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Did Garrett’s OT Decision Cost Him More Than Just the Game?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Jerry Jones: Holding a Fan-base Hostage 2

Jason Garrett's decision to punt rather than go for it on 4th-and-1 last night is drawing heavy criticism today. The overtime loss to the Houston Texans has put the Cowboys head coach in the crosshairs perhaps more than ever before, and even his owner and quarterback have had their say.

We've broken down Garrett's decision plenty already. You can click here for Kevin Brady's statistical analysis of the move, or here for my opinion of Jason's choice and the Cowboys' current overall direction.

Now, let's look at what Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott have had to say about the head coach's decision. What do these comments tells us about Garrett's support and job security as of today?

First, courtesy of CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson, here's what Jason himself said about his choice:

"Yeah, it was a long one," he said after the game. "You know, we had a 3rd-and-2 and we didn't make much on it and we just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there."

Again, you can check out my article earlier today for what I think of Garrett's logic there. While there's some merit to what he said about the issues with the running game yesterday, the situation was just the wrong time to stop trusting your best players.

In overtime, in opposing territory, it wasn't a time to shy away from risk. We've seen Jason make aggressive calls before, but last night he shrunk back.

His boss didn't agree.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

Cowboys Jerry Jones on Garrett not going for it on 4th-&-1: 'Not second-guessing, But ... We just were being outplayed. It's time for risk at that particular time.'

Sorry Jerry, but that IS second-guessing.

The Cowboys' owner and general manager was right to do so. Most onlookers, both fans and professionals, criticized the move at the time and certainly have in hindsight.

During his post-game comments with media, QB Dak Prescott was asked if he'd have gone for it:

"Yeah, I mean, I would but in that case you don't question the coach's decision..."

Sorry Dak, but you just did.

The three most important professional relationships for any NFL head coach are with his owner, general manager, and his starting quarterback. In the Cowboys organization, 2/3 of that is Jerry Jones and some combination of Stephen Jones and Will McClay.

We know Garrett has a strong bond with the front office, but this is now his eighth full season as the team's head coach. The goodwill built from the playoffs runs in 2014 and 2016 is wearing off quickly.

Jason hasn't been able to help a lot of the team's problems during his tenure. He inherited a bad cap situation. If anything, keeping the team at 8-8 during those early rebuilding years was impressive.

Garrett also didn't have anything to do with major injuries or suspensions to key players. Dallas has had their fair share of these problems since 2011.

But last night, the head coach made the call. He didn't put faith in his star running back, All-Pro offensive linemen, or his starting QB to go make a 4th-and-1 play. He went conservative.

Some would even argue he went scared.

Michael Lombardi Misses The Point With Unfair Jason Garrett Criticism

Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and Head Coach Jason Garrett

When a coach is close to being fired, you'll start hearing stuff like "players have tuned him out" or "he's lost the locker room." I don't think we're there yet with Jason Garrett.

But last night didn't help on any level. Jason made the wrong move and has been called out, however politely, by both his owner and his starting QB for it.

Those decisions having last effects. Players remember when a coach didn't put faith in them. You could argue that he did put faith in the defense, but even some of them are likely disappointed in his choice.

Don't get me wrong; I like Jason. He seems like a genuinely good person and a great leader. But too often, and for too long, we've seen him make the wrong move with football strategy. We've seen him waver too much between conservative and aggressive, and many times leaning the wrong way.

No matter what else happens this year, I don't think Jerry would fire Garrett in the middle of the season. He's not handing the job to proven head-coaching failures like Scott Linehan or Rod Marinelli, and Kris Richard isn't vaulting from a position coach to the big chair.

