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Week 6 Cowboys-Ravens

October 16, 2012


Is it Romo’s fault that the passing game this year is struggling? Is it Dez Bryant and the receivers fault with their misreads and drops that’s making the passing game fail so regularly? Or is it neither of those and is Jason Garrett as a head coach in over his head and unable to handle both the offensive coordinator and head coach responsibilities resulting in a passing game that is inefficient and plagued with penalties? Who really is at fault for this season’s embarrassing offensive numbers? Well fans will have to wait another week to find the answer to that question as the Cowboys decided to abandon the passing game almost entirely and just run the ball down the Ravens throat Sunday. That was the opener I wrote for my article early in the 2nd quarter as the Cowboys were looking so dominant that it looked like a foregone conclusion that this game would end as a win. Yet I was wrong. It took a 108 yard kickoff return for a TD (NFL record), countless penalties (will discuss in detail later), a huge drop by Kevin Ogletree on a would be touchdown pass, a huge drop by Dez Bryant on a would be two point conversion, a disastrous clock management situation at the end of the game, and a missed 51 yd field goal yet somehow the Cowboys lost this game. Some will tell you that this actually was a pretty good game for the Cowboys as they went into Baltimore where the Ravens had won 14 straight home games and looked like the better team. Yet those people don’t understand how thin the line between winning and losing is in the NFL and don’t understand how this Cowboys team under Garrett is consistently on the wrong side of that line. This is a team that loves to play just well enough to win or just poorly enough to lose and seems completely unable to convincingly beat a quality opponent. In 29 games under Jason Garrett he is 15-14 and the only 3 games in which he’s led the Cowboys to a +10 pt victory are against the Rams, the Bills, and the Buccaneers. The Cowboys are one of the 10 most talented teams in the NFL yet they just don’t play that way and I think it looks more and more as if it’s Garrett’s fault. The Cowboys are 3-7 in their past 10 games under Garrett and the penalties are getting worse every week. Whether it was the 2 illegal shifts, the two Tyron Smith holding penalties, the two offsides on the defense, the three false starts, the 12 men on the field, the illegal hands to the face on the defense, the Felix Jones chop block (phantom call), or the pass interference on the defense it all added up to another undisciplined performance under “red Jesus.” While I understand the person who says it’s the players on the field messing up not Garrett it’s hard not to see all of the missed assignments, inability to line up in the correct position, and constant risk of a delay of game penalty on almost every snap and make me come to the conclusion that it’s time to move on from Garrett. He is clearly in over his head with both the head coaching and offensive coordinator responsibilities and the Cowboys can’t afford to give him any more time to improve. I’ve made my mind up: Jason Garrett is the biggest issue with the Cowboys and he needs to be fired.


Below are additional game notes:

Sean Lee as a white 240 lb guy with little muscle tone doesn’t look very physical but Sunday he showed he has very underrated strength as he had an outstanding inside blitz blowing up Ray Rice for an incompletion and a punt. He’s good in coverage, has elite playmaking skills, and has very underrated strength. If the Cowboys have a good record this season he will surely be in the Pro Bowl.

Haloti Ngata is playing injured. He at one point was blocked in the hole by TE John Phillips. When your backup 270 lb TE is easily blocking the 350 lb NT who has a reputation as the best run stuffer in the NFL then there clearly is something wrong. I noticed it all game and then the announcers mentioned something at one point about a hamstring injury never fully healing. Not sure it it’s that but it’s something as he’s their best defensive player, not Reed or Lewis, and with him at 50%, Lewis out for the year due to a torn pectoral muscle, Suggs out, and Webb likely gone for the year due to an ACL tear I expect bad things from them going forward defensively.

Tony Romo needs to cut down on the turnovers. I know that’s as obvious as it can get but when you see stats like how the Ravens game was the 6th straight game Romo had an interception it hits home how much he has struggled lately. Turnover differential is one of the best indicators of success or failure and Romo needs to stop trying to be the hero as he’s putting his team in too many difficult situations.

Jason Witten is officially back. In game 1 he was invisible, in game 2-4 he had some huge drops, yet in game 5 he looked like the Witten of old with an incredible catch on a low ball for a 1st down as one of his 6 catches for 88 yards. In the past two games Witten has 19 catches for 200 yards which is 1st among TEs in both categories during that span. No one was harder on Witten for those drops than himself and I’m not surprised to see that he’s come out stronger than ever in response to all of those critics who were whispering that he might have lost a step or was playing injured. It’s good to see Witten back.

