The Dallas Cowboys' Head Coach Jason Garrett was under fire all week-long after his passive decision to NOT go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Houston Texans 42 yard line in overtime last week. Instead of taking a shot with a really good offensive line and one of the best running backs in the NFL, Garrett opted to punt the ball to a Texans offense that the Cowboys defense struggled to stop -- until it got inside the five yard line that is.
Well, in typical Jason Garrett fashion, in a game in which they were leading from start to finish en route to a 40-7 victory -- that was never really that close -- the Dallas Cowboys' head coach kept the offense on the field on two 4th and 1 occasions. Converting both of them.
The head coach and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys organization may feel vindicated in pulling the trigger in situations that the Dallas Cowboys have been almost automatic in converting since the start of 2016. The reality is there was nothing at risk in the point of the game in which Garrett opted to try to convert the fourth down.
Though they converted on both 4th-and-1 attempts, they were nothing more than hollow victories for the much maligned head coach.
Their first 4th and 1 attempt was late in the first half of the game with the Dallas Cowboys already leading 17-0. They were driving with under two minutes to play in the half at the Jacksonville Jaguars 37 yard line. The Jaguars had only crossed midfield once and hadn't sniffed any scoring opportunities. There was little risked at that point in the game. If you miss on the conversion, the Jaguars would have to pick up at least 26 yards to get into field goal range. At that point in the game the Jacksonville had only picked up two first downs. The Jaguars had only averaged 13 yards per drive on their four first half drives to that point and three of those drives went three and out.
You can make a case that if the Dallas Cowboys missed on this opportunity and the Jaguars took the ensuing possession and scored, it could have had an impact on the outcome of the game. But with the way that the defense completely dominated the Jaguars in the first half, there was little chance of them driving the length of the field to score a touchdown with under a minute to play.
The next time the Dallas Cowboys went for it on 4th and 1 was with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys up 37-7. The game at this point was already decided.
Unlike the week before.
Tony Romo said it best during the broadcast. He talked about the leeway Garrett would have gotten from Jerry Jones had the Dallas Cowboys gone for it on 4th-and-1 against the Texans and missed because Jones is a risk taker (paraphrasing). Now, I know Garrett has been known to take a chance or two at times, think of the Chris Jones fake punts, but there are situations in football that aren't that big of a risk. When you're in opponent territory and have the run game that the Cowboys have, picking up 4th-and-1 is about as sure a thing as you'll find in the NFL. Since 2016, the Dallas Cowboys had gone 18 for 19 on 4th-and-1 situations. Even if they don't make it, the opponent still has to pick up a 2-3 first downs to have a shot at winning the game.
Don't be fooled by what Garrett did on Sunday. He wasn't being aggressive. He wasn't taking the fight to an opponent who was still in the game. He was kicking a team while it was down. The Jaguars had zero answers for the Cowboys on either side of the football. The Cowboys wouldn't have lost the football game if they missed on either of those two opportunities.
If anything, Garrett was just being petty about all the criticism he took this week for declining his offense the chance to keep the ball week five. I've always been a Garrett believer because of the way he gets his teams mentally prepared to play. They rarely have bad games and typically when their backs are against the wall, they respond. On 4th and 1 against the Texans a week ago, their backs were against the wall as a team and he didn't give them the opportunity to respond. Had Garrett had faith in his defense, he would have gone for it because he would have believed in their ability to prevent the Texans from getting into field goal range. He showed a lack of faith in both sides of the ball by not giving the offense a chance to convert and by trying to help the defense with better field position.
I don't believe for a second that Jason Garrett changed his philosophy on those types of calls and I fully expect us to be rather frustrated by another conservative call in the future. Like I said before, these two 4th-and-1 conversions meant nothing in how the game was going to play out. Is it possible that Jerry Jones got in Garrett's ear about taking those kinds of chances to win the game? Absolutely. If we see a similar situation come in the future and Garrett goes for it, perhaps there was a change, but change is a difficult thing. Most humans do not like change and most people don't change.
I hope I'm wrong and this marked a change in the approach of Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. With their offensive line and the running ability of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, I don't care if they only convert half of those opportunities, those two are too good with the ball in their hands to not go for it.
Hopefully Jason Garrett realizes that running those two are his best avenue to winning football games and is aggressive on future 4th-and-1 situations. Since I like my life, I'm not going to hold my breath.
The Brady Report: Cowboys Offense Dominant Despite Slow Start
The Dallas Cowboys followed up their dominant performance last week with yet another blowout divisional win on Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 31-21.
While the Cowboys controlled the game for much of the last three quarters, they actually got off to a slow start in Washington. Once again they fell behind to a lesser team 7-0 early, before scoring on nearly every possession to finish off the game.
Let's get into my game notes from the Cowboys' week two win.
- We have to start these game notes by talking about Dak Prescott. The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible for the second straight week to open this season. Despite the early interception, Prescott continued to look poised and calm in the pocket, allowing him to deliver a dime to Devin Smith for the team's first touchdown. Prescott was picking apart the Redskins secondary during the final three quarters to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he was very effective as a runner, including his dynamic 42 yard run on third down and one with the game still tied. If Dak is going to play like this, the Cowboys can beat anyone.
- Ezekiel Elliott looked a lot more comfortable Sunday than he did against the Giants. Not only were his raw numbers better, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, he was back to his ways of falling forward and avoiding the first tackler. He still didn't really explode the way we all know he can, which means opposing defenses should be scared when considering what the Cowboys offense's full potential could be.
- Which receiver didn't ball out Sunday? Michael Gallup seems to be developing an awesome rapport with Prescott, Amari Cooper continues to prove he's a legit WR1, Randall Cobb was once again effective on swing passes and in the slot, and even Devin Smith had himself a monster game. If Devin Smith is going to be the speed deep threat he was against Washington, look out.