But with the team seeming to regress from its 2016 success, Jason's methods and leadership are rightfully questioned. And if Jerry and Dak's comments are any indication, he may be starting to lose the support of his most important allies.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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13 Comments
  • Ervinlang318

    That Overtime sums up the first 5 games of the season. Fear and Basics. Fear
    being not going for it on 4th and 1 due to Garretts fear of Gambling and Basics
    being Tackling and Playcalling. Receivers catching,

  • dallas4life65

    Here’s to a new coach next year!! Now if we could only fire the GM

    • Harold Ellerbee

      Some how I don’t think we will need to,I think Jerry is grtting the message…

  • Harold Ellerbee

    Way to go Jacson I would rather of tried and lost than punted…think about it our punter is not that great…I think we need a full time punter who does nothing but punt….some one who can pen other teams inside the 5.
    How about more beef on that O.F. line with out T.F.we can’t move other lines…like it or not it takes two people to re place T.F.

    • wandszy

      Our punter isn’t that great?!? Granted, he hasn’t been as good this year but he has been among the top 5 punters in the league the last 2 years. That’s definitely not the reason for going for it.

      • Brett Herman

        The problem here and your right the Punter was not the problem they were pinned at the 10 yard line so what more can you ask for there like 5 yards was going to make a big difference here, we had a band don’t break game on defense while Houston was not scoring TD’s they were moving the ball and getting into FG range and that was all they needed here. The defense had to be getting gassed they were out there a long time all night now into an extra quarter.

        You have to gamble there on 4th and 1 but we also need more firepower at receiver and sadly there does not seem to be any help coming anytime soon.

  • Harold Ellerbee

    Ok the crap is over time to get back to work…as my old buddy John M….would say…shake it off…get back on the field we got another game next week…go Cow boys…

  • Steve

    Garrett should’ve been gone a year ago while the offense has struggled and every Owner, Coach, Player, Fan knows that every team that has a Young/Strong/Nucleus of talent that there is a window of opportunity that you HAVE to take advantage of and be pro-active and push the envelope if you will…. NOT play safe and predictable! Its absolutely insane to me that BIG D’s offense has grown to be so stagnant and can’t simply move the ball and for Garrett to set by and watch and not try to get 1 yard behind that O-Line and the leagues leading rusher! I mean yeah we aren’t the same without Fredrick, but 1 YARD!!! REALLY??? I believe Jerry should watch and if this talented/physical playing team continues to play sloppy(penalties)an without urgency and have no drive (especially the offense) before Garrett totally loses the locker room if he hasn’t already and I believe the ONLY reason he wont totally is that Richard will maintain the defense and have them ready! Which the only thing I disagree with you is that I do believe that Richard is ready and should be the Dallas Cowboys HC and will be in the near future!

  • Michael Barthel

    Garrett is a terrible coach!! He has done nothing for us in 8 years!!! Our biggest mistake was letting Sean Payton get away!! I hate Garrett I hope he gets fired I am so tired of average. He is not a good head coach and he should not be leading a team at all. Jimmy won Super Bowls cuz he didn’t care what Jerry wanted or said but Garrett is a puppet. We will once again go 8-8 again. Getting rid of dez was a mistake as you see it’s the coaches and play calling not dez.

  • Michael Barthel

    Who in there right mind would go with the receivers we have and say we like our guys nobody in the nfl would roll out with these receivers but Dallas. I love my cowboys I’m a diehard fan but seeing how badly Dallas offense has regressed is sickening. They can’t even throw for 250 a game that’s pathetic. You just used Elliott in the passing game last week and won but where was that this week, where was the zone read that killed the giants in week 2. We have probably the worst offense in the league which tells me Garrett and Linehan have no clue what talent is or have no clue what their doing

    • Brett Herman

      What makes zero sense is how Jerry has gone from a 100% big time gambler some 5 plus years ago and now we did a 180 degree turn and gamble on nothing anymore. We have drafted overall well the last few drafts, we continue to hand out dumb contracts and the restructuring year over year over year of Romo and the line we will still pay for through another year or two and then hopefully start to get a clean cap until we screw that up again.

      Totally agree who in their right mind would roll out this receiving corp on offense and call it legit. Again we gamble on nothing Josh Gordon would have cost next to nothing we won’t pull the trigger, hell resign Dez at this point nothing can be worse than this horrific group we run out there week after week.

      All of the difference makers who have been traded over the past couple of years or we could have gotten we pass on time and again. We let Earl Thomas sit out there instead of adding another All Pro.

