Many in the media (local and abroad), as well as across the blogosphere, have taken a simplistic view on how Jason Garrett will retain his job following this upcoming season, stating one of two qualifiers:
He either has to make the playoffs, or he has to do better than 8 and 8.
While I understand that should he be dismissed, one (if not both) of the above probably did not happen, I believe this is taking a rather myopic approach to how a Head Coach is graded as far as their performance over an entire season.
There are quite a few issues that can occur within a season to derail a team's win/loss ratio and/or playoff chances, regardless of the job the Head Coach does. Injuries in particular, especially to key positions such as QB, could play a huge role in a losing season. Does anybody expect Weeden to take this team to a record better than 8 and 8, much less the playoffs? Lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball is the reason many within the media have already picked the Cowboys to go 8 and 8 - or worse - no matter what Garrett does.
Jerry Jones has made it clear. He wants Garrett to oversee the team as a whole, as opposed to leaning towards offense, which means that much of the defense, special teams and offense's success or failure falls on the coordinator's shoulders, in terms of play calling, and the actual players in terms of execution. Granted, Jason will likely have his hand in everything, but at the same time, if one unit out of three doesn't perform as it should, it will be difficult to just point the finger at Jason…at least for me.
This line of thinking set me to questioning the most important attributes of a Head Coach and, furthermore, how their successes and failures are measured; how do we truly determine a Head Coach's value?
Organizationally, I think most agree that the culture has improved over Garrett’s tenure. Despite the occasional low-risk / high-reward chances taken on less-than-RKG material players, for the most part, he has placed an emphasis on filling the locker room with guys who have Team Captain on their resume, a high level of passion for the game of football, willingness to put in work both on and off the field, and for the betterment of the team, men who support each other in that ambition. Or, at least, so it seems. And just so there is no further confusion, RKG doesn't mean country-club-membership-touting boy scout/choirboy who spends his time off looking for opportunities to help old ladies across the street.
While I am certainly guilty of yelling at the television for certain plays called in situations where Garrett has in the past tried to be, in my opinion, so clever he out-smarts himself, the offense, especially these past two seasons, has not been the issue that has handcuffed this team to mediocrity. I am not attempting to dismiss blame from Garrett for how the Special Teams and Defense has performed; I am simply stating that the X’s and O’s of this game have not been his issue and, therefore, likely are not going to be the reason Garrett is dismissed following this next season.
Obviously, Wade's team made it easy to see that it was time for him to be replaced...they quit. But I really can't say that I've seen that level of quit since Wade left. For the most part, this team has battled, losing by seven points or less the majority of the time since Garrett took over for Wade in 2010.
Garrett lost 3 games,
all of which were by 3 points or less:
Saints by 3
Eagles by 3
Cardinals by 1
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 7 points or less:
Ravens by 3
Giants by 5
Falcons by 6
Redskins by 7
Saints by 3
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 6 points or less:
Jets by 3
Lions by 4
Patriots by 4
Cardinals by 6
Giants by 3
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 3 points or less:
Chiefs by 1
Broncos by 3
Lions by 1
Packers by 1
Eagles by 2
My hypothesis is that based on the above information, we can infer his team has not quit on him and have fought to the end. Granted, a few of those losses were situations where teams came back to win, such as the Chiefs, Packers and the Lions from last year, but I do not believe that was a result of the team quitting.
Admittedly, I still hold Jason responsible for those losses because I honestly believe play calling and in-game management had more to do with it than anything. However, with Marinelli, Linehan, and Bissacia calling the shots for the most part as far as play calling, we should see improvement on the in-game management this season because that will be the only aspect of the game Garrett should be directly responsible for...and even with that, I'm sure Callahan will be backing him up.
So with this host of proven talented coaches behind Garrett in 2014, what can we, the fans truly look at to say one way or another if Garrett did a good job or a bad job?
For me, Garrett's ultimate measuring stick will come when this team experiences those "defecation hits the oscillation" situations.
When things go wrong, how does he, his subordinate coaches and, more importantly, his players handle it? Will they continue to fight or will they roll over and submit? If and when injuries occur, will the next man up be ready? I don't expect said player to completely replace his predecessor; but I do expect him at the very least to know his role, his assignments and execute to the best of his ability. When the football takes an unlucky bounce, how does the team respond? With a fight to get the ball back, or do they allow the momentum of the game to be sucked away?
Obviously, these things are the intangibles that are often times hard to measure and can be subjective from one viewer to another, but still, I believe the people within the organization will know. And that's what I think Jerry Jones will be looking at come season end, with or without the playoffs or a record better than 8 and 8.
Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?
Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.
It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.
Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.
Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.
This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.
Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.
Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."
Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.
It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.
Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.
Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC
2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.
Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.
The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.
Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.
The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.
For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.
Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.
For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.
Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?
Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival
Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.
Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.
Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.
T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.
Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.
Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.
Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.
Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lo más importante de este partido...
Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.
Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.
Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.
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