The amount of disgust over this game that was supposed to be meaningless is immeasurable. There really is no valid excuse for how this game was lost; offense, defense and special teams were all largely responsible for coming up so small. The offense started the game off with two crucial mistakes that good teams don't make. A pick-six where Kitna threw well behind a slipping Miles Austin was immediately followed by a ball slightly behind Roy Williams who couldn't haul in a catchable ball. That was taken to the house by Arizona as well. Dallas crept back into the game, save for an unforgivable defensive (lack of) effort by Mike Jenkins on a 74-yard bomb to previously unknown Andre Roberts. It all left us pondering, what kind of offseason will we be enduring? Here are the Top 5 things I'm left to wonder.
5) I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this, maybe you guys can weigh in. Down 21-10 in the 3rd quarter, during a 5-9 season where a lack of effort got their first coach canned, why were there so many shots of Cowboys yucking it up on the sidelines?
I really don't know which way to lean on this. On one hand, the team was able to come back from that deficit, so you can attribute that to staying loose. On the other hand, the team continues to make mental mistakes like... I don't know.. missing extra points, and the defense continues to fold on potential game-clinching drives. Does the meaning lie nowhere, everywhere or somewhere in between?
4) What was Jerry Jones thinking with that pre-game interview on the NFL Network? This was on the heels of the now infamous 60 Minutes interview where he revealed that he thinks he made a deal with God for his third Lombardi and he would have to figure out a way to sell The Big Guy on a fourth trophy. Continue to the jump for some highlights.
(Q&A are not exact quotes, truncated for transcription ease)
Has Jason Garrett already showed you enough to merit removing the interim tag?
Jason has a lot of family members in the organization... he certainly has exceeded expectations.
What went wrong with the 2010 season?
We started thinking about here we go again, with the negative. I don't believe in halftime speeches. Unquestionably our defense in a couple games sucked the life out of us. My dream was Wade would deliver a SB caliber defense.
Hypothetically, take us through the impact of the Rooney Rule?
In order to make a coaching change, you have to go through the process of interviewing qualified candidates, unless someone has the ‘successor' clause in their contract. The Cowboys will unquestionably go through that process.
From what you've seen of Garrett, can you evaluate him?
We can see how smart he is... articulate... he has exceeded my expectations. He has the organizational ability. He has the football instincts... no doubt he has the skills to be an NFL head coach. The question would be when, the facts are he has only had 5 games as a head coach in his life (any level). We don't have time to have a bad time with the Dallas Cowboys. We need to hit the ground running, next year, this has been too much of a disappointment this year. So that's the thing that I'll be thinking about, is that experience factor.
Ummmm, what? Jason Garrett's lack of experience will be the determining factor? Jerry, you didn't know he had never been a head coach when you gave him $3 million a year to not go coach Baltimore?
What about organizationally, how do you evaluate yourself? A lot of people feel it's difficult for you to evaluate your organization because you and your family members are the ones making the decisions.
That's fair, I understand that critique. I knew George Steinbrenner, he never fired himself. He was more qualified than I am. If you spend most of your life, literally working for yourself, than the mirror is the thing you have to get straight. And you gotta do some changing, you gotta reevaluate and rethink. And we're at that particular time.
Is it possible that you'll hire someone else to shop for the groceries?
No, I'll shop the groceries, seriously, 'cause I got to eat em. And by the way, Bill (Parcells) and I shopped the groceries when we were there. I think the decision making process that we get to enjoy with the Cowboys, is a very positive thing. I would never dream it would be this long before we won another super bowl.
Jon Gruden? Any guys come to mind? Bill Cowher? Talk to anybody Jerry?
You know one thing that's interesting. I'm a big believer of a challenge. Doing something that's never been done before. You know, there's never been a head coach that won a SB with one team, that won it with another? Never. A Super Bowl.
Wait, your saying that the one piece of empirical evidence there is about rehiring Super Bowl winning coaches, and the only thing you take out of that damning stat is a challenge to prove history wrong?
3) How exactly is our running back time share decided?
We've been talking all season how Marion Barber is supposedly done; Tashard Choice and Felix Jones should get all the snaps. MB should get released during the offseason. In Week 16, Barber's skill set seemed to be the most influential. His pass blocking was the best we've seen from the position in weeks (eye test only). Does Garrett have a framework going into the game? Does he believe in the hot-hand philosophy? I can't for the life of me decipher that decision process.
2) Has there been a greater enigma this season than Anthony Spencer? Here's the first defensive series of the game:
1st and 10- Arizona lines up with three in the backfield. Hightower gets first carry, starts left then comes back off right tackle, Spencer peels off his blocker with ease and swallows him up for a gain of only one yard
2nd and 9, Cards go four-wide, three to the left and run a screen pass to the inside slot receiver Roberts. Spencer, standing up on the line between Ratliff and Hatcher, diagnoses the play perfectly and pursues Roberts to the sideline and holds him to a gain of 5.
3rd and 4, pass to the right side through the hands of Jim Dray, Jenkins almost comes up with a pick, Spencer on the left not involved in the play.
Brilliant start, right? Precursor of a dominant game, right? Spencer finished the remaining 58 minutes with only three more tackles, multiple whiffs and more importantly, multiple misdiagnoses. I remember thinking, Spencer is going to have his 2010 breakout game. Now I wonder what the hell I was thinking.
1) Do other Cowboys fans think the same things as I do when watching the games?
I don't have too many real life friends that are fans of the Cowboys. I don't get to converse at a high level during the games, as it's hard to take notes and participate in the game day threads at the same time. Here are some random musings from the game, I wonder if you all noticed them too?
- Are Marc Columbo and Leonard Davis even trying anymore this season?
- Do the referees get bonuses for ignoring obvious infractions by the Cowboys opposition? The Martellus Bennett facemask, the two non-PI calls where Austin was impeded after Zona missed that field goal... amongst many more this season.
- Jason Witten scored on Garrett's favorite goal line play again. I've seen it at least 5 times now. Drag route by the TE to the front corner while the WR runs a fade to the back pylon. It's worked every single time so far.
Babrer gets extensive runs before Choice?
What was that by Mike Jenkins(on the Roberts TD)? Seriously, what in the world? Side note, what a horrible broadcasting team, they haven't mentioned once the pathetic coverage by Jenkins in five minutes of replays. They want to highlight the block by Beanie Wells.
- DeMarcus Ware has a chance for a huge sack, but doesn't put a lick on John Skelton. With Skelton at 6'6, he just bounces off and heads upfield for a big gain. I love DeMarcus, but does he ever try to inflict pain?
Seriously? You're singing in the booth Matt Millen?
- As David Beuhler lines up for the big kick, my girl asks, what's that on his lip? I tell her it's a fake light brown mustache, he's undercover as a 70's porn star. She dismisses it as a caterpillar. Huge kick by Beuhler, as he nails a 53-yarder . My girlfriends response, "I still don't trust a guy that looks like that" Rut roh...
- Finally with the lead 26-24... What kind of defense is Pasqualoni calling- he doesn't realize that the Cardinals are running the ball? Wait, does Pasqualoni have a pulse?