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Cowboys News & Notes: Will Coaching Again Be An Issue Against Packers?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys' short-yardage woes are on the coaching tactics; Packers don't fear blitz from Cowboys; Garrett doesn't believe Darren McFadden has hit a wall.

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Sturm: Short-yardage woes are on the coaching tactics - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
In a recent chat with fans, Sturm suggests that the issue with the Cowboys in short-yardage situations is lack of creativity in playcalling.

I think that basically they are not creative and rely too much on the players all winning simultaneously. I think the idea of not having Dez on the field is absurd and the idea that QB or FB have no chance of being the runner is also odd. So, essentially, when they bring on 23 personnel, they are telegraphing that it is a middle dive to the TB, McFadden.

In fact, they didn't even have Escobar on when they were in 23. I am sorry, he can't do much, but at his height, he has to be a consideration on 3rd and 1. But not if he is on the sideline. So, I would say my biggest issue on 3rd and short is the coaching tactics.

Jerry Jones says he ‘respects’ coaching staff, losses have been ‘joint effort’ - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
After the Redskins game, Jones said the Cowboys "won on will, not tactical mastery," and was also critical of team's inability to win at least a couple games without Tony Romo. On Friday, Jones tried to clarify his comments, saying he "respects" the coaching staff and Garrett’s ability to get his players to compete at their highest level.

Over the seven-game losing streak without Romo, five of them were one-possession losses, which is a credit to the coaching staff.

"That’s coaching and that creates the kind of will and the kind of competitiveness that we’re seeing on this team and that we saw the other night against Washington," Jones said. "But you would have thought that the edge gives you an opportunity to win at least half of those games that were just right at the wire and that marginal. And, so, I think I used the word ‘hope.’ But I would have hoped, thought. I’m disappointed. I hate to use the word ‘flip of the coin,’ ‘luck,’ those kinds of things.

"But I have a lot of respect for this coaching staff."

"If you want to look at any aspect of this team, you can say, well, if we had been in better shape, had you had Matt Cassel in the spring rather than Weeden, and it is but I’m not trying to knock Weeden, but if we had had a guy like Cassel in here then we might have made a difference there," Jones said. "So put that one ultimately on my shoulders for sure. So, it’s a joint effort when we are basically talking about anything that has to do with winning a football game."

Why Jerry Jones' post-MNF criticism of Jason Garrett, coaching staff was 'surprising' - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Cowlishaw thinks Jones' comments were surprising not necessarily for their substance but for their timing, coming after a win. But he puts the finger in the wound with this assessment:

"Because in those seven games without Romo, six of them they were ahead or tied in the fourth quarter," Cowlishaw said. "You've gotta find a way to win two of those games. You do that, you're in first place by yourself."

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Packers don't fear blitz from Cowboys - Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Packers are not worried about the Cowboys blitzing.

"We prefer when people blitz us," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think our quarterback rating and production under pressure reflects that. We've gone back and dig up pressures in the past when you run into a coordinator that may not have shown a lot of blitzes to that point."

The recipe for beating the Packers hasn't been to blitz Rodgers, but rather be aggressive in another way. Defenses have been playing press coverage against his receivers and bringing up a safety to the line of scrimmage to either threaten the blitz or support the run.

Because Rodgers is escaping the pocket so well it probably doesn't pay to blitz him much. Teams would rather roll the dice that he won't find anyone open with seven defenders in coverage than pressure him and risk him running for first downs.

Cowboys and Packers meet in crunch time, minus some luster - Genaro Armas, News & Observer
Going into the season, the Week 14 matchup between the 12-4 Packers and 12-4 Cowboys in Week 14 looked to be one of the highlights of the late schedule in the NFL. How things have changed, for both teams.

The Cowboys (4-8) are still chasing a title in the mediocre NFC East even without injured quarterback Tony Romo. The Packers (8-4) needed a desperation touchdown pass to beat Detroit and avoid another week of consternation over an inconsistent offense.The Hail Mary pass lifted the Packers' spirits. But Green Bay realizes the improbable victory didn't solve its issues with the ball.

The Packer need more out of the running game. They need to get their offensive line healthy in order to keep Rodgers clean and upright. They need Rodgers and his receivers to play a consistent 60 minutes in the passing game.

Packers scouting report: Cowboys need to contain Randall Cobb - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Sturm argues that containing Cobb may be enough to slow an already shaky Packers offense enough.

Without Nelson, Cobb has had his moments from his usual spot in the slot, but teams have used more bracket coverage to keep him from shaking loose and have kept his yards per reception down at 11.5 after two seasons over 14.

Still, Cobb is a dangerous player who can hurt an opponent in many ways. Last year against Dallas in the playoffs, the Packers turned their offensive fortunes around by inserting him at running back for much of the second half. Dallas never slowed that personnel grouping down.

3 things to watch: Packers vs. Cowboys - Weston Hodkiewicz, Wisconsinrapidstribune.com
According to this article, one of the three things to watch is the status of Eddie Lacy, who's had an up-and-down season and blew a curfew recently.

It’s likely the Packers will start veteran James Starks like they did in Detroit, but McCarthy gave every indication this week that Lacy will get a chance to regain his touches during the final stretch of the season. This is the second time this year the Packers have downshifted on Lacy, whose conditioning has been heavily discussed. A week ago, Lacy admitted his season has been "a roller coaster."

With rain in the forecast, it will be important to establish the run early. Whatever opportunities come Lacy’s way, he needs to do the most with them. "He’s had two good days of practice," McCarthy said Friday. "We potentially may have a wet Sunday, so we did the wet ball drills and things like that (Thursday). We’ve got to take care of the football. We’ve got to do a better job than we have the last two times we’ve lined up."

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Garrett doesn't believe Darren McFadden has hit a wall - Dan Hanzus, NFL.com
McFadden was unable to surpass 55 yards rushing in three of Dallas' last four games, which has raised some questions about whether he's fallen into a slump. No way, Jose, says Garrett.

"I don't notice that at all," coach Jason Garrett said, via ESPN.com. "I don't notice him slowing down or not being able to do the things physically that we're asking him to do. He's had some good games for us. He's had some games where he's been less productive."

"I think it's probably new for him to carry the ball as much, but he's certainly capable of doing it," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "I'm not concerned about a wall or anything like that. I just think as we get through the year, our expectation is our backs are going to get a good dose of carries."

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Machota: I'd be surprised if Cowboys don't draft a QB - Jon Machota, SportsDay
In a chat with fans on Friday, Machota offered up his take on what the Cowboys QB situation could look like next year.

Question: Is Matt Cassel the backup next year or do they try someone else?

Jon Machota: I see Cassel as a possibility. I think the Cowboys carry three QBs next year. Romo, the backup (possibly Cassel) and a player they draft. I'm not saying they'll necessarily use a first or second round pick, but I'd be surprised if they don't select one at some point. They need someone to build around for the future and I don't see how they can wait much longer.

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Matt Cassel: Jason Witten is "one heck of a player but he's a better teammate." - SportsDay Staff
Cassel recently joined 103.3 FM, and one of the things he talked about was Jason Witten.

Question: Did you know your second completion to Jason Witten the other night was the 1,000th of his career?

Matt Cassel: I had no idea until after the game. I'm completely honored to be able to throw him that. I've been around a lot of guys and I've never been around a guy who's so special as Jason Witten. The type of character this guy has; the professional that he is. How he goes about his business each and every day. He's one heck of a player but he's a better teammate.