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By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys vs. Cardinals Week 16 Review: How Jason Garrett Cost Dallas a Win

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Jonathan Bales

The majority of fans and football analysts are blaming kicker David Buehler for the Cowboys’ loss to the Cardinals last night in Arizona.  While Buehler is certainly at fault for blowing an extra point, the real goat is Jason Garrett.  Listed below is why, along with additional observations from the contest.

  • Down 21-19 in the third quarter, Garrett decided to kick an extra point.  Huge mistake.  I’ve talked all season about why teams should try way, way more two-point conversions.  Over the course of any given season, kickers make around 98 percent of extra points, while two-point conversions are successful around 48-49 percent of the time.  While the expected points of extra points is higher (.98 x 1 is greater than .48 x 2), the difference isn’t great enough that it should overcome all game situations.  For example, Garrett never would have kicked the extra point in the fourth quarter, as he doesn’t know if the Cowboys will score again.

  • Further, two-point conversions are only statistically inferior to extra points because coaches tend to call the wrong plays down by the goal line.  Over the last 20 seasons, rushing the ball has yielded a successful two-point conversion over 60 percent of the time.  Even if a team went for two points after nearly every score and rushed the ball each time, I doubt the success rate would jump below 50 percent (the break-even level at which two-point tries are statistically equivalent to extra points, assuming a 100 percent success rate on the latter).  Thus, extra points should actually only be attempted in very specific situations, such as a tied game in the fourth quarter.
  • On top of all of that, let’s not forget Buehler is about as erratic as kickers come.  His extra point success rate is nowhere near 98 percent (probably closer to 94 or so), meaning the Cowboys would only need to convert on 47 percent of two-point tries to yield the same expected points.  And if you’re correctly running the ball, what does it matter if Stephen McGee is at quarterback?
  • I assume Garrett attempted the extra point because he figured Dallas would score again anyway.  That’s faulty logic, however.  Even if we assume two-point conversions yield less expected points than extra points, and we take into account McGee’s presence in the lineup, the difference between a two-point try and extra point is still small enough that, for an extra point to be the right call, we’d have to assume there’s less than a one percent chance the Cowboys wouldn’t score again.  While it’s likely the offense was going to put more points on the board, it certainly wasn’t greater than 99 percent.
  • I updated live from the game last night on Twitter, and a few followers claimed that it was “too early to go for two and the chart says the extra point is the right call.”  While I appreciate everyone who took the time on Christmas to read my thoughts, that reasoning is simply incorrect.  What does it even mean to be “too early to go for two”?  While you certainly have less of an idea of the final score in the first quarter as compared to late in the game, you should always side with statistics.  If the numbers say attempting a two-point conversion is the right call (which they did for the Cowboys in the third quarter–and it wasn’t even close), then kicking an extra point is the risky move.  Further, NFL coaches are just tapping the surface of advanced statistics and game theory, meaning most of their “infallible” charts are dead wrong.  It’s Garrett’s job to give the team the highest probability of victory, and whether a decision seems “risky” or not to the public, it needs to be made.  A coach who foregos the numbers to save his job is one who probably doesn’t possess the adequate aggressiveness to win a Championship anyway.
  • On to a new topic. . .I actually think Buehler should keep his job, for now, and continue to kick field goals in the offseason.  The fact that he tends to make the long ones (4-5 from 50+ yards this season) and miss the “easy” ones lends me to believe the problem is his confidence, not his leg.  He’s an athlete, though, and not a regular kicker, so I think he possesses the mindset to overcome his mental demons and eventually be a solid kicker.  If he doesn’t prove that in training camp next year, though, he needs to be replaced.
  • While I’m placing blame on people, let’s not forget Marc Colombo.  Last night was probably his worst game as a professional, which is saying something considering how bad he’s been all year.  He was absolutely manhandled by Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, and anyone else that lined up over top of him.  He needs to be gone next season, and it’s a shame the Cowboys didn’t get to see more of Sam Young or Robert Brewster this year.
  • Sometimes we forget just how dominant DeMarcus Ware is because he’s that way all the time.  With all of the Cowboys’ problems this season, let’s remember how lucky we are to have Ware.
  • The Cowboys love to run screens from a formation called “Double Tight Left/Right Twins Left/Right Ace.”  Last night, I predicted a screen to Martellus Bennett from the formation before it happened.  People thought I was psychic.  Nope, I have just watched Garrett call plays a little too much.
  • Shown below is another play the Cowboys run from the formation, with the ball often going to Felix Jones on a swing pass.  The play isn’t a true screen, but it functions similarly.