Kevin Ogletree towards the end of the game dropped a perfectly thrown pass for a would be touchdown. It’s at least the 5th would be TD pass dropped by Romo’s receivers (3 by Witten, 1 Ogletree, 1 Bryant) and is something to remember when looking at Romo’s QB Rating of 82.1. It’s a very mediocre rating and puts him in the bottom half (20th) of starting quarterbacks in that statistic. Yet if even half of those catchable balls had been completed his QB Rating would be in the 90’s where it usually is and the Cowboys likely would be 3-2 instead of 2-3.

Dan Bailey needs to become more clutch. He’s only missed 6 kicks in his career (1st miss of this season) and his career stat of 87% accuracy is borderline elite (90% is elite in most scouts’ eyes) yet he’s had some huge misses. He missed the 51 yd game winning FG Sunday, he had the game tying 47 FG against the Giants last year in Cowboys stadium blocked, and he missed the game winning 49 yd FG against the Cardinals last year when Garrett accidentally iced him. It’s clearly a pattern as all the kicks are 47 yards or farther and all of them have been for the tie or lead. The only kick I can remember of his that was clutch that he made was last year against San Francisco to force overtime and again was a deep one at 48 yards. Some might think this is just how the dice falls as any kick beyond 40 yards is a bit of a crap shoot yet that is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Kickers are bigger, stronger, and more accurate every year and kicks in the high 40’s and even low 50’s are becoming routine. Just this weekend the Lions made a 45 yd, the Falcons a 55 yd, and the Cardinals two 49 yd AND a 61 yd to tie or win the game so a 51 yd is very makeable in the NFL today. The Cowboys have gone with a young kicker for over a decade, outside of the failed Mike Vanderjagt experiment, yet it might be time to change that strategy as it’s failing the Cowboys at the worst possible times.

The final play of the game was one of the worst time management plays I’ve ever seen. With 21 seconds left and 1 timeout Dez Bryant was tackled yet somehow the Cowboys were unable to call another play and were forced to call a timeout and kick a 51 yd FG for the game. I would say the majority of the blame was on Garrett as he was on the sideline and could see everything occurring at once in front of him. When Dez got up and began to argue with an official (dumb play by him by the way) instead of lining up he should have called it then which would have left 15-17 seconds to run one more play and get up to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball to make it a more manageable kick. Yet Romo deserves part of the blame as at about 11 seconds he realized they weren’t going to get a play off and instead of calling a timeout and deciding whether to run another play or just kick he simply walked off the field in disgust. First off that is a terrible way to act as a leader and Romo’s poor body language has been well documented over the years. Second off he had the ability to call a timeout then as well yet instead chose to make a statement which shows just how fed up with Garrett I think he is. When he walked off the field he looked right at Garrett and said “good job” in a sarcastic manner to him. That’s about as anti-team as you’ll ever see from Tony who has been nothing short of a professional in his dealings with some very difficult teammates. He never had a bad thing to say about T.O. during his stay in Dallas, he never threw Roy Williams under the bus despite rarely getting open yet regularly complaining about his lack of targets, and even after Dez dropped the 2 point conversion last Sunday he was the first to support his embattled receiver. Romo doesn’t say negative things about teammates so it’s telling how angry and frustrated he was when coming off the field in the final seconds.

Final thought: Did anyone think the field goal was going to go in when Dallas lined up for that 51 yard field goal? I’m just curious because it was a very makeable kick yet I wasn’t surprised at all when it went wide left. I’m not sure if it was too close to having watched Dez drop the 2 point conversion, whether my historic ties to the Cowboys and their recent ineptness has made me a jaded fan, or whether in my heart I just didn’t trust Dan Bailey to come through. I don’t know but I found it interesting how I watched the kick go wide left, turned the channel, and completely erased it from my mind. I knew it was coming and I knew the Cowboys were going to in the end find a way to lose this game. Just the fact that I had that mindset is all you need to know of why I think the Cowboys need to fire Jason Garrett. The Cowboys are becoming the loveable loser.

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  1. joe caseu permalink

    I wasn’t suprised either. I think it has to do with being consistently if not always let down by the cowboys. It may also be due to my firm belief that my Aggies and Cowboys DO NOT win on the same weekend period. In fact, like you I wasn’t even upset. I expected it, watched it to the end, and moved on. Life is to short to believe in this team. I wonder what it must be like to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan….. I hate them.

    • I just hope the Cardinals don’t win the World Series so I don’t have to hear any talk about them being a dynasty. Luckiest franchise ever.

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