What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
The Previous Take: Jason Garrett is the worst NFL coach whose hung on to his job for more than five years.
Today’s Take: Garrett (and by extension his coaching staff) are completely incapable of making adjustments to fit in-game realities.
The Argument: Let’s start with three aforementioned and undeniable facts.
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I really don’t want Jerry Jones to fire Jason Garrett, and for a reason I’ve already stated; Jason Garrett is the worst coach in the NFL to have kept his job as long as he has. The debacle on Thanksgiving Day only re-enforces my point.
Not only did the Cowboys suffer a total and complete ass-kicking on national television, they had every chance to win chance to win that game. To be fair, the final score of 26-15 made that game seem closer than it was, and Dallas blew a couple of scoring opportunities through lack of execution, but there is no denying there was a point in that game where Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott made in game adjustments, and Garrett didn’t respond.
Fret not, sports fans; I will be addressing Dak Prescott’s performance in this game in a subsequent installment in this series which will be coming soon. Today is all about how “Howdy Doody” Garrett didn’t react to the crystal-clear fact that during the course of that game, Buffalo figured out Prescott’s performance degraded catastrophically when under blitz pressure.
Think about it. There was a period in that game when the Cowboys were up 7-0, had a golden opportunity to make it 14-0, and were really not having problems moving the ball against the Bills’ defense. But for a few bounces of that oddly-shaped ball, Dallas could have easily been ahead 21-13 at the half.
But they weren’t.
It was in the second half when Buffalo made it clear they had figured out the Cowboys. The Bills scored on their first three possessions of the second half, and it was clear at that point Dallas wasn’t going to win this game. You can point out to me all day long the Cowboys found the end zone on two of their four second half possessions, but they were never closer than ten points to the Bills after halftime. Not to mention, if you watched that game, you knew after Prescott threw the ball right into Bills’ defensive tackle Star Lotulelei’s stomach that the Cowboys were in trouble. That interception led to a touchdown drive for the Bills giving them a lead which they never relinquished.
You knew the Cowboys were in trouble because the blitz which led to that interception wasn’t the first time the Bills forced Dak Prescott out of his comfort zone, but it didn’t take long to realize Garrett wasn’t going to do the one thing at his disposal which is 100% effective for blunting a pass rush. Ezekiel Elliott snapped of a 30-yard run on the Cowboys’ second possession, and did so in a way that suggested Dallas could run the ball between the tackles all day long. But instead of running the ball through the Buffalo pass rush, the Cowboys only called 15 carries for running backs out of 68 total offensive plays.
Let’s give that a patented Dubsism breakdown. Jason Garrett refused to run the ball when it was clear that was an effective strategy, which is why Dak Prescott attempted 49 passes. There’s a couple of magic numbers in there we need to tease out.
What if I told you that for some reasons we may never know, Jason Garrett is bound and determined to make the world believe Dak Prescott is a “franchise” quarterback? What if I told you that’s the reason why Garrett has clearly decided to put the ball in Dak’s passing hand more than he ever has?
Think about it. 2019 has seen Dak Prescott already setting career marks in passing attempts and yardage. In three of his last four games, Prescott has attempted at least 45 passes. Granted the exception was in that monsoon in New England, but in those other three games, the Cowboys went 1-2. My original take on Prescott was pointing out that in his first few seasons, the Cowboys had a losing record in games where Prescott threw the ball more than 35 times.
Let’s apply that same lens to this year. While the Cowboys are 6-6 on the season, and while plenty of hay has been made about their dismal record against teams with winning records, the fact remains than 12 games into the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys have notched a record of 2-4 when Prescott has thrown the ball 35 or more times. That also means the Cowboys are 4-2 in games in which Prescott throws the ball less than 35 times. In the same time-frame, the Cowboys are 4-1 when Ezekiel Elliot rushed the rock for more than 100 yards, and they are 2-5 when he doesn’t. The breakdown look like this:
Cowboys’ wins in which Ezekiel Elliott rushed for less than 100 yards:
Cowboys’ wins in which Ezekiel Elliott rushed for more than 100 yards:
Cowboys’ wins in which Dak Prescott attempted less than 35 passes:
Cowboys’ wins in which Dak Prescott attempted 35 or more passes:
All tolled, that means three of the Cowboys’ wins have come in games in which Elliot rushed for more than 100 yards AND Prescott attempted less than 35 passes. Two more came in games in which Elliot rushed for more than 100 yards OR Prescott attempted less than 35 passes. That also means that only one came in a game in which Elliot rushed for less than 100 yards AND Prescott attempted 35 or more passes.
Let that sink in for a minute. With the exception of that aforementioned monsoon in New England, the trend in Garrett’s play-calling has been toward a formula which goes a long way to explaining why the Cowboys have an “0-fer” against teams with winning records. In all reality, the Cowboys are going to win the NFC East, largely because the Redskins and the Giants are hot, salty garbage, and the Eagles can’t get out of their own way. Dallas’ final three regular-season games are against the complete collapse-jobs known as the Rams and Bears, wrapped up by my “shoot-their-own-foot” Eagles.
But that Buffalo game on Thanksgiving was a preview of coming attractions come January for the Cowboys. In the middle of the second quarter, Jason Garrett was served full and incontrovertible evidence the Bills were going to blitz the Dallas passing game into a state of inefficacy, and despite that, Garrett refused to change his offensive approach. Granted, a lot of decisions got made for Garrett when the Cowboys were down by two-plus scores, but there was enough football between the Lotulelei interception and that point for “Howdy Doody” Garrett to realize he need to make an adjustment.
Which brings me back to my point for today; Howdy Doody would have been less wooden as a football coach. For whatever reason, Jason Garrett is completely unwilling or incapable of making in-game adjustments, and that will spell the death of Dallas in the play-offs.
Change my mind.
P.S. Jerry Jones…Please don’t fire Jason Garrett…Signed, Philadelphia.
P.P.S. You can see Part One of Change My Mind: Jason Garrett here.
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