I have heard a lot of well wishes (many from Packers fans) as well as read quite a few articles since Sunday night, telling me that the Cowboys are well positioned for the future. “They’ll be back.” “Wait until next year.” Things like that. Is that the case, though, or is it merely good tidings from well-mannered opponents after a hard fought game?
The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the game. This is not a question. And, honestly, any concerns anyone had about Dak Prescott should have been answered Sunday evening. The kid is legit, and coupled with Zeke and Dez behind that offensive line, they should be dominant for years to come. That was never the question though. The question always had to do with every other facet of the Cowboys’ game.
The Dallas defense reared its ugly head on Sunday night, with no play more glaring than the final one. Giving up a thirty yard throw on third and twenty was about as egregious an error as you could get. The fact that the pass rush was nonexistent and they still weren’t able to keep guys covered says a lot about a group that was out-manned all year, yet somehow found ways to get it done. Remember, this was a fully healthy Cowboys defense that gave up three straight scores to open the game. Yes, they need to upgrade many of the positions on defense, and through the draft and free agency they may be able to realize those upgrades. Aaron Rogers is one of the best quarterbacks I have ever seen, don’t get me wrong, but his numbers would not have looked that good if Dallas had come ready to play.
Which leads me into the next problem area: the coaching. I’ve been saying this all year, but the coaching is what was and what will be the undoing of a promising team in Dallas. Between not using your all-pro running back enough early in the game (a pass on third and two in Green Bay’s territory? Seriously? Who’s coaching this team, Pete Carroll?) to allowing Brice Butler to go out to the huddle and return to the sideline, completely stalling the second drive of the game with a fifteen yard penalty, the little things killed Dallas on Sunday. The biggest thing that threw up a dead end sign on the Cowboys’ road to the title game was the fact that they did not come out ready to play. The Packers beat them early in all phases of the game because they were the team that was mentally present and focused. This is on the head coach.
That is three times in the three biggest games this season that Dallas has come out flat. Is it because the most important positions on the offense are manned by rookies? Is it because the defense is truly a no-name defense without consistent big play talent? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. The coach’s job is to have their team ready to play regardless of the situation. The first game of the season, wanting to get off on the right foot, with extra time to prepare, the Cowboys came out flat and lost to a Giants team that wasn’t as good as their record said they were. The second Giants game, with a chance to lock up the division, Dallas came out flat again. The only reason those two games were even close is the vast talent-edge the Cowboys held over the Giants offensively. This game, against Green Bay, with all the marbles on the line, the Cowboys didn’t show up until halfway through the second quarter.
Here’s a wild proclamation, that I would love to be proven wrong, but I don’t believe the Cowboys will win another playoff game as long as Jason Garrett is their head coach. They are an undisciplined, erratic team with a load of talent and no rudder steering the ship. Jason Garrett is being hailed as a coach of the year candidate, when he really just benefitted from a good draft (which I realize he had a hand in) and some great seasons from his players. I don’t give him the credit for that, that’s on the position coaches getting the most out of them. Garrett’s staff has been impressive this season, but the head coach has been far from it.
The real question becomes, do you want to squander the next four years of Zeke, and Dak’s prime on a head coach with all the sideline acumen of a baked potato?