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Postgame Mailbag: 4th Quarter Playcalls Too Conservative?

Posted Oct 27, 2013


CHASE SIMMONS
ROCKWALL, TX

Does Jason Garrett put too much emphasis on taking away the other team’s timeouts and not enough on getting first downs at the end of halves? It seems outdated as a philosophy.

Nick: If it's outdated, I guess I'm too old. I think that's exactly what you have to do. It doesn't matter about the yards. Honestly, I thought they should've run simple plays up the middle and then on fourth down run the clock down and take the penalty to give me more room to punt. I was never thinking about a field goal. It was going to be three runs and punt. You can make the argument that he wasn't conservative enough. On the drive before, if they run it instead of a bad pass to Beasley, game over.

Rowan: I think he tends to take the conservative approach in those situations, one that many coaches would adopt. It’s hard to say it’s all on him though, being that he’s not calling the plays. Still, he has the ability to make the final decisions. Just hours removed from the game and still processing it, I have less of a problem with the running out of the clock on the final possession than I do with the previous possession, running two draws out of shotgun and then deciding to throw on third-and-12, resulting in an incompletion.

David: I appear to be in the minority, but I thought it was far too conservative. The strengths of the offense are a veteran quarterback with good accuracy and a freakishly athletic receiver who is hard to cover. You essentially took the game out of their hands and gave it to a rookie running back and a good-not-great offensive line. I get that they wanted to make the Lions use their timeouts, but why not just move the sticks and make that issue irrelevant?

 

JACK WEST
SAN ANTONIO, TX

Is it fair to say now that even with the addition of Brandon Carr and the drafting of Morris Claiborne and the advancement of Barry Church that the Cowboys’ secondary is still costing them games?

Nick: No that's not fair to say. You're mad and frustrated because the best wide receiver in football had a great day. But seriously, you don't want to hear excuses but at some point, you can't play with rag-tag players off the street. You had to know the lack of pass rush and experience in the secondary would catch up to them. And don't forget Carr has won some football games for this team, including this year.

Rowan: Well, only two of the three of those names were even healthy enough to be on the field for that final drive. And up until the fourth quarter, the Cowboys’ defense allowed just seven points. Carr couldn’t handle Calvin Johnson alone, though he was left to for most of the game, Claiborne hasn’t performed to the level many had hoped with injuries playing a large role in that and Church is still working to get where he needs to be in pass coverage. They weren’t great early in the season but seemed to pick it up the two games before seeing the Lions. The secondary was by no means strong Sunday, but if they make a stop at the end, we’re probably not discussing it. And two of the three guys you named weren’t out there when it happened.

David: It’s always going to be embarrassing when you give up that many yards to one receiver. I’m honestly not putting this on the secondary though. Heath and Church combined to force two fumbles, and Carr had a nice fumble return. By no means am I saying they played great, but the defense gave the offense four turnovers, and the offense repaid them with 268 total yards.

 

ANDY MORALLER
WHITEHOUSE STATION, NJ

We are well into the season. Is it safe to say “Same old Cowboys?”

Nick: Yes, it's safe. They've been average for two years. They've been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and now 4-4. Of course you can say that. There's no other way to describe it. They're one-dimensional on offense, can't run the ball, give up big plays on defense and have trouble getting consistent pressure. Same issues, same problems, same teams, different year.

Rowan: Until proven otherwise, yes. Now, instead of a team that holds opponents to few yards but can’t create turnovers, they’re allowing a ton of yards and creating lots of turnovers. But the same results are coming. Until they break out of the .500 rut, it’s hard for them to shake that mantra. They continue to lose many of the close ones the best teams can pull out.

David: Yup. It’s a fair criticism. This is a team that has the ability to beat anyone in the league. At the same time, it’s a team capable of losing to anyone – and often in the most unimaginable ways. That is the definition of mediocre.

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