  • Early in the game, Garrett converted on a 3rd and short by motioning Miles Austin into the backfield, faking a fullback dive to Marion Barber, and pitching to Austin for the first down.  This is an example of how Garrett can use his past predictability to gain an advantage, as the Cowboys have run a fullback dive to Barber over and over this season in short-yardage situations.  Garrett knew it, but more importantly, he knew that Arizona knew it.  Game theory can be quite useful, huh?
  • The Cowboys ran around five or six plays from “Double Tight Strong” (I’ll get the official numbers to you tomorrow).  I can tell you without looking at the film that the offense was highly successful when they ran a play other than the strong side dive from the formation–something they appeared to do about half of the time.
  • The Cowboys motion into “Double Tight Strong” quite a bit, but they never motioned out of it–until last night.  I’ll have more on that particular play after I watch it a few times.
  • Jason Witten has sure hands, but he doesn’t generally make the amazing catches.  He made a few last night, however, and his late-season resurgence has validated the theory of a few DC Times readers that Witten may have been hurt early in the year.
  • I suggested the Cowboys try to beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on some double-moves, and they did just that early in the game, but Austin dropped Jon Kitna’s perfect pass.  It’s been an up-and-down year for Austin, but I think he’ll rebound nicely next season as the No. 2 option.
  • The Cowboys missed a few opportunities for more points when Garrett wrongly kicked field goals.  With a 4th and 2 at the Arizona 24-yard line, Dallas should have gone for it.  Ditto on a 4th and 3 from the Cardinals’ 35-yard line.  Buehler made both field goals, but results don’t necessarily justify decisions.  If I bet $100 to make $50 that heads will come up on a coin flip, it’s a poor bet.  That doesn’t change after the fact if heads does come up.
  • Sean Lee has improved, but he still gets overpowered at times inside.  That’s his No. 1 weakness headed into the offseason.
  • What in the hell was Mike Jenkins doing on that Cardinals bomb for a touchdown?  The Cowboys blitzed, and it looked like Jenkins figured John Skelton would have to throw early.  He can’t just go jumping routes when he’s in true man coverage, however.  Although I’ve seen some writers claim Jenkins should have received safety help, that isn’t really the case.  The Cowboys were in Cover 1, meaning man coverage all over the field with Alan Ball deep.  Ball would likely shade the side of Larry Fitzgerald, though, meaning Jenkins should know he’s on an island.
  • I thought Stephen McGee looked pretty good for his first real game action.  He was wild on a few throws, but he showed good mobility and his decision-making wasn’t atrocious.  He still needs to learn when he can sit in the pocket and when to bail, however.  More on him tomorrow.
  • I’ve seen great improvement from Andre Gurode over the second half of the season.  I think he deserves to stay in Dallas for another year.
  • One of Garrett’s largest weaknesses, in my opinion, is his inability to realize that optimal personnel in real game situations may not be inherently optimal.  For example, running the ball from three and four-receiver sets isn’t inherent optimal, but it can be extremely efficient due to defensive substitutions.  Remember, the best coaches don’t always put their best players on the field, but rather the players that create the biggest disparity between their team and the opponent.

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26 Responses to Cowboys vs. Cardinals Week 16 Review: How Jason Garrett Cost Dallas a Win

  1. starred4life says:

    Hopefully you are right about Gurode. We can’t replace every O lineman (except Free) in one draft. Although now picking ahead of the Cards should help us secure a decent guard or right tackle.
    It would have been nice to see some of Brewster. I sincerely hope he is a solid starter at guard. If he is, and we hit on an O line pick (or two), it’d mean a world of difference to the offense. Imagine if our backs actually had some space and what could Romo do with a little more time?

