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Mailbag: In-Game Decisions? Red Zone Issues?


So, the trend in the press on Monday was overwhelmingly that the Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders, but Mike McCarthy is the only one to derail them. Why is he getting so much bad press for his poor game management? Is it really that bad? — JENNIFER ROMAGE / REDLANDS, CA

David: I think people get frustrated by what looks like a lack of consistency. It's hard to decipher the rhyme or reason behind McCarthy's decisions on when to be aggressive or when to play it safe. With Jason Garrett, you could almost always set your watch to the conservative decision, whereas with McCarthy we just don't seem to know what we're going to get. Another part of it is simply that you're going to take the criticism for decisions that don't work when you're the head coach. I do think the Cowboys have been lucky not to be bitten by some of those decisions this season, but I'd also prefer McCarthy to be aggressive whenever possible. So I guess what I'm saying is I'm willing to take a few hiccups along with all of the good that comes from that mindset.

Nick: Honestly, who are you gonna blame? I kind of think it's the world we live in with talk radio and even constant podcasts like ours. Five-game winning streak with an offense that is rolling in every way. The defense is overachieving and getting turnovers. Even the special teams blocked a punt. I really think some people find ways to scratch their head at stuff. Yeah there's been a few moments when we might've called something different. But at some point, we're gonna realize that you don't win five straight games making bad decisions every time. I'm not trying to defend every call he makes. Of the 5-6 questionable moves from Sunday, I only agreed with a couple of them. Yeah, maybe at some point things aren't going to work out. I agree with your statement, and I'd be willing to accept the hiccups, too.

Why does it seem that the Cowboys are so poor at short yardage or goal line plays? They seem to be especially poor when they go jumbo formations and try to run. Even when the running game is otherwise rolling these woes seem to continue. — VINCENT RICHARDSON / MOBILE, AL

David: The red zone offense isn't where they want it to be, Kellen Moore said so himself Monday night. It's interesting, because the Cowboys actually converted an impressive 9-of-11 red zone opportunities in the three wins against L.A., Philly, and Carolina, but they were just 4-of-10 against New York and New England. To be fair to Moore, some of that is execution more so than play calling, in my opinion. This is still an offense that's averaging 34 points per outing, so I'm not panicking about it. But you'd like to see some better performance there, now doubt.

Nick: This is nothing new. The offensive line has been good for the most part, but they don't exactly push people around. And that's always the problem in short-yardage and especially in the red zone where the passing game doesn't have a full field to operate. The interior of the line might be young and rather athletic but they don't whip people up front. These tight ends can run and catch and are willing blockers, but they're not moving people off the ball either. But you can't have it all. This offense is dynamic for the same reasons they're not exactly mauling teams in the red zone.

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