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Cowboys news: Jason Garrett under fire

NFL referees under fire, as well.

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Dallas Cowboys v New York Jets Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Jason Garrett and the Cowboys Are at a Crossroads - Robert Mays, The Ringer
Maybe the only real weakness on the Cowboys is the coaching staff.

One blocked punt or botched fourth-down decision shouldn’t be enough to seal Garrett’s fate. Considering all the talent on this roster, though, Dallas shouldn’t be sitting at 6-5 and hanging on to its NFC East division lead for dear life. Dak Prescott didn’t have his best outing against Bill Belichick and a lockdown Patriots defense, but he’s been a legitimate MVP candidate for most of the season. Amari Cooper was held catchless against superstar cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but the Pro Bowl receiver has been excellent in his first full season with Dallas. The Cowboys still have one of the league’s best offensive lines, an effective (yet expensive) running back, an explosive no. 2 receiver in Michael Gallup, and a rejuvenated Randall Cobb in the slot. Passing game coordinator Kris Richard’s unit has taken a slight step back this season, but it still boasts exceptional players at every level. When this team is fully healthy, its only glaring weakness is the staff responsible for getting the most out of all that talent. That’s been the reason behind many of this team’s shortcomings this year, and it’s where Jones will have some hard decisions to make this offseason.

“Significant setback”: Jerry Jones critical of Cowboys coaching after loss in New England – Jon Machota, TheAthletic.com
Jerry Jones was clearly disappointed, frustrated and unusually forthright with his post-game comments.

Jerry Jones has voiced frustration before but nothing like what he said Sunday night. The Cowboys owner and general manager is not pleased with the way his team is being coached. He didn’t specifically say Jason Garrett’s name, or that of any other member of the staff. But it was clear after a 13-9 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots that Jones expects more, and he doesn’t think the talent on the roster is the problem.

“We still got a long way to go,” Jones said, “but with the makeup of this team, I shouldn’t be this frustrated.”

Jones described Dallas’ fifth loss in 11 games as a “significant setback.” What appeared to bother him most was poor special teams play, which has been an issue all season. No mistake was bigger than the blocked punt near the end of the first quarter which set up New England’s first score, the game’s only touchdown.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called the block “probably the difference in the game.”

3 things we learned from Cowboys-Patriots, including how Dallas paid for Jason Garrett’s conservative call - John Owning, DallasNews.com
There were a number of questionable coaching decisions, including why the Cowboys’ failed to adapt to the Patriots’ strategy of stressing the kick-off team with short kicks.

On top of that, the Cowboys couldn’t come up with an adequate adjustment to New England’s short kickoffs into the wind. Tony Pollard and Dalton Schultz muffed one apiece while Jamize Olawale let another bounce off the turf. Luckily, the Cowboys were able to recover the ball on all three occasions. However, the muffs limited Dallas’ ability to pick up yards on the return.

Instead of making the adjustment to move Pollard up to the 5- or 10-yard line so he could be in a better position to catch and return when New England was kicking into the wind, the Cowboys opted to leave him at his usual return depth against the high and short kickoffs. This meant either Pollard had to cover a ton of distance to get in position to catch the kickoff (the first muff), one of the blockers had to haul in the kickoff despite the rain and wind and not being trained to field kickoffs (the second muff), or a combination of both (the last muff).

It’s never fun to call for someone to lose their job, but this performance was embarrassing enough that the Cowboys should consider parting ways with special teams coach Keith O’Quinn. If this was a one-time occurrence, then it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, but Dallas’ special teams units have been struggling all season, coming into this game ranked near the bottom in almost every statistical category.

Why Dominant, Deep 49ers Might Be NFL’s Scariest Team – Peter King, ProFootballTalk.com
Did Jerry Jones’ comments after the game admit defeat when it comes to the team’s head coach?

Jason Garrett, Dallas. Jerry Jones truly does not want to fire Garrett. He loves him. But the sound of his voice after a listless loss in Foxboro on Sunday evening tells me the Cowboys had better get very hot very fast or Jones will be putting out feelers to Lincoln Riley and who knows who else in five or six weeks.

Jerry Jones knows Cowboys coach Jason Garrett can’t be saved - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Jason Garrett’s seat was already hot when Jerry Jones chose not to extend Garrett’s contract in the off-season.

But if you are looking at the situation and coming to the conclusion that Jones has finally put Garrett on notice, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Garrett has already been put on notice.

Jones did that when he didn’t give him a contract extension after last season. Garrett came into 2019 in the last year of his contract coaching for his job.

The only way he would get a new contract was if the Cowboys made a long run into the playoffs. Jones said as much.

Garrett needed to take the next step.

A division title and a wildcard win was not going to cut it.

Jones’ frustration on Sunday was about him finally coming to the realization that Garrett can no longer be saved.

There will be no fairy-tale ending for the Cowboys in 2019, and thus Jones will have to finally fire a coach who is like family to him.

NFL Panic Index, Quarterback Edition, Part II: Who should relax, who should be benched after Week 12? – The Athletic - Lindsay Jones, TheAthletic.com
Sunday’s defeat was a tough pill to swallow, but with Cowboys still in control of their own destiny, it’s not time to panic - yet.