  2. JJ says:

    Jonathan

    Solid review. I hate that Buehler missed the PAT as it will put more emphasis on him and not as much as others. We know he is inconsistent but you make GREAT points on his athleticism and ability…I still think he deserves a chance.

    I am trying to decipher what Jerry was saying during his interview with the NFL network. He had Sanders saying “Jerry is going big.” Basically, that he is definitely going Cowher or Gruden. Either way, I will be very unsatisfied if much of the staff is back. Outside of Peete and Sherman, hard to feel like any of them is really showing development of players.

    Funny you mention Lee, I like him and keep wanting him to do well and then, boom, he gets put on his butt. He’ll definitely need to work on that in offseason.

    Regardless of the missed PAT, our defense again shows they are a BAD defense. Kitna was off. We had a 3rd string QB. Holley was playing WR. Colombo was a spinning top. Really, it was a scout team on offense. Yet, they were still in position to win. Then, as we’ve seen almost every game, the opposition says, “OK, let’s win this game!” A few other thoughts as we head to the end.

    Ratliff is either worn down, injured or just not the same. Yes, he gets double teamed at times but not all the time and he’s just not as effective as last year. I hope they evaluate a move to DE for him and that Brent can evolve.

    Igor has a few good plays against the run but you would think he’s making 4 yard tackles for losses based on his dances.

    Brooking is just done. The fact that he is still a staple and know that James is playing his heart out being injured suggests the cupboard is a bit bare at ILB.

    Maybe the starting safeties are just not on the roster today.

    I’m pulling for Choice but starting to come around to the notion that a “complete” back is just not on the roster for the Cowboys. Felix can be special in open space. Can’t see Barber coming back. Choice shows promise but not sure he can measure up to everyone’s expectations. Good not great.

    Perhaps, and one can only hope that Jerry does not butcher this, the best thing about this season is maybe, it took the wool off Jerry’s eyes on his head coach, subpar OLine and porous defense. When he made the comment about no coach has won a Super Bowl with two different teams and he liked “challenges,” I found myself praying…”Please God do not let Jerry make decisions for the challenge rather than what’s best for the team.” He his shown this in the past with Campo/Coslet, Phillips, Gailey, etc. Thinking he has the magic tonic to make something special out of something that was not intended to be. Sort of like a truck. It’s a truck…don’t try to make it limousine. Garrett’s a good coach who could be a staple in Dallas for years. I truly hope that Jerry does not feel the need to cajole someone to come here to sell seats that does not wholly intend on putting in the work and sweat.

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I don’t think Garret lost the game.

    Beuhler didn’t lose it either but he sure had a chance to increase the chances of a win or tie w/ a made PAT. I checked the stats for a few high school (yes, high school) teams in Texas – there were three schools that were perfect on PATs (according to Maxpreps.com): one making 58 of 58. Another was 74 of 75 attempts. Basically, a PAT should be a given – especially in the 4th qtr. There are 35 other kickers in the league that are perfect on PATs – including Wes Welker who is a WR for the Patriots. Beuhler has TWO missed PATs just his year. It’s not the hold and it’s not his leg. Just like you said, Jonathan, it’s in his head. Frankly, I don’t care what the reason is, I feel like Jerry Jones – that is INEXCUSABLE! Period.

    Again, he didn’t lose the game, but his execution should not be w/o consequence. He is valuable in kicking touchbacks (6th in the league w/ 26%) so keep him there and find a field goal kicker.

    One other thing that’s bothering me that wasn’t mentioned here is Marion Barber. Nice run but does he really need to celebrate like he just won the Superbowl, found out his wife was pregnant and won the lottery all at the same time. An excessive celebration penalty – really? I understand that he’s been injured and it’s been some time since he’s seen the end zone and I really am like guys who play w/ emotion but at some point, you gotta start acting like you’ve “been there before.”

    The Cowboys that played last night still lack discipline. That’s why PATs are missed and that’s why 15 yd unsportsman like conduct penalties are called routinely. They just simply lack the discipline necessary to not cause problems for themselves over the simplest of things.

    I don’t know who will coach next year, but it needs to be someone who’s not afraid to instill a type of football where each and every player understand that they will be held accountable for their actions and/or lack of execution.

