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Do The Cowboys Need To Simplify Their Gameplans?

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The Cowboys are scoring twice as many points in the second half as they are in the first half. That's got to be a reason for concern.


In the first half of the 10 games played so far this season, the Dallas Cowboys have scored a grand total of 70 points, or seven points per game in the first two quarters. That's the third lowest total in the NFL. Only the awful Chiefs (60 points) and the putrid Eagles (51 points) have scored less points in the first half than the Cowboys.

But here's the kicker: In the second half, the Cowboys have scored 141 points so far this season, the sixth best value in the NFL. Juxtaposing these two sets of numbers inevitably raises some serious questions about how the Cowboys' prepare and execute their gameplans.

In the first half of games, the Cowboys for the most part are executing the gameplan put together by the coaching staff during the previous week. And that's a problem, because it's not working. Yet the coaching staff appears to stick with the plan regardless, at least for the first tow quarters. This is so obvious that even fans of opposing teams are picking up on it, as this damning quote from shows:

The Cowboys knew prior to the pre-game warm ups that the Browns' defensive secondary was pretty suspect and that's with a completely healthy Joe Haden. Once Haden showed up in Arlington dressed more for raking leaves than doing battle with Dez Bryant, the Cowboys should have been lighting up the scoreboard. They didn't. It was almost as if they wanted to prove that they could beat the Browns by deliberately playing to their weaknesses rather than their strengths, such as they are.

If I was Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones during his post-season meeting when he fires Garrett because the Cowboys again missed the playoffs, he should walk him through the first half of Sunday's game each painful second at a time so that Garrett understands that instead of trying to establish a run game that they don't have he should have had quarterback Tony Romo throwing on damn near every play. The worst thing you can do is let an inferior team believe it can play you straight up, but that's exactly what Garrett and the Cowboys did by strangely ignoring exactly what they were being given in the passing game.

Perhaps the Cowboys were guilty of schedule-watching and simply underestimated the Browns. But probably not. The fact that this has been going on virtually all season suggests that the issue runs deeper.

Birddog26, our resident scout here on BTB, pointed out that the Cowboys usually start a game with a plan that involves 25 to 30 different plays. The passing plays in this plan call for receivers to make reads giving them options of up to 8 different routes.

When that doesn't work as planned, and the Cowboys start falling behind on the scoreboard, they have repeatedly gone to a simplified 4 minute offense with a double read option for the receivers. This simplifies the game for the receivers and for Tony Romo, it limits the time the O-line has to make mistakes and is conducive to conducting a hurry-up offense.

The beauty of the Cowboys' multiple option gameplan is that it is almost undefendable if executed correctly. The problem with the plan is that the 2012 Cowboys have a hard time executing anything correctly. Simple math tells you that a receiver will have better odds of chosing the correct route out of only two options than if he has eight to chose from.

From the outside looking in, it's obvious that whatever the Cowboys are doing in the first half of games isn't working very well, and whatever they're doing in the second half is.

If we take the Pythogorean Formula and apply it to the points scored and allowed in the first half (70-106) and second half (141-118), the Cowboys are playing like a 4.4-win team in the first half and a 9.7-win team in the second half of games. That's a pretty significant difference, and a strong indictment of the Cowboys' gameplanning.

We've all repeatedly heard about how the Cowboys are slow starters, how the Cowboys will take what the opponent gives them, how Garrett likes to give Romo a feel for the opposition first, or how JG tries to "establish his offense". Well, today I'm not allowing any of those excuses. Today it's about gameplanning.

At some point in the season, and sitting at 5-5 after ten games would be a good such point, you've got to realize what your team can and cannot do. And then react accordingly. Fact is that the Cowboys are scoring twice as many points in the second half as they are in the first half. Only the Eagles have a more lopsided ratio between the two halves.

Perhaps the coaching staff should do their halftime adjustments before the game?