For whatever reason in 2012, Jason Garrett's offense looked very flat in the first half of games. The lack of talent on the offensive line and losing DeMarco Murray handicapped what Garrett could call, but Garrett finally let his quarterback open up in the second half of games. During the second half of the season, especially after the first half of games, the Dallas Cowboys' offense really looked like a potent attack.
The offense really began to look dangerous because of the adjustments made by Garrett. While Garrett really made strides this season adjusting in the second half, that just wasn't the case against the Washington Redskins. From the beginning of the game, the Cowboys could not execute and they did not look energized on offense. Garrett's game plan was vastly ineffective against Jim Haslett's defense.
During his tenure in Dallas, Garrett's playcalling has always been under the microscope and heavily scrutinized. After the way his offense played against the Redskins, you can really make a case for Garrett not being able to adjust to what Haslett and the Redskins were doing.
The all-out blitzes that Haslett called were never countered with screen passes, draws or slants. Garrett also didn't use routes designed to attack the middle of the field, which was left wide open by the Redskins relying on A-Gap blitzes. When Jim Haslett played his cornerbacks nearly 10-15 yards off the Dallas wide receivers, the Cowboys never went to a hot route or adjusted their routes according to what the defense was giving them.
Instead of adjusting, Dallas continually ran deep routes down the field, or routes to the sidelines, playing right into Haslett's game plan and giving the Redskins exactly what they wanted. When you become predictable, the outcome can easily be decided. The only adjustments made by Dallas were when they went to a max-protection, which at times during the game did offer some stability for Tony Romo in the pocket, but it really didn't matter because the pressure up the middle was consistent all night long.
Make no mistake about it, the Cowboys were outplayed, but Jason Garrett was really outcoached.
While a lot of the blame can be placed on Romo's turnovers, wide receivers not getting open and a poor offensive line, you have to throw some of the fire at Garrett for not changing his strategy in the biggest game of the season. I think it's safe to assume that Garrett's head coaching job is safe, but the Cowboys may consider offering him some help with the offense.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Cowboys may bring in an offensive coordinator.
"The Cowboys intend to keep Jason Garrett, I have not this morning that that has changed," Rapoport told NFL Network's "Around The League" on Monday. "A better possibility is that the Cowboys could hire an offensive coordinator to call plays for Jason Garrett and allow him to be a walk-around coach and essentially just be the leader of men that they think he can be."
If this is true, then it is a very good decision by Jerry Jones and the front office. Clearly Garrett has a great offensive mind, but he has the potential to become a very good head coach. Garrett is going to have trouble living up to that potential because he has a lot on his plate right now.
Garrett took a sinking ship after Wade Phillips was fired and turned that into a hungry and motivated team. This season he battled through so much adversity that it looked like he wouldn't be in Dallas for too much longer, but he really united the team. His approach not only motivated his players to make an attempt at a playoff run, his team always fights and leaves everything out there on the field.
Just because he and his team had a terrible game doesn't mean that Garrett cannot be a good leader. While not everyone is going to agree, I believe that Garrett is a leader of men.
The past few seasons, the idea of adding an offensive coordinator has been a very popular topic on BTB. Bill Callahan technically has that title, but Garrett still called the plays this season. It's worth considering bringing in an established offensive mind because that allows Garrett to take care of the bigger picture, but it would also allow Callahan to focus and devote all of his time on coaching the offensive line.
In the next couple of weeks, the candidates will begin to become available. One name who has been suggested before is former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner. Because of his history with Jerry Jones, Turner will be a very popular candidate for the offensive coordinator position. After all, it was Turner who gave Garrett and the Cowboys the tip about Laurent Robinson.
Obviously there is a connection there, but Turner also runs a very similar offense to Garrett's. Turner brought the "Air Coryell" offense with him to Dallas when he was offensive coordinator from 1991-1993. Ernie Zampese mentored and taught Turner the Coryell system during their time together with the Los Angeles Rams. When Turner received a head coaching job from the Redskins, Zampese was the ideal replacement for the Cowboys to hire. During his time as Troy Aikman's backup, Garrett learned and came to love that attacking offense.
With Turner on the job market, he could be back for another run in Dallas. It's early, but it makes sense for the Cowboys to start with Turner. The Cowboys may ultimately decide that Garrett doesn't need help running the offense, but it may be a great decision to lighten the load for Jason Garrett. This is a game that requires every edge you can get. Having another offensive mind with years of experience might be a wise investment for a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2009.