After two days I’m still trying to figure out what the Cowboys were doing when trying to set up for the potential game winning field goal against the Ravens. Does the blame fall on Jason Garrett or Tony Romo or maybe both of them? I saw no sense of urgency from the Cowboys offense after Dez Bryant caught the one yard pass with 20 seconds left and one timeout remaining. I saw players standing around, I saw Bryant arguing with the official. To me it seemed as though everyone was looking towards the sidelines wondering what to do next. In that situation I wish Romo would have either got the offensive unit up to the line to clock the ball or call the timeout right away instead of letting it run down to three seconds. Even if the offense didn’t have another play ready (which they should have) the smart thing would have been to rush the players to the line so that Romo could spike the ball. Then there is probably about 15 seconds left and the Cowboys still have their one timeout left. Then they could run almost any play they wanted to get Dan Bailey closer. It was poor clock management by Garrett and there are no excuses in my opinion. Garrett says that Ogletree and Austin ran vertical routes and it would have taken them longer to get back to lineup. Then that falls on Garrett for calling a horrible play with so little time left on the clock. I want Romo as the true leader of the offense, with the game situation at that time to take control and know what to do instead of looking towards the sidelines for answers from Garrett. I’m not really blaming Romo since he is only doing what the coaches tell him to. In those situations I wish Romo would just stand firm no matter what the coaches will think and quickly make a decision on his own instead of waiting for his own coach to make a decision as the clock to running down. Seriously, what’s going to happen? Does anyone believe that Garrett would bench Romo for making a quick decision like that?
It’s almost as though Garrett coaches scared sometimes. I would hope his only thought in that situation is to get his team closer for the field goal attempt and not thoughts of an offensive penalty or a sack or a turnover. As the head coach you not only have to be aware of the situation, but you also need to be aggressive and be ready. There is no time for Garrett to be learning on the job for the Cowboys. He needs to be prepared no matter what situation comes up.
“We had the one time out, so we had the ability to throw the ball inside,” Garrett said. “Tony was going to get them on the ball as quickly as he could, knowing that we had that one in our hip pocket, and try to get a play run, knowing that we could throw the ball anywhere we wanted with the timeout. It just took too long for everybody to get un-piled. It got down to the single digits, so we said ‘take it down to four seconds and bang the timeout.”
Un-piled? Where exactly did Garrett see a pile? There was never any pile after the Bryant completion.
“The urgency to get back is critical in that situation,” Garrett said. “We have to do a better job in that situation, and it starts with me.”
There was no urgency from anyone. That is the main concern. Why did it seem like everyone was looking towards the sidelines for what to do next?
“They chose to bring pressure and we got the ball out quickly to Dez,” Garrett said. “The initial thought process was try to get everyone back on the line of scrimmage as quickly as we can and, at minimum, clock the ball. And if everyone gets back quickly, we can call a play and then we’ll save the timeout for the final kick. Having said that, when you have those combinations up and you have some people running away from the line of scrimmage, it’s going to take them longer to get back. When I look at that as a coach, I say, ‘OK, I like the answers, but one of the issues is we have two receivers running vertically down the field and it’s going to take too much time for them to get back.’ So that’s my responsibility. I made that play call and I’ve got to do a better job of that.”
“You keep working on it and keep learning from it,” Garrett said. “I think we won four of five games last year in the last second or overtime, in similar-type situations, so the idea is to handle them that way every time. Those guys get paid on the other side too, and we’ve got to make sure we handle situations when we think we’re going to be able to get this. To be able to make a good play, you have to respond better. The more you put your team in that situation in practice, the more you learn from not only your game experience, but the situations that happen around the league, the better your going to get at it.”
Right now the Cowboys are 2-3 and are last in the NFC East. Next week they travel to Carolina in what can only be seen as a must win game. Falling to 2-4 will be crushing for the Cowboys with teams like the Giants, Falcons and Eagles coming up.
At this point I don’t see Garrett progressing as a head coach. Maybe he will, but how many more games will the Cowboys lose at the expense of Garrett not doing a better job when it comes to clock management. Maybe Garrett was Princeton material, but right now I don’t think he is NFL head coach material. I was going to say that I don’t believe Garrett is in any jeopardy of losing his job after this season if it ends badly, but after reading Jerry Jones latest quote I’m not so sure anymore.
“We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on in to the end of the season. We know that we’ve played one division game and won it. We’ve got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that’s going to be a big game for us. All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into — if you look at the pluses yesterday — evolving into a team that can be a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year.”
Wait, compete for the championship this year?
“Correct,” Jones responded. “Correct. Let me emphasize that. I’m not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come. It’s this year.”
Like I said in my last article, there is a common thread over the last few seasons as players and coaches continue to say they need to learn and get better. At this point I’m still waiting for that to happen and I guess so is Jerry Jones!