Our parent company, SB Nation, asked this question about our team. What is the one thing you would change about this season for your team?
That’s pretty broad and you could go into the fantastical realm like “I would have not lost any of the games the Cowboys lost.” Or you could say: change the outcome of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. Or say: we’d make “player x” not get hurt. But we took it as something that was really in the Cowboys control. A personnel decision, a botched play, a play-call, a coaching decision, etc.
As an example, what would have happened if Ryan Switzer hadn't dropped that punt against the Rams? The Cowboys were rolling in that game, and suddenly all the momentum changed. A victory then would sure help the Cowboys playoff hopes at this point.
You can come up with plenty of scenarios like this, but we’re going to go with one that not only lost a game, but might have damaged the team for a few more games. It could have been the most crucial decision the Cowboys made that was in their control all year.
The Cowboys insistence on playing Chaz Green at left tackle for the injured Tyron Smith in the game against the Falcons, then giving him absolutely no help, even after it was obvious he was getting destroyed. Not only did this decision lose that game, but the Cowboys were not the same team for the next few games. Only now do they seem to have recovered from that calamity.
We’ll break it down from micro to macro.
- The Cowboys lost a game which hurt their playoff quest, but they also lost a tie-breaker against the Falcons, something they would love to have right now. Sure, they might have lost even if they had helped Chaz Green some, or played Byron Bell, but that is not a given. The Cowboys actually led 7-0 in that game, and were only down 10-7 at halftime. But as the sacks piled up, and the Cowboys coaches stood idly by as Adrian Clayborn was temporarily elevated to Hall of Fame status, the Cowboys defense finally broke, and with no help from the offense, the game turned into a rout.
- The Cowboys offensive hangover from that game carried over to the next couple of contests. Dak Prescott looked like a different player after running for his life against the Falcons and getting hit at every turn. This decision could still be haunting the team. I’ll let the great OCC take over:
The dumbest coaching decision of the year: not giving Chaz Green any help in the Atlanta game. I think that decision sparked a crisis of confidence in the coaching decisions by the players, and with it a crisis in the confidence the offense used to have in itself.
I don't think it's a coincidence that that single decision marked the beginning of a three-game stretch in which the offense scored just 22 combined points as everything seemed out of kilter on an offense that had scored an average of 28.3 points per game in the first 8 games, and has scored 29.3 points on average after that three-game stretch.
And perhaps just as bad, that decision may have also completely destroyed Chaz Green's confidence, which in turn may have led to the Cowboys overplaying an already injured Tyron Smith, who now looks to be out for a while with an LCL strain.
3. The Cowboys coaches not only botched it in this game, but for some reason they insisted on playing Chaz Green early in the year at left guard, when Jonathan Cooper appeared to be playing better in their preseason battle. Plus, Green is constantly injured. This delayed Cooper’s development with the rest of the offensive line; nothing helps an offensive line more than reps together and learning how each other play.
For all of this, the decision to play Chaz Green in the Atlanta game, then giving him no help, is the one thing we’d love to change about the season.
What’s yours? Try to keep it in the realm of reality instead of flights of fancy.