      I along with many others just don’t understand what in the hell Jones is doing. The Boys used to go grab these big name skill position players and they have done nothing eventful in years in free agency, done nothing eventful in the draft in trades just nothing zip zilch and the results show on the field a .500 team year after year after year and does not look to change anytime soon

  • w2lucky

    Garrett has had more opportunities (and quality players) to create a solid team than any other NFL coach. It baffles me that a businessman like JJ keeps him around after failing year after year. That is bad business and makes me wonder if perhaps JJ himself may need to step away from the Cowboys. Dallas’ offense is putrid and currently in the hands of a really inaccurate QB with no receivers to help him. Garrett’s decision in OT reflects exactly that.

  • will

    the problem is the coaching staff are trying to emulate the patriots too much. they should have nabbed earl thomas when they could have last summer when the asking price was still a second round draft. thomas might have been the key piece making the defense truly exceptional. they passed up on gordon from the browns. a low risk high reward oppurtunity. they obviously need help on receivers, and so why not jump on a proven veteran. and then dak. he has potential but he needs help to develop him. and kellen moore is simply not the man for the job. they need to get someone really experienced to coach and mentor. he will never get to that point of a true franchise quarterback alone or with subpar inexperienced coaching. sometimes the impression i get is the culture within the organization is too lax and UNDERACHIEVERS. we need the discipline of jimmy johnson and the football genius of bill parcells. and im not sure if the current staff is that.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Final Thoughts and Prediction for Cowboys vs Indianapolis Colts

John Williams

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#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

Over the last five weeks, the Dallas Cowboys have put themselves in a position in week 15 to clinch the NFC East with a win over the Indianapolis Colts or a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Los Angeles Rams.

My how things have changed.

Just six weeks ago, the Cowboys were coming off an embarrassing two touchdown loss on Monday Night Football at the hands of the Tennessee Titans and looked dead in the water sitting at 3-5. A month and a half later they are in position to win the division and potentially have little to play for the final two weeks of the season. That's an amazing turnaround. One that should have Jason Garrett in the Coach of the Year discussions.

As we get ready for the Colts on Sunday, let me give you my final thoughts on the week 15 matchup.

Will Key Injuries Tell the Tale?

By week 15 of the NFL season, pretty much everyone is dealing with injuries and most teams are dealing with injuries to key players. The Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts are no different.

All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin has already been ruled out of Sunday's contest, as he's been battling a knee injury for several weeks. It was worsened on Sunday vs the Eagles when he took a bull rush from Fletcher Cox and fell awkwardly. This will be the first start that Zack Martin has missed in his illustrious five-year career. He's been an iron man for the Cowboys at a position that makes it extremely difficult to stay healthy.

On the plus side, it looks like the Cowboys mat get All-Pro Linebacker Sean Lee and Wide Receiver Tavon Austin back for Sunday. Both Lee and Austin will likely be in reserve/rotational roles if they suit up this week, but if they're active, they'll make important impacts to their respective units.

Indianapolis is struggling with an injury to a very important player in their own right as Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton has not practiced this week. He's dealing with an ankle injury and Colts Head Coach Frank Reich doesn't sound optimistic about his chances of playing.

The Colts will also be missing their Right Guard Mark Glowinski, who has started the last eight games for Indianapolis. Glowinski suffered an ankle injury during the Colts win over the Texans last Sunday. That's a key loss for an offensive line that has played as well as anyone in the NFL this season.

Can the Cowboys Limit Andrew Luck?

The Cowboys defense has been one of the best units in football in 2018 as they've put on a show against really good offensive teams like the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. They'll have another tough test this week against Andrew Luck and the Colts.

According to Pro Football Reference, Luck sits second in the NFL in touchdown passes, sixth in passing yards, third in completions, second in attempts, 12th in quarterback rating, and ninth in QBR. At 7.1 yards per attempt, he sits 22nd in the NFL in and 20th in the NFL in air yards per attempt at 7.3.

