Taylor: Jerry Jones deserves special blame for kicking and coverage team woes
Jean-Jacques Taylor DMN
The kickoff coverage is awful. The kick return unit is subpar. And the kicker, known for his powerful right leg, is no longer Mr. Automatic when it comes to touchbacks
Here’s something else you can blame on Jerry Jones. Joe DeCamillis’ unit is struggling
The Cowboys’ atrocious special teams is as much a reason for their 1-4 start as are the penalties and mental mistakes.
Every week, you’re left wondering what special teams gaffe will keep the door open to defeat.
This is what happens when you choose to trim payroll in a season without a salary cap and with hopes of going to the Super Bowl.
Every coach in America will tell you special teams are one-third of the game. They will tell you how quickly momentum can change and wins can dissolve into losses with poor special teams.
Somewhere along the way, Jerry forgot this important lesson. Think about this: Last season, special teams were so important, the Cowboys kept two kickers.
This year, they gave the job to Buehler. There’s nothing wrong with him winning the job, but they didn’t even make him compete for it.
Last December, they signed Shawn Suisham to kick even though Buehler had been on the roster all year. Did he really improve that much in the off-season?
That’s a chunk of experience even if they weren’t players with significant roles in the offense and defense.
Now, the Cowboys are paying a hefty price.
Q: I know you’re a Wade Phillips basher like many others around the NFL, but seems to me that you’re focusing so much on him that you’re letting the players off. Yes, Wade has to bear his share of responsibility for the pathetic 1-4 record, but we both know he didn’t turn the ball over, he didn’t get any flags or miss any tackles. Vince Lombardi never made any plays, and Wade never will either. Ultimately, players have to execute when given the opportunity and that is truly the reason the Cowboys are 1-4. Guys just aren’t making plays. Quit putting all the blame on Wade.
TAYLOR: I understand your point. I really do. But it doesn’t matter whether you’re the coach of the Cowboys or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It’s up to the coach or the CEO to get the most out of his players or employees. By your standard, the coach doesn’t matter. That’s simply not true. The coach sets the direction of the team. There’s a reason why some coaches can go to different franchises and still succeed. Teams that are well-coached normally don’t make the types of gaffes the Cowboys are making. Ask yourself this simple question: Are the Cowboys playing to their potential most weeks? If the answer is no, then Wade is the problem and he’ll probably be relieved of his duties at some point.
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TAYLOR: I’d say the Cowboys. Davis has been a Pro Bowl player in the past, and he played much better last week against Minnesota. McQuistan is just a guy. He’s been thrust into the lineup because the Dolphins’ starter at right guard is injured. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over McQuistan. He had four years here and never came close to challenging for a starting job.
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Q: It occurred to me yesterday while watching the Steelers-Browns game that Flozell’s penalties this year are down dramatically over last year and he is playing a different position. Is this a case of the leopard changing his spots or does Mike Tomlin have a magic touch?
TAYLOR: Without being around the Steelers, I can’t say for sure. But I will say that as a new player on a new team, he may be focusing more because he wants to make a good impression on his new team. Mike Tomlin is considered a player’s coach, but he’s also a disciplinarian. He demands a certain level of accountability that might be making Flozell more efficient.
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Q: Are these players not capable of learning or do they just not realize the effect their boneheaded mistakes have on the outcome of a game?
TAYLOR: This team reminds me of a student who’s good enough to get into MIT or Harvard but lacks common sense. This team plays hard, and if you see the frustration in the locker room after the game, then it’s clear the losing hurts. But this team continues to make dumb decisions on the field that costs it games. Until the players decide to focus more and eliminate the dumb plays, the losing will continue.
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Q: Tony Romo’s first interception was inexcusable. He has to take the sack there. I don’t care if a block was missed or pass was tipped. You can’t throw a pick in your own end leading 7-0 on the road
TAYLOR: I don’t know that you can blame Romo when Doug Free doesn’t get off the ball and one of the best defensive ends gets a free shot at the quarterback. The ball deflected off a lineman’s helmet, leading to the interception. I don’t mind blaming Romo when it’s his fault, but I don’t think the first interception was on him.
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Q: Can Romo (who clearly lacks the “field generalship” Aikman had) get this talented team to turn it around this season?
Rick Hayes, Atlanta
TAYLOR: I don’t think there’s any shame in not having the leadership Aikman did. I mean, the dude’s a Hall of Fame player. That’s like saying Romo isn’t as good as Aikman. He’s not, but there’s no shame in being something less than a Hall of Fame player. That said, who can predict what will happen this season with Romo. It seems to me the schedule is too difficult to overcome the club’s 1-4 start. The talent to put together a lengthy run is there, but not the consistency.
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Q: Why is it that Bill Cowher is never seriously considered as the next Cowboy head coach? I think we all thought Bill Parcels and Jerry Jones was an impossible combination, but it happened – and did so without Parcels losing the autonomy he needed. Would Cowher’s demands be any different?
Mark Mumford , Hockessin, DE
TAYLOR: Cowher will probably have better options such as the New York Giants . Plus, we don’t know how inclined Jerry is to give another coach so much power and authority. Cowher would have all of the leverage, if he talked to Jerry about the job. Plus, Jerry stepped aside and let Parcells run the show for essentially four years – and it netted him the same amount of playoff victories as being heavily involved with the Chan Gailey and Dave Campo regimes – none. I don’t know that he’s inclined to give up that power again.
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Q: Why is Jason Garrett not in the hot seat?
TAYLOR: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Garrett has been scrutinized and criticized as much as Wade Phillips has been. The offense is maddeningly inconsistent. As usual, it piles up stats but not points. The Cowboys ranked third in the NFL in total offense, but only 17th in points. Until that changes and the Cowboys start winning some games, Garrett will remain on the hot seat.
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Q: Should Dallas go after Bobby Carpenter again?
Al Hart, Las Vegas
TAYLOR: I don’t think so. He’s been traded and cut twice since August. His career could be over. He has all the physical traits you would want in a player, but he lacks toughness and passion. He’s also responsible for giving up two blocked punts, one was partially blocked, in Miami’s last two games. On a team with bad special teams, I don’t know why you’d want him.