POSTGAME QUOTE: Jerry Jones second guesses Jason Garrett’s conservative play calling

The Boys Are Back note: After Jerry Jones’ comments immediately after the Dallas Cowboy loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night … this article (see post below) from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, and many more like it, sparked a wave of controversy over the airwaves and in print.

Against Detroit, the aggressive playcalling was criticized for days and days and days! The mental bug was in place … be conservative. Fast forward. Now, against New England, conservative playcalling is being criticized! Being conservative, or by contrast, being aggressive with Romo’s free-spirited style of plays are really not the issue! Offensive success boils down to two areas … time and opportunity to get the playmakers in position (OL) … and sheer determination and physical/mental ability to execute the play. Every call in a playbook can be successful … if you have the talent to set up and execute the play! Doesn’t matter if it’s conservative … or aggressive.

Please enjoy the post below, read the commentary that follows, and feel free to leave your comments.

October 16, 2011

After trying his best not to second guess Garrett, owner Jerry Jones spoke at  length about not going for the dagger late in the game.

He thought this could have been a big win for the Cowboys and would have  preferred to try to make touchdowns and first downs rather than play  conservatively.

Jones lamented the decision to run it three times before giving the ball back  to Tom Brady for the game winning drive.

“It could have been a tremendous boon for us,” Jones said. “That is the whole  point. This is the kind game you throw off the goal line like we did in the  championship game against San Francisco. You don’t usually make that call. But  it won us the game. It was very similar situation in my mind.”

You have to excuse Jones some times because he has those three Super Bowl  titles of the 1990’s still dancing his mind _ even though the Cowboys have a  124-121 record since the last title in 1995.

But he is right about one thing, if you are going to make a statement on the  road against a supposedly superior opponent, you don’t go in playing patty cake  with them.

Remember then coach Jimmy Johnson’s quote following the aforementioned 1992  title game victory against the favored 49ers?

“When you go up against 600 pound gorilla, you don’t hit him lightly, you hit him with all you got,” Johnson said triumphantly.

Well Garrett went up against the gorilla in the future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick and Brady who may go down as the best to ever play and hit them  ever so lightly.

But again this is maybe what Romo’s penchant for mistakes in crunch time has  wrought.

This was the first game since the three interception meltdown in the 34-30  loss to the Lions when the Cowboys blew a 24-point lead, the largest in team  history.

It didn’t help that Romo threw an interception on the opening series of the  game, either.

But the devil is in the details.

Consider the third quarter series in which the Cowboys, down 13-10, had a  first and goal at the seven. A first down pass in the flat was dropped by rookie  running back DeMarco Murray. Romo was sacked on second down, then short pass to  running back Tashard Choice before settling for a 22-yard game tying field  goal.

Not one pass was thrown into the end zone.

Certainly the sack set them back but the Cowboys were already in field goal  range, why not throw one in the end zone?

It’s the same second guess in the fourth quarter when following a Sean Lee  interception, the Cowboys drove to the New  England 10-yard line.

A five-yard pass to tight end Martellus Bennett on first down was followed by  an incomplete pass to Choice.

Garrett then called a shovel pass to Choice that was stuffed for a loss of  three. The Cowboys had to settle for a Bailey field goal, this one was 26 yards,  giving them a 16-13 lead.

Not one pass was attempted into the end zone. Not one high ball to receiver  Dez Bryant against the miniature Patriots defense backs.

The killer for Jones however came two series later after the Cowboys defense  held Brady and the high-octane offense down again, forcing a punt with 3  minutes, 46 seconds left in the game.

The Cowboys had a first down at their own 28 and this is when Jones wanted to  throw and give the Patriots the dagger like they did against the 49ers so many  years ago.

Garrett however called three straight runs against a defense they had  mustered nothing on the ground against all game. Of the team’s 77 rushing yards,  17 came from Romo on a scramble. The running backs gained 60 yards on 23  carries.

“Well, you always want to as a quarterback, but once again, you do a lot of  game planning and film and things that you feel comfortable with,” Romo said  when asked if wanted to throw a pass in that situation. “As a competitor, you  always want be in a situation to have a chance. At the time of the game, I can  understand definitely why we did that.

Garrett said it was about managing the game, running clock and trusting a  defense that held the Patriots under 30 points for the first time 14 games  dating back to last year.

Jones would have preferred to go for it rather than put the back in Brady’s  hands.

“Last week we didn’t go conservative and we second-guessed that,” Jones said.  ” This week we went conservative and we’re going to second-guess that. I would  have like to have seen him go for the first down. We bet he couldn’t take  the ball the length of the field and he did. We are here like we are  because we thought we could pull another stop. That is asking a lot of the  defense to pull another stop.”

