FOX Sports Exclusive
Cowboys’ Garrett continues fateful moves
We enter the final quarter of the season and we have a ton of sizzle.
1. The monologue
The Dallas Cowboys have a major problem. Their head coach can’t coach his way out of a paper bag.
The debacle at the end of the Cardinals game was an epic failure. I’ve officially seen it all. But sadly, if you’ve been watching Jason Garrett manage games in 2011, you cannot be surprised. The Dallas Cowboys coach simply embarrassed himself on Sunday afternoon and cost his team a great opportunity for a much-needed win.
And this is before he iced his own kicker.
It’s simple, really. And that’s what scary. The score is 13-13. Tony Romo hits Dez Bryant for a first down. Dallas gets it to the Cardinals' 31-yard line. There are 24 seconds to go. Garrett and the Cowboys have two timeouts left. Garrett should be screaming “timeout” to Romo and the officials. It’s football 101. It’s conventional wisdom. It’s the only way to manage a game. You have a young kicker. You are on the road. The Cowboys could’ve run two more plays, trying to make things easier for young Dan Bailey. I’m screaming, “timeout.” You are watching on FOX barking the same thing. Instead, Garrett did the unthinkable. He made an unfathomable decision. Garrett let the clock drain down and ordered Romo to spike the ball. Garrett is a Princeton grad. I’ve heard that Ivy Leaguers are supposed to have a clue about things like that. He was supposedly an offensive genius, backing up Troy Aikman all those years. Yet, boy wonder was content kicking a 49 yard-field goal. You have to imagine, somewhere, even Wade Phillips was laughing. That’s how zany, how irresponsible a decision this was.
And then, Garrett iced his own kicker.
Garrett calls a timeout right before young Mr. Bailey boots the football through the uprights. I don’t want to hear the spin that the special teams coach wanted the timeout, fearful that the play clock was going to run down. If you noticed, the play clock didn’t run down. It isn’t the job of the special teams coach to call a timeout. Jason Garrett is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He is in charge of game management. It’s time you act like it, Jason.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time Garrett cost the Cowboys a game.
His passive, don’t-go-for-the-jugular approach doomed the Cowboys in New England. That was a game where you needed to put the pedal to the metal and take into account that the opposing quarterback is Tom Brady. Garrett ran it three straight times with 3:36 to go up three. It was a three-and-out, Brady got the ball back and the ensuing loss was predictable. Against Detroit, with a gigantic lead in the second half, in a game where you should run the ball, Garrett decided to pass. It predictably backfired. Heck, go back to my SCHEIN 9 on Tuesday, Sept 27 after the Cowboys beat the Skins 18-16. Jason Garrett ran the ball three times from the Washington 25-yard line down 16-15, gaining 1 yard on three plays. Garrett held for a field goal to put the Cowboys up by two, putting Washington in position to win, not tie. This, too, was right after Romo hit Bryant on a big gain. If Washington got in field-goal range, the Dallas media would’ve torched Garrett. It’s why I took the time to kill him after a win in Week 3. It was so bad you felt it was a harbinger of things to come.
The Dallas Cowboys are 7-5. The Eagles are a nightmare. The Giants are winless in the second half. If and when it all comes crashing down in Big D, there is only one person to blame. And you don’t have to be an Ivy Leaguer to figure out who it is.
2. Amateur Hour
I’m allowed to go a little bonkers on Hue Jackson because I first guessed it. When a player gets arrested for sticking a gun at someone’s temple, you sit him. If you play him, it is a major distraction. Jackson played Rolando McClain. The Raiders had a pathetic no-show effort in Miami, turning Reggie Bush into Marshall Faulk. I see a correlation.
3. Can’t make it up
Last week Mike Martz forgot to run Matt Forte, let Caleb Hanie throw three picks, and the Bears lost in Oakland. This week, Forte got hurt and is out at least two weeks. Hanie continued his wretched and miserable existence as an NFL starter (his numbers and the old eye-ball test support that statement) and the Bears lost a home game to the sub-par Chiefs.
Chicago native Donovan McNabb is available. Look, I love Donovan, but he’s been washed up for two years. He’s still better than any quarterback the Bears have on the roster. It is worth a shot. Don’t be stubborn Jerry Angelo, like your offensive coordinator who refuses to run the football. And please don’t make me lose my lunch with the potential of you-know-who in Mississippi.
4. NFC Crystal Ball
The Packers go undefeated.
San Fran clinched a division this weekend. The Niners hold onto the No. 2 seed.