  4. Fred Goodwin says:

    Insightful analysis as always.

    JG may have made some mistakes in his decision-making, but he didn’t give up a first down on 4th and 15 on the Cards’ critical final drive. If the D makes the stop they should have made, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    We can look forward to nothing but mediocrity until the owner fires the incompetent GM . . .

  5. Scott says:

    Jonathan, love reading your write-ups every week. Jeez, I didn’t mean to write a whole essay here on the freakin kicker, but he actually is kind of fascinating piece of this whole drama of the 2010 Cowboys and a question that has to be resolved for next season.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about Buehler is how do you factor in his value as part of the return coverage unit? He is the only K in the league who really is a ‘football player’ and last season he played on punt coverage units, showing he can be valuable enough to be on the field in coverage even when he isn’t kicking. This season, he’s made 8 or 9 ST tackles (plus a couple assists). Setting aside what that says about our coverage unit otherwise (except to the extent that poor coverage is a result of poor kicking), I find myself wondering how many yards of field position he’s saved through his tackles, or even if one or more of those would have gone for TDs. I can’t remember exactly but I recall a couple early in the season where he may have saved a TD or at least a long return.

    So right now he’s 24 of 31 for 77%, which is near the bottom end of Ks in the league. Throw out the 59 yard attempt vs. the Saints which is a very low % kick anyway (and which he had plenty of leg for and barely missed), and he’d only have to have made two of his other field goals to be over 86%, which would put him in the top half of the league. The line between a good kicker, and average kicker and a poor kicker is only a few kicks, so that is significant, and a couple more kicks made at the right times might have been a couple more games won. Yet you can look at it and say that the difference between what he did and what he would have had to do to be a good, above average kicker is only 6 or 9 points. 7 or 10 points if you throw in this week’s missed FG. So his being a below average kicker cost the team 7-10 points compared to what an average kicker would have done.

    So on the other hand, how many points did he save making tackles in the coverage units? If he prevented even one return TD, that equals the value of 2 FGs and a XP. And there is point value in the hidden yardage he saved on every one of the tackles he made.

    Perhaps the need for him to make tackles in coverage is in part due to his own lack of touchbacks or poor kick placement early in the season, but he seems to have improved greatly in his touchbacks and directional kicking, and the fact remains that with him kicking off, the Cowboys basically have one more fully capable member of their coverage unit than any other team in the league.

    Now I know he could just be a kickoff specialist again and we could get a dedicated FG kicker (who we hope would be above average), but looking at his overall value on the team and weighing it in the equation of having to use an extra active roster spot for another specialist, I think his value in coverage has to factored in. It does seem that one could argue that through his coverage ability he has saved as many points as he has missed in FGs.

    And he has improved slightly over the course of the season. It’s such a small sample size and small difference that it may not be significant, as one more kick made or missed would change everything. But for the first 8 games he was 9/12 for 75%, last 7 games 15/19 for 79%, and if you do give him a pass on a 59-yarder, he has been 15/18 for 83% for the last half of the season, with a game to go. 83% would put him at 16th among Ks who have attempted double digit FGs, right in the middle of the pack, average, among the likes of Gould, Kaeding, Dawson and Mare. So maybe that’s meaningless, but he does seem to have been a little more consistent later in the season.

    He’s definitely improved his touchbacks and kickoff placement later in the season. He is 4th in the league with 21 TBs, and two-thirds of those (14) have come in the last third of the season (5 games). He’s back to 2009 form in that regard.

    So it does seem like he is improving with experience, and with a season of experience and another offseason of practice and training, he could get more consistent in his field goals.

    Then there’s the question of who would you get to replace him as field goal kicker. As inconsistent as he’s been, there are several employed kickers who have struggled worse than he has, including Hartley, last year’s clutch savior, and Folk, who started off in fine pre-2009 form and then collapsed late in the year, returning to his 2009 form. And we know Folk is the perfect example of the fact that you just never know with kickers, you think going into the season you have the most clutch reliable guy, and it turns out not so much.

