It was an agonizing loss for the Cowboys and people are demanding answers for some curious coaching decisions. Coach Jason Garrett met with the press to try and explain just what the team was thinking. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Benefit of running the ball late when it’s been ineffective
Jason Garrett talked about how you want to be balanced as an offense and that that’s what the Cowboys strive for. He noted that he thought the Cowboys did a fine job in the passing game, particularly in the second half, and he did note that starting on second and two late in the game they weren’t effective running the ball. He noted there were some “options” on those plays but didn’t go into any detail about that.
He noted how you don’t want to be “dumb tough” but that he thought the team did a great job through the air overall.
Asked about Dak’s decision on those plays and the number of defenders in the box
Asked about Dak Prescott’s decision on the RPO that the Cowboys had called, Jason Garrett said the Cowboys didn’t block it well enough. He noted that different teams do a good job against some of those looks and that the Cowboys didn’t get the job done. He said teams move guys in and out of the box so it is tough sometimes to make the right call.
Jason Garrett said that Cowboys have gotten good production out of Blake Jarwin, especially after the catch. He said he feels as if he’s growing into a complete tight end with his blocking.
Minnesota was committed to stopping the run
Obviously the Vikings did a fine job of limiting what the Cowboys did on the ground and Jason Garrett was quick to give them credit. He did say again that Dallas was able to move the ball through the air effectively.
Asked specifically why the Cowboys didn’t then go to the air on third and two near the end he said you can always go back and look at plays that didn’t work and how you could have called them differently.
Game was lost overall
Asked if the Cowboys lost the game more in going down 14-0 early or with the penultimate possession, Jason Garrett did note that at one point the Cowboys had the lead. He summarized it by saying that overall they didn’t do a good enough job.
Tavon Austin’s fair catch
Jason Garrett said the Cowboys didn’t communicate that well enough. He noted that the team chose not to try to block the punt and said that the biggest coaching point for Tavon was not to bleed a lot of time trying to return the ball. He noted that the team didn’t communicate well enough that Tavon should try to return it if he felt like the opportunity was there.
Brett Maher has been really good from downtown
Jason Garrett noted the Cowboys felt confident in Brett Maher which is why they tried the field goal on the first possession of the game, noting his success from long range.
Cowboys have been a good third down team
The Cowboys did a fine job at converting long third downs against the Vikings, shout out to Dak Prescott, and Jason Garrett noted this was a big part of the success that they did have against Minnesota. He said he thought the Cowboys did a good job at consistently making plays on the all-important down.
Leighton Vander Esch health
He came out of the game healthy.
Cowboys didn’t kick a field goal on their third possession because they felt is was a bit out of range
Obviously the Cowboys tried a field goal from the Minnesota 39-yard line on their first possession, Brett Maher missed, but two possessions later they chose to punt from just outside the Minnesota 40-yard line. Jason Garrett said Maher’s range has typically been from inside of the 40 which is why they chose to punt instead of try the field goal again.
Dak Prescott had multiple options on the fourth down
Jason Garrett said Dak had options like Randall Cobb and the tight end but worked his way to Zeke and it didn’t work out.
Schematic approach doesn’t really change week to week
Jason Garrett said it’s typically a combination of the things you do and who you’re playing against. He said the basic question you have to answer about your opposition is what front do they play. He said that you put up the stuff in your scheme that can attack those particular coverages and that hopefully everything you’re doing is within your system of football.
Jeff Heath’s health
He’s been dealing with shoulder and knee issues so he only played 10 defensive snaps but did stay in to play special teams.
Everybody has their own way of getting ready to go and warming up
The way that Dak Prescott warms up before games got a lot of attention on Sunday night. Jason Garrett said that the Cowboys have things that they do together but that they also have individual practices as well.
Cowboys screen game
The Cowboys haven’t really been utilizing their screen game and offense and Jason Garrett said that they have to get better and improve upon it.
Cowboys came out of the game pretty healthy
Connor Williams had a knee issue, La’el Collins is banged up a little bit (back), Jeff Heath. Zack Martin had an elbow injury.
Pollard was part of the plan
Jason Garrett mentioned that Tony Pollard was part of the plan against Minnesota but that they weren’t able to execute it effectively enough. He noted that the difficult thing with that is that you’re taking Ezekiel Elliott off of the field and that that’s always difficult to do.