Panic Index Level: R-E-L-A-X

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: Zero panic here. Absolutely none. Prescott’s numbers weren’t great Sunday in New England (19-of-23, 212 yards, 1 interception in a game Dallas lost 13-9), but Prescott was largely sharp. That fourth-down throw to Amari Cooper? That was a perfect ball, and Cooper couldn’t hang on. (Credit Stephon Gilmore for stellar defense on Cooper all day, as Cooper was held without a catch.) The biggest things that cost the Cowboys what would have been a huge win were out of Prescott’s control: Jason Garrett’s decision to kick a 29-yard field goal with 3 1/2 minutes left in a game they were trailing by seven points and two phantom tripping penalties, including one on Travis Frederick on the Cowboys’ final drive.

Cowboys disappoint on the biggest stage, reinforcing their new status quo – Bob Sturm, TheAthletic.com
The Sturminator weighs and thinks maybe this team just isn’t very good.

This defeat should not be easily accepted.

Entering the game, the Cowboys believed they had the talent to win this game. Weather, execution, mistakes and perhaps coaching again helped decide this. And now the normal flow of anger, frustration, and repetitive disappointment comes showering down like the rains in Gillette Stadium.

Everyone wants somebody to shove today, but the sum total of this particular game was that many shared in this defeat. Had they not failed against the Saints, Jets and Vikings in similarly winnable games, this one might go down as a “reasonable loss.” But given the debacles in previous weeks, it all adds up to what threatens to be a massive underachievement in 2019.

At least, that is what we would like to think. The reality is that this is a game that the Patriots always win and a game the Cowboys seem to always lose.

The Cowboys definitely made too many mistakes to win this one. But perhaps the biggest mistake was made by those of us on the outside when we thought they were better than they actually were.

10 truths from Cowboys’ loss: Dak Prescott wasn’t good enough and Dallas should’ve run the ball more - Jean-Jacques Taylor, DallasNews.com
Ten observations, including some interesting ones.

8. The weather was awful, which is why Prescott should’ve been wearing gloves from the beginning of the game, even though he doesn’t like them. The Patriots were too good and the weather was too bad to give away a couple of possessions because he couldn’t throw the ball accurately in the rain.

9. The Cowboys’ starting field position averaged their own 21. Their best field position was the Dallas 36 and the Dallas 30. Each of those drives resulted in field goals. New England’s average starting field position was at its 41. Field position matters in a game played in awful weather.

What a ‘Trip’ This Could’ve Been - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com
We pretty much knew the Cowboys couldn’t win against New England if they played sloppy. They played sloppy.

Congratulations, the Cowboys really didn’t give up a huge play – other than a blocked punt that certainly became huge as the game went on.

No, there wasn’t really that big play. Just a ton of little ones. But in a game like this, those little plays added up to be just enough to lose.

A blocked punt here, a tripping call here – and there – and then a fumbled kick here and here and here. Throw in a poorly thrown interception at the wrong spot of the field and even an illegal motion penalty that cost them 20 yards.

All of those seem manageable to overcome. But not against Brady & Belichick, not here at Gillette Stadium and certainly not against them, at this stadium, in the middle of a relentless monsoon that never let up – until the game was over, of course.

You know you have to play a perfect game in a place like this against a pair of “GOATS” like that.

And it wasn’t perfect at all.

MMQB: Michael Thomas belongs in MVP conversation - Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated
Yet another marquee NFL game is being remembered mostly for some bad officiating more than what the players did on the field.

We probably should’ve come out of the Patriots’ 13-9 victory over the Cowboys talking about New England’s fabulous defense, which now hasn’t allowed a touchdown in six quarters. Or about how the Cowboys couldn’t quite get over the hump in really horrible playing conditions in Foxboro.

Instead, the main takeaways leaving the game really centered on two areas: officiating and coaching. How so?

• A dubious tripping call on Dallas LT Tyron Smith helped to pin the Cowboys deep in their own territory on their third possession, which led to a blocked punt by Pats special teams ace Matthew Slater. The block gave New England possession at the Dallas 12, and the only touchdown of the game was scored two plays later.

• An almost identical tripping call, just as shaky as the first one (and this one on RG Zack Martin), came on the other end of the game, right after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. It negated a third-down connection between Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Eliiott, which easily covered the one yard left to the sticks and created a third-and-11. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs two plays later and wouldn’t get it back until there was one second left on the clock.

Awful tripping call crushes Cowboys in critical moment - Andy Nesbitt, ForTheWin
And more dubious officiating.

The Cowboys converted a third-and-one on what was basically their final drive of the game. But then a yellow flag came flying out and the refs announced that Cowboys center Travis Frederick was being flagged for tripping.

The penalty pushed Dallas back to third-and-11 and two plays later they turned the ball over on downs, which all but sealed the win for the Patriots.

Check out this terrible call:

It was a bad call; we know it was a bad call and pretty much every neutral observer agrees it was a bad call:

BTB Podcast

It hasn’t been the best week for Jason Garrett. We discuss on the latest episode of The Ocho.

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