    I have no problem with the idea of having some competition for the kicking spot, and giving some other guys chances to show consistency and push Buehler, or consider a veteran FA who has a track record. But in order to make it worthwhile to use an extra active roster spot, we’ve got to know that there is a high probability of him being an above-average reliable kicker. It’s easy to say ‘Go get a real kicker,” but that is just not necessarily an easy thing to find, and we’re not the only team looking.

    So in weighing the value of that roster spot, we need to view Buehler’s value as a whole. If we can have a guy who is an average kicker, merely average, in terms of his field goal percentage, but also has a relatively decent chance of booting a 60-yarder in case we needed him to, is among the league leaders in touchbacks, and provides an extra man on the coverage unit like no other team has, overall he’s providing more value to the team than just an average kicker. And he only has to be average in field goal percentage for it to make sense not to carry another kicker.

    Anyway, all this for the kicker lol….. but thanks for reading it, I’d like your take on all that and how you think the coverage aspect of his game should factor into the decision of whether he is the only K needed on the roster.

  6. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Scott, good points but I’m actually surprised Dallas “allows” their kicker to be a main part of the coverage unit. Who kicks if he gets injured?

    Also, I’m not so sure of the value he adds given the few tackles he’s made. Each team will almost always have a “safety” person who lingers behind during coverage as a safety valve to try and run down any returner who breakes through the 1st and 2nd line of tacklers. Usually, for most teams, it’s the kicker. Dallas uses someone else I believe but I don’t know who that is. Given Beuhler’s speed, I would think he’d be more valuable at that position given its safer and he could probably do a better job than most other kickers. Given that, you can now send the current safety guy down the field to cover – hopefully he’s a backup safety or someone who isn’t a crucial to the team given an injury.

    I don’t have a problem w/ a guy missing 50+ yd field goals. In fact, if I were coach and I knew my guy wasn’t good beyond 47 yards or so, then I would game plan to that. My problem w/ Beuhler is his inconsistency from everywhere. He’s 4 for 7 (57 percent) from 30-39 – there are 11 other kickers in the NFL that are 100 percent from that range; many of which have many more kicks than 7. Beuhler is 8 for 11 from 40-49 range which equates to 73 percent. Then, you factor in the 2 missed PATs. In 2 of the last 3 games Dallas has lost (NO, Philly and Az), Beuhler has either missed a FG or PAT (he was perfect vs. Philly).

    I mentioned earlier, Buehler isn’t losing games for the Cowboys but he sure is making it more difficult to win.

    For the defense, when you go up by three, the stress level is lower than when you’re up by two. The defense allowed Az to march down the field into FG range late but this defense hasn’t been all that solid as of late anyway – why have them operate under any more stress than needed. If Beuhler makes that PAT, maybe – just maybe – PP calls some different plays that allow the defense to stop Az. Or better yet, the same defensive plays are called but one of the players, taking advantage of the momentum of the situation, makes a play. Of course, this is all speculation but one thing is for sure – if the PAT is made and Az marches down and gets a FG, they go into OT and it’s anybodys game at that point.

    On the bright side, Dallas is 5-10 and Washington is 6-9. Given that Washington won the head-to-head battle w/ Dalls (they have a greater point differential in their win), Dallas is guaranteed last place in the NFC East, regardless of whether they or Washington wins or loses their next games. This is good because whenever the NFL schedule is made, Dallas will play the lat place teams of the other divisions/conferences when out of division games are played. Thereby making their schedule easier next year. Couple that with top ten placement (some say 6th) in the draft, they should do fairly well. That might equate to 3 (1st, 2nd and 3rd round) picks that might be projected as starters NEXT year.

  7. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    And, rest assured, there will be kickers available on the free agent market next year that might (no way to be sure) kick better than 77% for the year.

    Watch and see.

  8. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Keeping two kickers is “expensive” toward the roster and not having an extra for some other position but IMO it’d have been worth it. Let’s say the Cowboys had kept Nick Folk on the roster. If you look at his stats, he’s 24-27 inside of 39 yards. He’s horrible beyond that. If you assume that the Boys could’ve figured out the limits of Folk’s range, then you have your kickoff specialist cover the longer kicks. Beuhler is just as consistent (or inconsistent) from 40+ as he is inside of 40. And, you’d think he’d do better on kicking/producing touchbacks if he’s not the full time kicker.

