The Dallas Cowboys are headed to San Francisco for Week 7 after resting up during their bye week. Today, I thought we'd take a quick look at how the Cowboys have fared in the game following their bye week during Jason Garrett's tenure as head coach.
Yesterday, CheatsheetWarRoom.com sent me some data about the last five years of Cowboys' performances immediately after their bye week. I looked up 2011 also to get the full range of games since Jason Garrett took over in Dallas.
- 2016 - Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (OT)
- 2015 - Giants 27. Cowboys 20
- 2014 - Cowboys 31, Giants 28
- 2013 - Cowboys 24, Giants 21
- 2012 - Ravens 31, Cowboys 29
- 2011 - Patriots 20, Cowboys 16
It's probably not a big surprise to see that Garrett is 3-3 after bye weeks. This is the same coach who went 8-8 for three straight seasons, and who went 4-12 after going 12-4. A cosmic balancing act has seemingly followed Jason throughout his time with the Cowboys.
What's really important to look at here is the quality of these opponents. Did the bye week really factor in to the outcome? Should Garrett's record following bye weeks encourage or discourage us for this Sunday's game? Does it really matter?
The 2011 Patriots and 2012 Ravens were no slouches. New England went 13-3 that season and reached the Super Bowl, losing to the Giants. 2012 was Baltimore's championship season with Joe Flacco.
Despite their 8-8 record those seasons and both games being on the road, Dallas was competitive in these contests. The 2011 loss came on a last-minute touchdown drive by Tom Brady. The 2012 loss to the Ravens was by just a two-point margin.
Did the extra rest and preparation time from the bye week make Dallas more competitive in these games?
It's arguable, given how the rest of those seasons went. Dallas was still trying to rebuild following the change from Wade Phillips to Jason Garrett and significant roster turnover. As I've said many times, the fact that Garrett even had this team at 8-8 during those years is an accomplishment. They were not on the level of conference and Super Bowl championship teams at that time.
So yes, given how close those contests were, I'll say that the bye week had a positive effect even in losses. It's a reasonable assumption that the Cowboys would've fared worse against those high-caliber opponents without the time off the week before.
2013-2015 gave us three-straight meetings with the New York Giants coming off our bye week. 2013 was another 8-8 season for the Cowboys but the Giants were only 7-9 themselves. With Tony Romo healthy and under center, Dallas took that game despite it being in New Jersey. They'd won a narrow 36-31 meeting against the Giants in the season opener that year, so getting another win on the road was impressive.
In 2014, Dallas had their breakout season under Garrett and went 12-4 on the way to the playoffs. The Giants were only 6-10. Given that, Dallas only winning 31-28 in that year's game is a little disappointing. You'd have expected a more decisive victory, but division games do often take a life of their own. In this case, the bye week didn't seem to matter much.
2015 was, of course, the abysmal season of Romo's collarbone injury and Dallas going 4-12 with Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore at quarterback. That year's post-bye game came during Cassel's run at QB and was actually one of the better showings Dallas had that year; a 27-20 loss on the road. If not for three interceptions by Matty Yikes, the Cowboys might've stolen that game.
These three years give us a mixed bag of evidence. The bye week seemingly helped in 2013 and 2015 but appeared inconsequential in 2014. The fact that all of these games came against a division rival taints things as well; the usual metrics and principles tend to go out the window in rivalry games.
Last year's bye week follow-up was at home against the Eagles, and it was an overtime thriller with the Cowboys winning 29-23 on a Dak Prescott touchdown throw to Jason Witten.
In this case, it's arguable that the bye week actually hurt the young Cowboys. They'd taken a five-game winning streak into the bye and then came out flat in a division game at home. Dak Prescott threw only his second interception in seven games and Dallas was down 23-13 in the third quarter. They finally rallied to force overtime and get the victory, but it definitely took them some time to wake up following the bye week.
Obviously, the circumstances of that game and this year's meeting with the 49ers are very different. Dallas limped into their 2017 bye week after consecutive narrow defeats to the Rams and Packers. They are a 2-3 team desperate to get their season back on track. There's no room for complacency to set in, which could improve their post-bye performance from what we saw last year.
One thing that's clear from this six-year history is that Dallas' success after bye weeks had been consistent with the quality of their opponents. They weren't as good as 2011 Patriots or 2012 Ravens and lost those games. They got beat in 2015 with Matt Cassel at quarterback, as they did in almost every other game without Tony Romo. In the other three years, they were victorious when even or superior to their NFC East rivals.
That's good news for this 2017 game as the 49ers are, seemingly, a much worse team than the Cowboys. They've just changed starting quarterbacks after going 0-6 and seem to already be thinking about the future. They haven't been total pushovers in their losses but there is no excuse, even on the road, for the Cowboys to lose this game.
Based on everything we've considered, I think the bye week will help Dallas in this game. The extra preparation may not help much given the QB change in Frisco, but the rest and opportunity to reset mentally was much needed following two difficult losses. The Cowboys will also get back Sean Lee, whose absence may have been the deciding factor in those defeats.
Will Jason Garrett be over or under .500 in games following bye weeks? We'll find out on Sunday!
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.
Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.
First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.
Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.
Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.
Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.
I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.
It's just not going to happen.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.
Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.
Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.
Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.
Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.
In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.
This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.
Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan
Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.
The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.
Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.
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