Fans have been quick to blame Jason Garrett and eager to defend Kris Richard during the Dallas Cowboys 3-game losing streak but it’s clear Richard is part of the problem
Cowboys Nation has been quick to condemn head coach Jason Garrett and Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, but remains oddly apologetic to Kellen Moore and Kris Richard. Are we giving our favorite assistant coaches a undeserved hall pass in this 3-game dumpster fire?
It’s impossible to state with any certainty how the division of blame should be slotted amongst the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. We know the head coach is responsible for all and we know Jason Garrett’s track record of disappointment. He’s easy to blame. But it’s the other coaches where the opinions of Cowboys Nation differ.
When everything was going great Kellen Moore received the bulk of the credit. When the losing began, Jason Garrett got the bulk of the blame. Fair? Probably not. But there are legitimate reasons Moore has been spared the sword of public opinion.
Moore’s presence was easy to see on Day 1 of Training Camp. The changes he made to the Dallas Cowboys’ offense (formations, personnel, pre-snap motion, and aggressive 2nd down play-calling) were easy to spot and instantly successful.
When the Dallas Cowboys offense started floundering we didn’t blame him and his changes because the offense visibly reverted back to previous times. The idea that Jason Garrett meddled with a good thing has merit. Garrett was possibly worried about the mounting injuries and increased quality of opponent and asked for a more conservative approach. We don’t know this, of course, but it’s a reasonable conclusion to the night and day game plan we’ve seen these first six games.
As the passing game coordinator, defensive backs coach, and defensive play-caller, Kris Richard typically gets the bulk of the blame/credit for the Cowboys coverage. Rod Marinelli typically faces the blame/credit for the performance of the defensive line.
While it’s easy to see via broadcast the front-seven’s underperformance play after play, assessing the play of the secondary isn’t quite so easy. Unless you’re watching the All-22, you really don’t know how the coverage looks play to play.
Well, I have news for you – It looks kinda bad.
Not only are the penalties mounting in coverage, but their performance is declining and the roles they’re asked to play makes them vulnerable.
This doesn’t mean Kris Richard is THE problem. Nor does it mean he needs to go. It just means we need to accept that he has as many warts as the rest of the Dallas Cowboys coaches
And for some reason, Coach Richard has been hesitant to elevate fan-favorite Jourdan Lewis into the top-4. The diminutive ball-hawk doesn’t fit his size and length preferences and has been stuck behind the struggling Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown for the past two seasons. Only injuries and Alvin Kamara seem to get him on the field.
Richard’s disinterest in talented defensive backs who don’t fit his length preferences are well-documented and played a part in his push to endorse Trysten Hill as the top draft pick rather than DBs like Juan Thornhill (who’s already Pro Football Focus’ 26th ranked safety). Jerry Jones may not have listened to him anyway but it’s odd he wasn’t banging the table for one of the many available DBs that day.
Kris Richard came to Dallas to install a single-high scheme much like the one he ran in Seattle. But the single-high has been a problem and the Cowboys often alternate between this and a version of Tampa 2 (which is also a Cover 3) as the primary schemes. The result of this simple defensive approach is a transparent defense that’s fairly easy to attack
"“They just did what they do. They do it every single week. They just play one-high, occasionally two high, and they like to stop the run. I knew that I had to throw the ball today to have success, and we did that.”"
So while it’s hard to know how much blame should fall on Marinelli and how much should fall on Richard, we know it’s the coverage scheme that’s being called out as simplistic. So even if the players improve their play in coverage, it’s still comically transparent to the point a second year QB on a previously winless team can carve them up with ease.
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It’s also worth noting, once the Legion of Boom declined to non-elite levels of execution, and once offenses seemingly figured out the weakness of the single-high, Kris Richard was fired. It’s also worth pointing out, in Pete Carroll’s long tenure, Richard is the first coordinator he ever fired.
This doesn’t mean Kris Richard is THE problem. Nor does it mean he needs to go. It just means we need to accept that he has as many warts as the rest of the Dallas Cowboys coaches and we shouldn’t offer him a pass just because he’s so dang likeable and passionate.
The way things look now is this Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is collectively underperforming. If anyone gets the benefit of the doubt it should probably be Kellen Moore, but even he deserves scrutiny as the play-caller who’s deploying Zeke far too often on first down (something he did even during the first 3 games).
Kris Richard, like most of the other coaches, deserves his fair share of the blame. His scheme, play-calling, and player evaluation may play a bigger role in this team’s underachievement than we’re willing to admit.
- Published on 10/20/2019 at 12:53 PM
- Last updated at 10/21/2019 at 01:58 AM