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TE Snap Count Reveals Flaws on Cowboys Final Drive

There’s something severely flawed about the way the Dallas Cowboys play offense. Yes, you can look at the play of the offensive line, the play of the quarterback, or the play of the wide receivers and see some issues. However, the play calling, and just as important, the personnel deployment isn’t helping. The thing I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around this season is the way Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan uses tight ends despite not having a tight end on the team that is a threat in the passing game.

I pointed it out after the loss to the Washington Redskins when the Dallas Cowboys trotted out Dalton Schultz while the Cowboys were driving down the field with less than two minutes left in the game. Even then, Schultz wasn’t one of the Cowboys five best pass catchers. Now with Amari Cooper on the team, there’s little reason to deploy a TE in passing situations.

Each of the Dallas Cowboys three tight ends played as many or more offensive snaps than Allen Hurns 18.

  • Blake Jarwin – 27
  • Dalton Schultz – 24
  • Rico Gathers – 18

On the final drive of the game, the Dallas Cowboys were in 11 personnel for every play until the 4th and goal at the end of the game. There were plays that took Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup off the field, likely for rest. Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers split the snaps on the last drive of the game — aside from Blake Jarwin’s reception for six yards — and they were largely invisible.

Tight End Snap Count Reveal Flaws in Two-Minute DrillWith the Dallas Cowboys trailing by 14 with under two minutes to play and facing a 4th and 10, Scott Linehan called for a 12 personnel — 1 RB, 2 TEs, and 2 WRs — with Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers on the field together.

Why?!?!?!?!?!? 

On the final play of the game, when you are staring at a 3-5 record that is going to make making the playoffs nearly impossible, why do you have Rico Gathers and Blake Jarwin on the field at the same time? When you need a play, you want to have your best players on the field, and time and again, the Scott Linehan fails to get his best players on the field together. It happened in Washington and it happened again on Monday Night Football. The Dallas Cowboys have some offensive flaws, but the offensive coordinator isn’t helping them to overcome or mask those flaws on offense.

I get that NFL teams are looking to create mismatches down the field by using bigger bodies against safeties. The problem is, you must have players who are good to be considered mismatches. The Cowboys don’t have a tight end on the roster that should be on the field when the Cowboys are in obvious passing situations like they were when down two scores to the Titans.

Scott Linehan is addicted to tight ends. It’s time for an intervention people. 

I know that Linehan isn’t completely to blame for the Cowboy offensive struggles this season, but he shoulders some of the blame. His offense with Dak Prescott worked for 24 games spanning 2016 and the first half of 2017, but Dak Prescott and Scott Linehan haven’t made it work for the last 16 games. That is a problem.

They made the right decision by making sure Gallup got a starter’s amount of snaps last night, despite Hurns getting the starter designation. But when the Cowboys are in those two-minute situations, they have to get their best receivers on the field and none of the tight ends qualify. Cooper, Beasley, and Hurns are good to great route runners and Michael Gallup has shown an ability to make plays down the field.

Their best passing lineup moving forward is 10 personnel and I will preach that from today until the end of the season. Getting Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Allen Hurns on the field at the same time with Ezekiel Elliott gives Dak Prescott the best opportunity to make plays down the field. For some reason Linehan refuses to figure out a way to get their best pass catchers on the field at the same time.

Scott Linehan is running out of time to figure things out with the Dallas Cowboys. Though Jason Garrett doesn’t seem inclined to take the play calling duties away from Scott Linehan that could ultimately lead to Garrett’s downfall. The Dallas Cowboys aren’t going to make the playoffs this season, but how they finish the season, particularly on offense is going to determine Garrett’s fate.

Scott Linehan will be looking for work this offseason. Jason Garrett may be joining him.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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