On Sunday night’s much anticipated debut between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, the Cowboys looked anything but Super Bowl contenders. Yet, at the end of the primetime game, they were in position to score a go-ahead touchdown and win the game (which they did, but was wiped out by a holding penalty).
You can point the blame many places. The 12 penalties. Deangelo Hall’s return off the Tashard Choice fumble at the end the first half that gave the Redskins a 10-0 lead and momentum. Kicker David Beuhler’s missed 34 yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, which would have change the Cowboys strategy late in the game. Alex Barron’s three holding penalties in the final 30 minutes of game time or even the final one which cost the cowboys a game winning touchdown.
But in the grand scheme of things, it was Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett that cost Dallas the game.
First off, Wade Phillips’s defense limited the Kyle & Mike Shanahan led Redskins offense to only six points and held them without a touchdown. The ‘Skins obviously finished the game with 13 points. But you’re telling me, with all this talent and all these weapons — Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Felix Jones and Marion Barber — you can’t put up 14 points?
It’s no secret that the Cowboys have a great three-headed monster at running back: Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. Yet, Jason Garrett called for 48 pass plays and only 22 running plays.
The contest was never out of reach for Dallas; majority of the game the Cowboys were within a touchdown. And the running backs weren’t struggling, eating up the ground with a 103 yards and 4.7 yards per carry. In the first half, with the game within a field goal, Dallas ran the ball 11 times to an astonishing 26 pass attempts.
But Marion Barber got only eight carries, Felix Jones got eight carries and Tashard had five. How is the running game supposed to get in rhythm?
Not to mention the offensive line. The offensive line is known to be a strong run-blocking unit, yet Jason Garrett was awfully concerned with his pass blocking. Garrett called numerous short drop back passes that were snuffed out by the Redskins. The solution is simple, RUN THE BALL!
How about on Dallas’ second drive of the game. Starting at their own 28, they charged all the way down to the Redskins 12 as 3:28 ticked off the clock. They were moving the ball well, but Garrett got questionably fancy. 1st-and-10, first quarter coming to a close, Cowboys moving the ball perfectly fine, and he calls for a halfback pass with Marion Barber. Why? Your moving the ball well, just keep pounding, don’t get cute with the ball! The Cowboys would end the drive with a missed field goal.
Jason Garrett made an emphasis to get the ball to Dez Bryant early in the game. He forced three flat screens that barely gained a yard, two of which on consecutive plays. Why though? If Dez Bryant is as good as we’ve made out to believe, then let the game come to him. Let Dez get into the swing of things and his opportunities will come. Instead the Cowboys production from Dez in the first half was four catches for 14 yards.
Late in the first half the Redskins had possession of the ball and were trying to kill the clock for the half. Wade Phillips called a pair of timeouts to get the ball back and trusted the Cowboys offense to hopefully tie up the score as they were down 3-0.
With 27 seconds left, the Cowboys got one first down and a pair of incomplete passes. Jason Garrett was calling the plays at the time and I think Wade Phillips never assumed what would ensue was actually feasible. With four seconds left, Tashard Choice was stripped of the ball and cornerback Deangelo Hall scooped up the fumble and returned the ball for 32 yards for a touchdown.
Jason Garrett, it’s your offense, you call the plays, you failed at getting into field goal position, there’s four seconds left, so KNEEL! That play was the turning point of the entire game.
The Cowboys would continue to fight in the second half, and they valiantly came close. Pulling within three points late in the third quarter, the Dallas offense was looking solid. With 7:47 left in the ball game, Jason Garrett from the Dallas 33 yard line called two consecutive pass plays, one incomplete, one complete to Miles Austin for eight yards.
So Third and two, Garrett finally calls a run play, a sweep to Tashard Choice which resulted in a loss of three yards. Maybe it was just great defense? But it wasn’t the right call, because the Cowboys had run similar sweep plays multiple times in the game on third down! It was predictable, stupid and made no sense. The Cowboys suffered a three-and-out in the most crucial time of the game and their first three-and-out of the game!
The Cowboys out gained the Redskins 380 to 250 offensive yards, with only seven points to show for it.
Many blame the loss on right tackle Alex Barron’s holding penalty that wiped out Roy Williams game winning touchdown. The truth of the matter is, the game was lost much earlier than that, when the Cowboys failed to seize many opportunities due to poor play calling against an inferior opponent, thanks to their offensive leader Jason Garrett.
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