The Dallas Cowboys are currently 7-8 and on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned after their Week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. After leading the NFC East all season long, the Cowboys have lost four of their last five games. This is just the latest edition of this team not being able to get it done when it matters the most over the last nine years. There’s been one constant throughout all of this, and that’s Head Coach Jason Garrett.
2011 is when this pattern of coming up short in crucial games started during the Garrett era. The Cowboys came into December 7-4 and on a four-game winning streak. After back to back close losses to the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants, the Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-15 to improve to 8-6. They would lose the following week to the Eagles setting up a showdown with the Giants in the season finale with the NFC East title on the line. Not only did the Cowboys lose, but they were also dominated 31-14 and blew a perfect opportunity to make the postseason, finishing 8-8.
In 2012, the Cowboys entered Week 16 with an 8-6 record and having won five of their previous six games, including a three-game winning streak. After a tough 34-31 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Cowboys had an opportunity to win the NFC East again in the final game of the season, this time against the Washington Redskins. Much like the previous year, the Cowboys came out extremely flat and suffered a 28-18 defeat and watched the Redskins punch their ticket to the playoffs. This was yet another example of Garrett failing to come up with a successful gameplan in the season’s most important game.
2013 would see the Cowboys enter the month of December at 7-5 and in a first-place tie atop the NFC East with the Eagles. After back to back losses to the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys got back on track and squeaked by the Redskins 24-23 thanks to a game-winning touchdown pass from former signal-caller Tony Romo to DeMarco Murray. This set up a Week 17 showdown with the Eagles for the division crown. Much like the previous two seasons, the Cowboys were not prepared in the biggest game of the year and lost 24-22, finishing 8-8 for the third consecutive year. This would also be the third straight season the Cowboys were one win away from the playoffs in Week 17 and Garrett couldn’t prepare them for victory, not a good look.
In 2016, Garrett actually got the Cowboys to the playoffs behind a dominate 13-3 season and secured the number one seed in the NFC. After their first-round bye, the Cowboys awaited the Packers with the chance to advance to the NFC Championship Game. The Packers jumped all over the Cowboys building a 21-3 lead halfway through the second quarter. Dallas would storm back, though, adding a touchdown and a field goal before halftime and trimming the deficit to 21-13. The Cowboys battled all the way down to the final seconds before ultimately losing 34-31 on a Mason Crosby field goal. After dominating the entire NFC all season long, the Cowboys failed to win a single playoff game, yet another indictment on Garrett.
Last season, the Cowboys finished 10-6 and won the NFC East. In the wildcard round they held the Seattle Seahawks top rushing attack to 73 yards and won a hard-fought battle 24-22 and advanced to the divisional round to face the Los Angeles Rams. Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn’t keep the momentum from a week before in this one. They gave up 170 rushing yards in the first half and 270 yards for the game as the Rams controlled the tempo en route to a 30-22 victory. This would make it 23 straight years that the Cowboys couldn’t get out of the second round.
2019 has probably been the most frustrating year of Garrett’s tenure in Dallas. Twice this season, the Cowboys have lost three straight games which is unacceptable for a team with the amount of talent they possess. Nonetheless, for the fourth time in the last nine seasons, the Cowboys had a chance to win the NFC East vs a division opponent this past Sunday in Philadelphia. Much like the previous three occasions, the Cowboys were flat on both sides of the ball. Their defense constantly allowed third-down conversions in key moments and the offense only produced nine points and lost 17-9.
Now, the Cowboys need to beat the Redskins this Sunday and hope the Giants beat the Eagles in order to make the playoffs. A team that once controlled their own destiny to make the postseason now has to rely on another team to get them to the playoffs.
So what have we learned here? It is simple, Jason Garrett has had ample opportunities to get this organization to the next level. Yes, players hold much of the blame themselves but he has been the one constant for almost a decade. Players such as DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and DeMarcus Lawrence have been at Garrett’s disposal. All he has to show for this is two playoff victories since he took over in 2010.
At some point, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has to realize that you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Garrett has shown time and time again that he can’t consistently prepare teams to win in big games. It’s time for new leadership in Big D and it needs to happen in 2020.