rest.

In comparison to Dallas’ previous wins, Dallas threw the ball 69 percent against the Giants and 64 percent against the Redskins respectively on first and second downs. When facing the Dolphins, Dallas threw the ball 53 percent of the time on first and second down. That explains the increase of first downs and the decrease of carries for Ezekiel Elliott during that span.

However, Dallas’ ratio of pass/run against the Saints dropped all the way to 50 percent, and it was evident in why Dallas loss a winnable game. This run-first strategy allowed the Saints to load the box and basically put Dallas’ offense in third and long for most of the game.

As a result, Dallas lost the TOP (time of possession) 23:56 to the Saints 36:04. By running the ball on first and second downs unsuccessfully, the Saints defensive backs sat on routes and stifled everything underneath.

To make matters worse, Dallas went 4-11 on third downs against the Saints 16th ranked defense, but the Saints rank low in the league against the pass!

So with Dak playing his best football in his young career, Dallas decides to go into conservative mode and run the ball time after time into a concrete wall instead of letting Dak sling it! Wow!

That conservative style of football only decreases Dallas’ chances of winning games and its easy for opposing defenses to game plan for. Further, it hurts the defense because of all of the three and outs and a tired defense will only give up points or easily allow third down conversions.

More from Dallas Cowboys

It’s a no win scenario. But that loss to the Saints had the earmarks of head coach Jason Garrett all over it. Plain and simple, I blame Garrett for that loss and not Moore because Garrett has the last say and is heavily involved in the offensive game plan.

According to Pro Football Reference, Dak has made bad throws on just 10.2 percent of his passing attempts this year, and that’s the lowest rate for any qualified quarterback in the league. With that knowledge, can someone explain why Dallas didn’t pass more on first or second downs?   

Site expert Reid Hanson writes an in depth article about Dallas throwing on first and second downs and how it benefits the offense.

dark. Next. How first down runs doomed the offense

Well, Dallas better pass the ball more because the Grinch from Green Bay will arrive Sunday at AT&T Stadium ready to kill, steal and destroy America’s Team. And if Dallas does go conservative, expect Aaron Rodgers to take full advantage of it and have a field day breaking Cowboys Nation heart.

So Coach Clapper, please let the conservative style go.

  • Published on 10/03/2019 at 12:30 PM
  • Last updated at 10/03/2019 at 06:14 AM