Clarence E . Hill Jr.


The Boys Are Back commentary: While this is a compelling subject, it is not the ‘be all, and end all’ on the subject. Conservative playcalling, while frustrating at times, is only as detrimental as the athletes that are executing the plays! Or in this case, the lack of execution. If you’ll think back to the 90’s Dallas Cowboys … remembering the architects of this Dallas Cowboy offense … with the likes of Ernie Zampese, then Norv Turner. On the sidelines was the young influential Jason Garrett. You’ll recall that the Cowboys made a living at being conservative late in games. They ate up the play clock … which took the wind out of their opponents! Opposing teams stood on their sidelines, helpless and disappointed as they watched. Those roles were reversed yesterday, as the Dallas Cowboys watched Tom Brady and the Bill Belichick offense in the final two minutes. Jason Garrett made note of this philosophy and success … it was affirmed yesterday, just as it was many times during his quarterbacking days.

The difference in 2011? The offensive line (OL) primarily. I’m not saying that Felix Jones is Emmitt Smith … nor am I implying that Tony Romo is Troy Aikman. I’m simply saying that the bulk of the blame should not be placed on playcalling. This Dallas Cowboy OL is VERY young and inexperienced. I do agree, with that premise in mind, that Jason Garrett should be using more playaction … more Tony Romo rollout and runs … and more shoring up his green OL with RB, FB, and TE blocking assists. The offensive line will come together. It’s going to take time, and unfortunately, patients on our part. We, as fans, want a winner NOW! Be assured that Jerry Jones feels the same way … as do, Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan … the players, and the entire Dallas Cowboy organization! Jerry Jones will sit down with Garrett … and his feelings will be expressed. It may have already happened! All of this Romo bashing, and now Garrett bashing, will come to an abrupt halt once the offensive line reaches the turning point. As we all should realize … deep down inside … games are won in the trenches … it has ALWAYS been that way! Sure, each teams Superstar’s make significant contributions. I’m simply reminding you that … it all starts and ends with the meat and potatoes … the usually unsung hero’s … linemen! 

I’m asking you to consider other factors. For example, Rob Ryan’s Dallas defense allowed New England to march 80 yards down the field on the final drive! I absolutely agree that his exciting defense was dominate for 58 minutes. Yet, when it came down to stopping Tom Brady … in the final two minutes … it didn’t happen! An interception was dropped by the Dallas D … that would have sealed the deal!

The above average Felix Jones was on the sidelines during much of the game, and replaced with hardworking running backs that produced very average numbers. Murray was averaging 3.2 yards per carry. On the drive in question, Murray lost two yards (resulted in 2nd and 12, which indicates pass) … then Choice lost one (resulted in 3rd and 13, which indicates pass) … then an OL penalty (3rd and 18, indicates pass) … followed by a generally successful screen that resulted in a lower than usual 8 yards. I’m not going to beat Jason Garrett for running-back plays when passing plays are generally expected by the opposing defense! I do think play-action short passes would have been a better choice … in hindsight. If Murray get’s his 3.2 on the first carry, that changes the whole dynamic of the final moments … and plays that would have followed.

Tony Romo is still playing injured, with little mention of this from the general press. Have you thrown a 50 yard bomb with fractured ribs while wearing a restrictive vest? It takes more time to execute a successful moderate-to-deep pass. If Romo doesn’t have time to make the read, setup for the pass, then the pass play we dream about … can’t always happen. Rushed passes lead to interceptions! Miles Austin’s return was helpful, but he’s not yet at his usual playing form. Give him another week. Romo threw to ten different receivers. That’s a good sign … upcoming defenses need to prepare for that! Diamond Dez Bryant is starting to put his footprint on this team, but hasn’t stepped up in the second half of games. Our gifted Diamond Dez is improving, but needs to master the playbook! He is in the wrong place at the wrong time on way too many occasions! Wrong routes lead to interceptions!

Bottom line: There were 60 minutes of opportunities … and we’re basically dwelling on one drive during that period. Don’t let the media fool you. Hype sells newspapers … hype sells advertising … hype brings in listeners. We’ve lost three games by a combined 11 points. We’ve played highly successful, playoff contending teams! We’ve done this with a young and inexperienced offensive line. Looking back, considering all of the factors … I’m convinced more than ever, that … The Boys Are Back. Reread this article in week 9 … week 12 … and once the playoff race truly begins. I think you’ll agree … that it all comes down to what’s happening in the trenches! The inexperience of an offensive line is most apparent in red-zone, goal-line, and in the running game stats! When you’re going up against 600 pound gorillas, you need zookeepers (offensive line) that can take charge. Jimmy Johnson had that with his pro-bowl linemen. Give Jason Garrett time. 

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