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When you have a 23 point lead at the half, time is really your only enemy. Just don’t give your opponent enough time to get back into the game. And what takes up minutes and minutes of precious time? Why, running plays of course.
But in the largest display of game mismanagement that I have personally ever witnessed, Jason Garrett, Bill Callahan and Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys flat out refused to run the football. The second half of that game was like trying to watch somebody drink beer with a fork.
It just boggles my mind. In the second half of Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys ran the ball seven times . . . seven times! I’ve read a lot of stories this morning focusing on Romo’s late fourth quarter meltdown. The game should have never been close by the fourth quarter, and Romo shouldn’t have been throwing in the first place. Don’t be fooled; this whole fiasco started at the beginning of the third quarter. From the beginning of the second half, Garrett and company made the conscious decision to all but completely abandon a running attack that was averaging 7.4 yards a carry. You don’t even have to worry about third down when you average 7.4 yards a carry. And even if the running game had been completely stymied by the Packers in the second half, the running attempts alone would have taken enough time off the clock to ensure a win. But the Cowboys’ leadership decided to go another way, and there is no conceivable excuse for it. A pee wee league football coach would have known better.
What we all witnessed on Sunday was akin to a NASCAR driver, who was easily winning a race, suddenly deciding to try and complete the race by driving in reverse for the rest of the day. Sure, there’s a possibility that the guy is good enough to still win that race, but who in their right mind would possibly be arrogant and stupid enough to try such a move? The Cowboys were.
The Cowboys have the worst defense in the NFL, and possibly the worst defense statistically in franchise history. With that knowledge, most rational, sane people would be expecting the defense to eventually fold and give up several touchdowns. Therefore, the best possible course of action would be to attempt to limit the amount of time that the opposing offense has the ball. But Jason Garrett disagrees with that philosophy. He thinks it’s better to take up 20 seconds of clock time with three botched pass plays and then punt instead of eating up almost three minutes of time with run plays instead.
What we learned Sunday (and what I truly hope that Jerry Jones learned as well) is devastating for the Cowboys: Jason Garrett is either completely lacking in his ability to manage a football game, or he is completely lacking in his ability to control his personnel (both coaches and players alike). Either choice is pretty much tells you that he should not be a head coach in the National Football League. For years we have been told how smart Garrett is, but apparently they don’t teach run offense at Princeton.
If Tony Romo spent the entire second half checking off run plays, all Garrett had to do was say “You’re letting them back into this game with all the pass plays. If you check off another run call, you’re on the bench.” Boom – problem solved.
If Bill Callahan spent the entire second half calling pass plays, all Garrett had to do was change the plays himself since he is now the person who feeds the plays to Romo. Boom – problem solved.
And even if both Romo and Callahan seemingly conspired against Garrett’s wishes, you don’t throw those guys under the bus at your press conference. You take the blame because you are the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, albeit not an effective one. Garrett’s post game press conference showed me a pretty big character flaw. I guess they don’t teach leadership at Princeton either.
I have tried my hardest to buy into the Garrett mentality of focusing on one small thing at a time one day at a time to get better. But at this point, we have to be honest with each other: The Garrett mentality doesn’t win football games. Not enough of them to matter anyway. I know that I’m just one fan, but he’s lost me. I’m off the Garrett bus.
On Sunday it became obvious to all that the fundamental flaws in basic football logic are so great in Dallas that a major housecleaning is in order. Offensive and defensive coordinators, head coach (and dare I dream GM) just need to go. I would rather the Cowboys completely suck for a few years and rebuild than continually beat themselves with their own stupidity.
That game was like watching someone try to solve a basic math problem by using adjectives. “Six times five is . . . uh . . . creamy!! . . . No wait . . . shiny! . . . Damn it. . . No, six times six equals blue!”