Luck has been one of the best passers in the NFL, but he's also thrown the second most interceptions this season. On the flip side, among quarterbacks who have started 13 games, Luck has been sacked the second fewest times. Only Drew Brees has taken less sacks. Luck has only been sacked 16 times in 13 games and has been sacked multiple times in only five games. Over the last three weeks, Luck has taken an average of two sacks a game.

In that four week stretch, the Colts have gone 3-1, and Luck has averaged 321 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception per game.

The Dallas defense has come on strong and is finding ways to get pressure with four rushers. Taking advantage of the injury at right guard and getting to Luck with their front four is a huge key to the game as it is against most quarterbacks. Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are playing as well as any defensive end duo in the NFL this season and I expect that to continue this week.

Big Games from Explosive Duo?

The Dallas Cowboys have been getting huge games from their two most important skill position players; Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. Over the last five weeks, Elliott has averaged 116 rushing yards a game, 55 receiving yards, and at least one touchdown per game. During the same stretch, Cooper has averaged seven receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown per game.

Elliott and Cooper may find it difficult to reach their respective 100 yard milestones against the Colts. As Patrick Conn of WFAA.com illustrates below.

Patrick Conn on Twitter

Colts haven't given up 100 yards to a single rusher. 2-100 yard receiving games vs Texans in first matchup (Hopkins/Coutee). Other than that, no other 100 yard performances

Now, it could be argued that the Colts have only played three games against teams with good to great offenses. The Houston Texans (twice), and the New England Patriots. They went a combined 1-2 in those three games and the defense allowed an average of 32 points per game. The Colts have played better defense over the last seven games than they did earlier in the season. Over the last seven, they went 6-1 and allowed an average of 17 points per game. Of course that stretch of games doesn't feature any offensive juggernauts. They played the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and the Oakland Raiders. The best team they played in their last seven games was the Houston Texans and they allowed 21 points. The Cowboys only allowed 16 points in regulation to the Texans.

Only one team on the Colts schedule to this point is in the top 10 in rushing; the Houston Texans. And only one team on their schedule is in the top 10 in passing; the New England Patriots. Again, in three games against those teams, they went 1-2.

They haven't faced an offense this season that is playing as well, and as balanced, as the Cowboys have over the last five weeks.

Rookie Linebackers Dominating

We've all witnessed the standout play of rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, as the "Wolf Hunter" has taken the NFC by storm during Sean Lee's absence. Vander Esch is third in the league in solo tackles this season. The two players in front of Vander Esch are perennial All-Pro Luke Kuechly and the guy who will probably run away with Defensive Rookie of the Year award, Indianapolis Colts rookie Darius Leonard.

Leonard is leading the NFL in solo tackles and combined tackles per Pro Football Focus. He's tied for the lead league among linebackers with seven sacks and is second in the NFL in Pro Football Focus' "stops" metric. Leighton Vander Esch is fourth.

Both linebackers have been huge contributors for their teams, at times taking over games and coming up with big plays to turn the tide. Throw in Fred Warner in San Francisco and 2018 has been the year of the rookie linebacker.

Prediction

Since I've been writing this column, the Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed a bit of a win streak. I haven't always picked them, as you can see in the New Orleans Saints edition of Final Thoughts, but when I have picked the Cowboys, they've made me look smart and I'm going to go with them again this week on the road.

Indianapolis isn't really known as a tough place to play and in the Jason Garrett era, the Cowboys have generally been a really good team away from AT&T Stadium. I believe this game will be a close one, as most have been this year, but I think that Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott continue their impressive string of performances and are able to do enough to keep Andrew Luck on the sideline and limiting his impact on the game. If T.Y. Hilton is limited in the game or unable to go, that gives the Cowboys a huge advantage as they then can focus on touchdown maker Tight End Eric Ebron and we know what Byron Jones does to tight ends.

This is going to be a tough game, but I like the Cowboys to come out on top. Randy Gregory continues his sack streak and they get to Luck multiple times in the game and are able to force at least one turnover. Dak Prescott is efficient and doesn't turn the ball over this week and finds ways to beat the blitz. So, I've got it...

Cowboys 24 - Colts 20

Be sure to leave us your prediction in the comment section. 



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