    Last year, Dallas had the opportunity to pick up Neil Rackers – he’s 25 for 28 w/ Houston including a 57 yarder and 12 touchbacks (compared to Buehler’s 53 yarder and 1 TB).

  9. Pingback: Cowboys vs. Cardinals Week 16 Film Study Observations | Dallas Cowboys Times

  10. Starred–Exactly. The incompetence of the O-line has made this team look a lot worse than they are. Even an average line would allow these skill players to flourish. If Gurode can play like he has in the second half of the season, Free continues his play, the Cowboys are a good pick and free agent away from a solid O-line.

    JJ–You make a good point about the absence of a complete back, but I do think Choice is the closest. He can do everything well. The difference between Choice and Jones is that Felix can do a few things VERY well. He needs to work on almost nothing but pass pro in the offseason, and if he commits himself to that, he’ll have a big 2011 season.

  11. Tyrone–Thanks for the stats. His touchback stats are good, but unless they are GREAT, I don’t think you can justify keeping him on the roster. Those five guys ahead of him also kick FGs, so he has to get over his problems.

    I didn’t bring up Barber because I knew it would be talked about quite a bit anyway. It was a dumb play, and it cost the team. I think he realizes that’s probably his last TD as a Cowboy, to be honest.

  12. Good point Fred. I talked about that play in my newest post.

  13. Thanks Scott. That’s one hell of a comment..great thoughts. I like your statistical approach to the Buehler problem. It’s difficult to put Buehler’s special teams production into a number.

    In terms of a roster spot, I’ve always thought of him as taking up just half a spot, even if he’s just a specialist. If he only kicks off, he’d play special teams (and be quite good), meaning he really isn’t “wasting” a full roster spot, although I don’t think a special team-only player justifies being counted as a “full” position.

    Overall, I think the accuracy aspect of kicking is far more crucial than anything else. I’d rather have Buehler kick 85 percent and not make a single tackle than 75 and do what he does now. That 10 percent difference might be worth close to 10 points on the season. Is his tackling ability “worth” that? It’s so difficult to tell, but I don’t think so.

  14. Scott says:

    Re Buehler in coverage, I know at least of few of these he was actually down in the thick of the coverage and not just the safety guy, but even if you assume you don’t want to risk him mixing it up in coverage, like you said you do get the value of him playing the safety role and allowing one extra guy in coverage, and wherever he is, for a guy who has to be on the field on that play, he is just a lot more likely to actually make a tackle when needed than any other kicker in the league.

    You’re right that you can’t just look at overall consistency but consistency in the 30s and 40s is crucial. But your earlier point that missing shorter kicks may have more to do with confidence than leg is also valid.

    Looking at the 2011 schedule, it appears the last place finish will mean playing Carolina instead of Tamba Bay, and assuming Minn loses to Philly tomorrow, the loser of next week’s Minn Detroit game. It’s hard to tell a season ahead how much this means since there’s so much churn even within the season much less from season to season in terms of who presents a tough matchup. But Carolina conceivable could be one easier win than TB next year.

  15. Tyrone–Well Buehler hasn’t been on the regular coverage units this season unless he’s kicking. He isn’t a gunner or anything like that. EXCELLENT point, however, about Buehler’s tackles on special teams. He’s used as a safety valve, meaning if he wasn’t back there, it would just be someone else. It isn’t like he’s flying down the field and making tackles like Hurd or Holley.

    Like I said above, I don’t think Buehler would “waste” a full roster spot if he’s a kickoff specialist. He could then play on all special teams units AND be used as a long FG specialist as well (50+ maybe…if need be). He seems to excel from that range, probably because the pressure is somewhat “off” in that he isn’t “supposed” to make those.

  16. Scott–You’re right that you can’t always tell how good a team will be in a season, but I feel confident that Carolina will sitll be pretty awful in 2011. I’d definitely take them over Tampa.

  17. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Seems like we’re all stating the same point various ways…

    Beuhler’s value seems to be in kickoff specialist and possibly as a long range FG kicker, depending on who the actual FG kicker is.