New Orleans wins the South and is the 3.
As we wrote two weeks ago in this space after the Giants loss to Philly, you had to know the Cowboys would slip on the banana peel, and they did. To echo my thoughts from a few weeks back, the Giants will beat Dallas twice, including this weekend in Big D. The Giants were humbled against Philly and New Orleans. But they took the Packers down to the wire and players like Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle oozed confidence after the game. A lot of good things happened to the Giants on Sunday.
The Falcons, Lions and Bears are all 7-5 after losses this weekend. Atlanta’s final four games are at the Panthers, home against the Jags, at the Saints and finish at home with defunct Tampa. The Falcons make the playoffs.
The Forte injury controls the fate of the final two slots. The Bears face the Broncos in Denver, Seattle, Green Bay at Lambeau on Christmas and finish in Minnesota. The undisciplined Lions have the Vikes, the Raiders in Oakland, the Chargers and end in Green Bay. There is also a realistic chance two teams from the East actually make the playoffs.
5. AFC Crystal Ball
The Patriots, Ravens, Texans and Steelers are all making the playoffs. I think the Patriots get the No. 1 seed, followed by Baltimore and Houston. The Andre Johnson injury complicates things for the Texans. The race for the final slots is going to be amazing. I predict the Broncos and Jets make the tournament.
If Oakland would’ve banked the win in Miami, the Raiders would’ve had a leg up. But now Oakland closes at the Packers, vs. Detroit, in KC and at home vs. San Diego.
The Broncos are the current leader in the AFC West. It’s wild and crazy. It’s Tebow time. As we wrote last week, the defense really stepped up. The Broncos have the Bears, the Patriots, at the Bills and finish with a home game against the Chiefs. And they have the power of Tebow. I won’t doubt. Never have.
I think the Broncos win the West and the Raiders fade away with that schedule.
The Titans, Bengals and Jets are all 7-5. I think the Jets are the best team of the three and have the most favorable schedule with the Chiefs, at the Eagles, vs. the Giants and at the Dolphins left. Mark Sanchez was clutch and the Jets defense was solid in a win against the ‘Skins. Say what you want about the Jets, and I’ve said it, but they know how to win down the stretch. Tennessee has two tricky spots: against the Saints this weekend and in Houston to finish the year, when the Texans could be playing for a bye. Cincy will be a factor, next year.
6. I’m a genius / moron
I told you T.J. Yates and the Texans would upset the Falcons! But you knew that when you watched Cosmic Schein. This defense and run game are too good.
Meanwhile, you know the man crush I have on Kevin Kolb. And I was calling for Dallas to lose a game. Yet I didn’t pull the trigger on the upset special. Shame on me.
7. My guys
• Cam Newton: The Panthers quarterback sets the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 13 on the season, scoring three times against the Bucs
• Rob Gronkowski: He’s a beast with 14 touchdowns in 2011. And he’s akin to cheating in fantasy football.
• Pittsburgh special teams: Whether it was an Antonio Brown return or a blocked field goal or taking the ball away, the “energy” on special teams was the first thing Mike Tomlin mentioned to us about the Steelers dominant win over the Bengals.
• Ray Rice: 204 rush yards. Dear Cam Cameron, please keep running the ball with Mr. Rice. Sincerely, the good people of Baltimore
8. My goats
• Kyle Shanahan: Rex Grossman is Rex Grossman. Roy Helu was having a good game. Why the ‘Skins offensive coordinator kept chucking the ball around is beyond me.
• Jim Schwartz: At some point, don’t you have to blame the coach for the irresponsible, hot-head ways in Motown?
• Caleb Hanie: THAT. WAS. PAINFUL.
• Raheem Morris: The blowup on Brian Price was over the top.
• Steve Spagnuolo: Congrats to St. Louis on being the single most insignificant team in the league this year. Congrats to Spags’ on going back to Phily to replace Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator, as we wrote on Friday.
9. Three nuggets of wisdom
• I thought it was worthwhile to resurrect this quote from May 2 when Rich Gannon and I interviewed Gary Kubiak after the draft. Talking about some fifth-rounder named T.J. Yates, Kubiak said, “I was surprised this guy was never mentioned. I really liked his career at (North) Carolina. He dealt with ups and downs and played really well through adversity.”
• I can’t say enough good things about Marshawn Lynch’s effort against the Eagles on Thursday night.
• For the second week in a row, I’d currently call the Ravens the Super Bowl favorites in the congested AFC and the most complete team in the conference.