- Ok, now that I've congratulated the majority of the offense, let's talk about the one guy who I'm sure would've liked to have a better day. Left guard Connor Williams. The second year guard was solid overall Sunday, but was abused by Daron Payne from time to time. Most notably, Payne went right through Williams both to force Prescott's interception and on the only sack of the game. Williams has to be better going forward, because he is the clear weak link across this dynamic offensive line right now. Luckily, as a whole, this line has been very good through two games.
- Defensively, things could've gone better for the Cowboys. While a lot of the production through the air came through garbage time, Terry McLaurin was still too effective down the field. Chris Thompson was also getting too much YAC against these defenders. Anthony Brown had a rough day in the slot, missing multiple tackles and not being too great in coverage either. Jourdan Lewis, however, did have himself a good game in limited snaps. Both he and Byron Jones made impressive open field tackles on third downs.
- The Cowboys run defense stepped up from a week ago. The tackling of their front seven overall improved as the game went on, and they held Adrian Peterson to just 25 yards on the ground. Part of this was because of how quickly the Cowboys got to their 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but they were solid nonetheless.
- Dallas' pass rush will benefit greatly from Robert Quinn's return next week against Miami. DeMarcus Lawrence created a couple big pressures on Sunday, but Quinn's presence should help free him up a bit to create more of a consistent pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 2 Against the Redskins
It's still a bit early in the 2019 season, but the Dallas Cowboys ability to go into hostile territory and come away with a victory against the Washington Redskins is a big win. Not only does America's Team remain undefeated to start the season, but they also now sit atop the NFC East in sole possession of the division.
The Dallas Cowboys again got off to a slow start Sunday afternoon against the Redskins but showed their resiliency by continuing to battle throughout the game. I expected a slobber knocker type of game considering the way these two teams battle it out every time they square off against one another and they certainly didn't disappoint. However, it was the Cowboys who prevailed in the end with the 31-21 victory.
But enough with the rehashing of yet another impressive Cowboys win. Let's get to the point of this article and dive into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly this week from the Week 2 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
I really wanted to go with Wide Receiver Devin Smith here this week because he had an impressive game against the Washington Redskins and ended up leading the team in receiving yards (74 yards, 1 TD), but I'm just going to give him a shout out instead. I think the good deservedly goes to Quarterback Dak Prescott. He continues to show he has taken the next step in his development, which is making the Dallas Cowboys offense one of the more lethal units in the NFL.
It may have taken a little while for the Cowboys offense to get going, but when it did it was because Prescott took charge. Once again he looked really good in the passing game, completing 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. His efficiency throwing the ball was awfully impressive, but so was his five rushes for 69 yards on the ground. His only little blemish on the day was the unfortunate interception that just so happened to bounce the right way for the Redskins. Overall though, Dak handled more than his share Sunday and did it really well.
Deciding what to put in this category each week is never an easy task. I absolutely hate singling out a single person, but this week I'm going to have to point my finger at Left Guard Connor Williams. He's my nomination for the bad this week due to the penalties he had at the most inopportune times. Last week Zack Martin did the same thing against the Giants and rebounded. Hopefully, Williams can do the same.
Although I put Williams in the section, I think the penalties the Dallas Cowboys piled up throughout the game against the Redskins probably deserve more attention than I'm giving them. It was a sloppy game from start to finish due to the amount of yellow flags flying Sunday afternoon, but it's kind of to be expected considering they are playing a divisional opponent and how early it still is in the 2019 season. Let's just hope the amount of laundry flying from now on is minimal to none.
For the second week in a row the Dallas Cowboys defense has failed to live up to the expectations many of us have had for them entering the 2019 season. For that reason alone I think they were the ugly from Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins. They really need to step up their game if they want to live up to the aspirations that we not only all have for them, but they have for themselves.
I honestly don't think the Redskins offense is all that much better than the Giants, who the Cowboys made look better than they truly are last week. I think they did the same thing in this Week 2 matchup as well. They are really struggling to bottle up the running game like they did last year. They're also giving too much cushion in the passing game and have allowed too many easy completions underneath. Hopefully they can bounce back next week against the Miami Dolphins, but if not we should all be really concerned.
What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly from the Cowboys victory over the Redskins?
DAL 31, WAS 21: Dak Prescott Dominant In Comfortable Win
Fourth year quarterback Dak Prescott is up for a new contract t this offseason, and he's playing like he knows it.
After putting up a perfect passer rating in the Cowboys' season opening win, he was once again excellent today. Prescott threw for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also ran for 69 yards on 5 attempts to lead the Cowboys to their 31-21 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Prescott spread the ball around to a multitude of different targets. Tight end Jason Witten caught his second touchdown of the year, Amari Cooper had yet another touchdown as well, Michael Gallup went for 68 yards on 6 catches, and even Devin Smith had a huge day to lead the team in receiving. Ezekiel Elliott eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark for the first time this season, and got himself a rushing touchdown as well to seal the deal.
Defensively, the Cowboys were not as impressive. While the final statistics are skewed due to garbage time yards and scoring, this defense felt like they were on their heels the entire afternoon. DeMarcus Lawrence came up with a couple big pressures, but outside of Tyrone Crawford's first half sack the Cowboys didn't create many problems for Redskins quarterback Case Keenum.
This defense will need to tighten up if they are to contend with the elite offenses they'll have to face around the NFC going forward.
Dallas is now 2-0 on the season, with both wins coming over division opponents. Of course, they've dominated the two worst teams in the division, and both match-ups with the Philadelphia Eagles still loom large later in this season.
Regardless, the Cowboys are off to an excellent start to their 2019 campaign, and get to come home to play the lowly Miami Dolphins next Sunday.
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