It’s been four days since we gave thanks and now it’s time to give in… this Dallas Cowboys Offense is not who we expected it to be.
Yes, Dez Bryant was missing for a good chunk there at the beginning. Of course, Tony Romo has only played in three games. But you know who has been there, fully healthy, for all 11 games so far? Scott Linehan.
The 2014 season earned new contracts for Jason Garrett, Rod Marinelli, and the supposed offensive innovator Linehan and we have yet to see Scott show us why in 2015.
Scott Linehan’s offense, regardless of personnel, has become predictable. Just ask Luke Kuechly.
This is a problem that has existed all season long, but felt all the more magnified during the Turkey Day Meltdown. The Cowboys failed in every aspect of a standard offensive gameplan, and here’s how:
All offseason we heard about how this was the best offensive line in the NFL. They are so far from that hype that it’s laughable.
Before going down with injury Tony Romo was under pressure all day long – much like he was in Week 10 against the Miami Dolphins. The Panthers boast one of the NFL’s finer defensive units, but if you’re the best in the business then nobody should be able to beat you.
Besides being touted as the best overall unit in the NFL, Tyron Smith is widely regarded as the best Left Tackle in the game. Perhaps the expectation has become unreasonably high, but Tyron is simply not delivering. At this point in the season I would say he is the third best man up front at the very best behind Zack Martin and Travis Frederick, and he certainly is not the best player in the game at his position.
Overall Grade: C
Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League – he was one of the worst during the Thanksgiving game against the Panthers.
Romo threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and looked his worst since the opening game of the 2014 season against the San Francisco 49ers.
There’s no denying that Tony rushed himself back to playing (if your team lost seven games in a row in your absence, wouldn’t you?) and it really showed in this game.
His timing with receivers was off. He was forcing passes. He underestimated the Carolina Panthers Defense. It was awful.
Dez Bryant was pretty much taken out of the game by Josh Norman as he only caught two passes for 26 yards. Dez also doesn’t seem to be 100%, and even he couldn’t catch some of the terrible throws Tony had in this game.
Overall Grade: F
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t missed DeMarco Murray this season, and they didn’t miss him during the loss to the Panthers. They do miss their complete offense, though.
Darren McFadden has been carrying the workload very nicely for the Cowboys backfield, but when the threat of the pass game is gone the run game goes with it.
DMC carried it 10 times for a whopping 11 yards while sudden standout Robert Turbin ran it twice for 11 yards. Just like the broccoli and cheese served with your Thanksgiving feast this was not very good.
Overall Grade: C-
I alluded to a rant about Scott Linehan up above and here it is. I understand that our primary playmakers have been in and out for a majority of the season, but that is no excuse.
Plenty of other NFL teams find a way to compete (or at least form competent offenses) in the absence of major stars – Scott Linehan needs to as well. He is the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys and if he doesn’t know already then I can remind him that that title is a BIG DEAL.
Who among us enjoys seeing the standard routine which includes a run up the middle on first down, a dump screen pass on second down, a throw short of the chains on third down, and a punt on fourth?
It’s an exhausting repetition that every defense knows is coming which is why Luke Kuechly was able to take such advantage of it.
Overall Grade: F (I wanted to give him a Q, but it didn’t seem nice)
Linehan, and Garrett for that matter, must do more. Every season and every team is different, but they are still in a situation where they are only two games back of the division lead. It’s time for them to prove that they are worth the contract extensions that they received in January of this year.
Tony Romo is a game-changing quarterback. I’m not here to deny that. But if this team is so dependent on Tony Romo at the quarterback position and no other variables seem to matter then why don’t you and I take their spots? I’ll even let you be Head Coach and I’ll be your OC. I promise to pass on first down and mix in some play action.
Worst case scenario we always lean on the Linehan Routine. That’s what the Cowboys are content with doing these days.