    Barber’s last TD as a Cowboy – honestly, I hadn’t thought of that. Nevertheless, costing your team 15 yds probably solidified his movement. I’m wondering now if he did that on purpose – if he’s cut, JJ has to pay him all of his guaranteed money ($16 million) and can sign on w/ any other team (Patriots, Jets, Steelers, etc.) since he’d be so cheap at that point. Pretty smart of the guy if you ask me.

    Either way, FG kicking has been a sore point for 2 years now. There are FAs that will be available, kickers from the CFL and/or professional soccer leagues not to mention college that are looking to make some NFL $. Buehler was never a good kicker – not even in while at USC. Dallas needs a FG kicker more than they need 25% of their kickoffs to be touchbacks or someone to go and make a few special teams tackles.

  18. john coleman says:

    I got your back JB. I agree with you on the 21-19, two point try. I mean 1-2, 2-4, or 3-6 all yield the same points at the end of the day. Let’s say we went for it at 21-19 and make it, 21-21. Then we get aggressive and go for it again at 27-21 and make it, 29-21. Now the opposition has to have a TD and two. Someone mentioned high school PAT stats and I totally agree that PATs should be automatic. I happened to play for a high school team who never kicked PATs. We went for two every time. Now I know that high school is a far cry from the NFL, but 3 two point conversions equals six everywhere. Going back to your argument JB, maybe we should only kick PATs when it would put us up 4 or 9 in the 4th qtr. What’s wrong with a swashbuckling approach? Jerry always wants a show. So why not give him one?

    The Marion Barber debacle is another sore spot for me. I don’t think it was anything but personal gratification. In other words, LOOK AT ME. He finally runs over somebody like the “Barbarian” used to and acts like a thug. I know I was fired up to see him run like that and feel the team was as well. So if he was trying to fire his team up it was for naught.

    I was pleased with McGhee and hate that we have waited to see what he has to offer. He seems to have some presence and is a gamer. Everytime he has had extended playing time he has risen to the occasion. He is green and simply needs more playing time. Not a world beater by any means, but decent and for your 3rd QB. Definitely not bad in comparison with the other 3′s around the league. In fact, he is already as good as Garrett ever was. He brought us back for what should have been a Staubach like win. That gives me the sense he has a few of the intangibles you look for.

    Finally I must soundoff about Garrett. I liked his initial presence and the way he handled the team and the media. As time wears on I see a quick plateuing of the advancement. I’m feeling as of right now that he is not the guy. Player talent evaluation and playing/not playing guys has me worried. Clock management is a HUGE concern. In general I feel we have personnel to be much more explosive. As far as 4th and 15, the HEAD coach should be feeling good about what we are doing! So no FREE PASS from me even though he is not the d-coordinator. No Young, no Brewster, no Holland, no nothing but status quo. I’m over my initial crush and feel we need a complete overhaul in the coaching staff. Maybe Sherman stays.

  19. JJ says:

    I enjoy reading everyone’s posts. I still maintain that Buehler, while inconsistent, should not be in the top 5 issues. Is it issue, sure but that dude can kick long, tackle and maybe with some competition, he can become a quality FG kicker. Let’s not compare him to the best in the NFL. After all, there is at least 3 Cowboys castoffs kicking for other clubs right now.

    As for Garrett, he’s close to the vest and shows nothing in terms of what he really thinks and we don’t know his ability to gauge talent but he inherited a mess. So Cowher and Gruden are better options? The goal is the find the best coach for the Cowboys and their structure. I think Garrett has done pretty well. How good he just come in and reshape the defense as an interim guy when the D was already leery of him? I think we’re all drinking the KOOL-AID thinking the Cowboys are better than they are….really? They lost Dez. Barber stunk it up. For some reason, they limited choice. Bennett is still a untapped potential and Austin is up and down. They lose Romo and still gain more points, win and lose games close. Not to mention that the OLine underperformed, at least on the right side of the line. Pretty impressive.

