Monday, October 15, 2012

Don't Blame Dez, Blame Jason Garrett

I have gone out of my way to defend Jason Garrett for the last two seasons.  I really believed, and I still do, that he is the man for the job in Dallas.  But the botched clock management at the end of the game that forced the Cowboys into a 51 yard attempt at a field goal was all on Garrett. 

It wasn't just that the Cowboys threw a 2 yard pass to Dez Bryant instead of pushing the ball down the field a little bit with a first down and 26 seconds on the clock.  If Dez breaks the tackle there he might have gone for 20 more yards.  The problem was the play call.  Every other receiver was sent down the field on a go route.  That means that there was no contingency for the scenario that played out.  All the receivers were so far down the field that it took too long for everyone to get lined up for another play.  Why not run the ball?  The Cowboys were gashing the Ravens all game long.  And a run allows you to easily clock the ball and get another play off before the field goal.

And instead of realizing the circus act taking place after the play and calling a quick time out Jason Garrett stood there and let the clock run down and settled for a 51 yard field goal.  Now, should Dan Bailey have made the kick?  Yes.  But you can't expect your kicker to hit a game winner from 50+ yards.  Especially when you have a chance to get him closer.

I wouldn't be so mad if Jason Garrett hadn't frozen up in the same situation last season.  For those that have forgotten the Cowboys had a chance to win the game against Arizona last season in a similar situation.  Jason Garrett botched the clock management in the case as well and settled for a long field goal.  I gave him a pass then because he was inexperienced.  I can forgive a mistake once, but the same mistake a second time is unacceptable.

Now don't think I am giving Dez Bryant a pass here.  Tony Romo could not have thrown a more perfect pass on the 2 point conversion play.  The defender definitely hit Dez Bryant while the ball was in the air, but the bottom line is Dez had a perfect opportunity to catch the ball and he didn't get it done.  The sad part is that the game was shaping up to be a break out performance for Dez.  Instead, he dropped the most important pass of the day and looked like an idiot begging for a call.

It is hard to watch your team lose after they physically dominate the opponent all game long.  The offensive line manhandled the Raven's front seven.  I don't know where that performance came from but it sure was a nice change to see the Cowboys running the ball effectively all game long.  Hopefully it wasn't completely a result of terrible play be the defense.  I want to believe that the offensive line is rounding into shape but I need to see a few more performance like that one before I'll be a believer.

The defense played pretty well but they went soft when the team needed them the most.  After the Cowboys pulled within one point the defense could have really given the Cowboys a good shot to win by stopping the Ravens.  Instead they allowed a methodical drive for a touchdown and so the Cowboys were forced to scramble back from an 8 point deficit.  The defense still isn't making big plays in big spots. 

It was nice to see the offense stop screwing around at the line of scrimmage before the play for the first quarter and half.  The Cowboys were actually lining up and just running their plays.  But, as the game wore on, it turned back into a mad scramble at the line with Romo trying to give 10 players their assignment before the snap.  I don't understand why the Cowboys got away from the initial game plan because it was working just fine.  The idea of simplifying the pre-snap work for Romo was good.  For some reason Garrett abandoned that plan.

On one hand I was pleasantly surprised by the massive improvements made by the offense during the bye week.  But I'm over the morale victories.  The Cowboys need wins.   For the last 4 or 5 seasons the Cowboys play very good against the league's best teams but always just good enough to lose.  It is time to start winning those games.  Jason Garrett has his work cut out for him to win back the trust of the fan base after completely botching the end of the game.  I think I have to finally agree that Jason Garrett needs to hand the play calling duties to someone else.  He seems overwhelmed when he has to manage the game and call plays in critical situations.

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