It was only a week ago, time is funny in an NFL season, that we were walking into work with our heads hung low thanks to a season-opening loss at home to the New York Giants.
Many members of Cowboys Nation, including this one, chastised Head Coach Jason Garrett and his staff for what seemed like a conservative disposition that, in our minds, ultimately lost the Cowboys the game.
The talk went on and on, and we made these coaches sound more vanilla than the supposed level of difficulty of the defenses Dak Prescott carved up in the preseason. Hey, that’s football season. We’ll talk about anything!
Jason Garrett gave us a whole hell of a lot to talk about this week, and he did it by being the polar opposite of conservative. He heard our cries, and he put them into motion.
I applaud him for that.
4th And 1: Jason Garrett Goes For It
For the second week in a row the Cowboys received the opening kick off and turned it into points, albeit a Dan Bailey field goal. They were then able to force a Washington punt. A 3-0 advantage obviously isn’t as good as 7-0, but it works.
On their second possession the Cowboys were marching and found themselves on the Redskins 30-yard line; trouble is they were there on 4th and 1. That’s an easy Dan Bailey field goal, right? Take the points and run, right? Not so fast says Jason Garrett.
After a week when his team took far too many, 4 to be specific, field goals instead of touchdowns… Jason Garrett had had enough. With one swift and decisive instruction, Coach Garrett brought forth a new disposition to his Cowboys.
The Cowboys would convert this all-important play thanks to a great play-action bootleg where rookie Dak Prescott found Geoff Swaim for a 28-yard gain. They would then go on to score on a 1-yard Ezekiel Elliott rushing touchdown. Imagine that!
All logic, common sense, and conservatism suggests that teams take a field goal in that scenario. Most probably would. Not Jason Garrett. Not on Sunday, September 18th. This was his game and he was taking it, and he showed this same ferocity later on in the game.
Surprise! Onside Kick Was A Brilliant Decision
Late in the third quarter the Cowboys took a 20-17 lead, and seemingly the game’s momentum.
Remember the stakes at this point:
- The loser of this game would fall to 0-2 on the season.
- The Cowboys had not won a game without Tony Romo since being on this very field last December.
- At this point the Cowboys Defense was having a great degree of difficulty containing the Washington Offense.
Most coaches in this situation wouldn’t think twice about kicking off. The only thing on their minds would be what defensive personnel they were about to be in while trying to get the ball back – not Jason Garrett.
Even though he elected not to go with Dan Bailey’s foot in his earlier bold decision, Jason Garrett trusted its accuracy more than ever here. Coach Jason Garrett took control of this game, something Cowboys Nation has been begging for, and dialed up a surprise onside kick. Unfortunately the ball didn’t even travel 10 yards, but nevertheless – this is not hyperbolic – this is one of the greatest moves I have ever seen Jason Garrett make.
Jason Garrett played to win in Washington, and you know what? He won. Did the surprise onside kick specifically aid in that effort? No, obviously not. What won the game for the Cowboys was the mentality that Jason Garrett brought into FedExField with him. He has seen far too many plays, too many moments, too many games slip away from him. This game was about living and dying by his terms and I greatly respect that.
While the most important note from Sunday’s game in Washington is obviously that the Cowboys won, this is the most critical note. This season is different. This team is different. This coach is different. They are no longer about playing odds and maximizing chances. This is a group that is about playing their style of football and if you don’t like it you can deal with it while we celebrate. Huzzah to Jason Garrett.