    The Cowboys really lose because their defense is just plain bad. Ware is a stud but the secondary is in shambles, although I really liked how Scandrick picked it up, the starting ILB are old or hurt, the DEs are really just vanilla and Ratliff, Spencer and Jenkins fell off…just a poor defense. That’s on Wade and Jerry. We need attitude on D and it will not come from this staff.

    Finally, outside of just wanting to “see” what Young can do, it’s hard to argue that other lineman should be playing. They know what they have in Barron, Holland and Brewster (whom they released and then resigned to practice squad…no one wanted him). The issue is they really stink in assessing OLine talent and DEVELOPING that talent. Ask yourself this question, what group has improved the most? I’d submit WR..hat’s off Coach Sherman. Maybe special teams improved after a horrendous start..great job coach Joe. Offense picked up…Great job Coach Garrett…beyond that…not so much.

    Personnel and developing that personnel. That’s all i care about this off season. Fix the defense and OLine and then I will worry about kicker.

  20. moses says:

    Agree with the 2 point conversion. I don’t understand the logic behind the PAT. You took the lead 20-19. A 2 pointer would give you a 3 pt lead and a FG ties you and doesn’t beat you. If you miss, you are still in the same boat. A FG will beat you.

    I agree about Lee. He seems to get pushed around a bit too much. He plays with little leverage. On a couple of plays I thought he was a DB the way he was pushed out of the hole. I expected more from a 2nd rounder.

    I think that JJones was depending on Lee being a real difference maker and the fast safety being a contributor.

    I think Buehler is improving. Of course, it took a while and cost us a few games, but oh well. We should at least evaluate him next season and get some competition in there as well. Other than a few starters on both sides of the ball, I think all of the slots should be an open competition.

  21. Thanks John. I am still giving Garrett a chance right now. I do think he’s still improving, which is key. You’re right that clock management needs to improve CONSIDERABLY. There is no sense of urgency in certain situations, and that should have been installed by Garrett when he was just an OC.

  22. JJ–Agree that WR have improved the most in recent years, and I do like Sherman. Barber may not be a top five concern because it’s a virtual certainty he’ll be gone after the season. Felix/Choice are fine IMO, though, so the RB position isn’t a major concern. The Cowboys need to do a lot of different things on defense as far as personnel is concerned, but I think a shift in philosophy (to a more aggressive scheme) is the top priority.

  23. VINCE GREY says:

    I’m just not into blaming one person, be they coach or player, for a loss. Especially a game with interceptions, stupid penalties, and crappy defense. Call me old school, but it’s a team game. The missed EP was bad, but who’s to say the Cards don’t score a TD in the end rather than a FG? They only needed a FG, and so played for that chance rather than push for a TD. And, even if they do just make the kick to tie, that only means the game goes on. Bottom line, the D needed a stop and failed miserably, as it has so many times this season.

    I have ZERO faith in this defense. Garrett can stay IMO, and the offense, with some O-line tweaks and maybe another power back to replace Barber, is fine, but the defense needs some major work, and that includes the coaches.

    I suppose the good news is now we’ll have some high picks in the draft rounds to work with.

  24. VINCE GREY says:

    BTW, in my annual “NFL Pro Bowl selections are a bad joke” rant, just saw where Andre Gurode was voted in. Again. As a starter, no less.

    That’s not just a joke, that’s insane. If Andre’s one of the two best centers the NFC has to offer, then Lord help the NFC.

    Ratliff’s selection, again as a starter, is almost as bad. Jay had a poor year. D Ware had a bad year for him, and I wouldn’t have picked him, but I guess it’s a close enough call for some debate. I’m fine with McBriar as the punter.

    IMO, only the NFL’s All Pro voting has any real legitimacy.

  25. Hey Vince–I agree no single player or coach can ever be SOLELY responsible for a loss, but there are a few plays every game that, had they gone the other way, would have reversed the outcome. Garrett’s decision was one of them.

    And you’re definitely right on Gurode. He’s definitely improved over the second half of the season, but that’s another example of how it takes an O-Lineman a couple years of good play to get in (and a few years of poor play to leave).

  26. Pingback: Philadelphia Eagles: On Chip Kelly and 2-Point Conversions | Local Philadelphia News Aggregator

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