5 thoughts from Cowboys-Rams: Questionable offensive play call late in game; injuries pile up for Dallas - Calvin Watkins, DMN
Cowboys fans have been wanting a more aggressive coach, but the call against the Rams proved to be controversial.
The Cowboys faced a fourth-and-3 from the Rams’ 11 with 11:46 left in the fourth quarter. Instead of attempting a field goal, McCarthy elected to go for it. Dak Prescott threw a pass to rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb that was short of the marker. The play went for 2 yards, but it was a questionable play call from McCarthy or even offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Prescott’s throw was to Lamb, who didn’t run a route long enough to become a viable target. Instead, the completion was short and safety Jordan Fuller made the open tackle to get the Cowboys’ offense off the field. If the Cowboys had converted a field goal, the game would have been tied, so instead, the Cowboys were left wondering what might have been.
Interestingly enough, the analytics didn’t really favor going for it.
The largest complaint about McCarthy’s predecessor, Jason Garrett, was his game management. Garrett was blamed for icing his kicker, too many long field goal tries and stubbornly sticking with a faulty game plan.
McCarthy spent a year away from the sideline, studying the game and trends after his long run with the Green Bay Packers. Maybe he saw how his defense was scuffling, especially in getting third-down stops. Maybe he was just wanting to be aggressive and show faith in his new team.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the win percentage had the Cowboys made the field goal would have been 47.4%. Had they converted, the win percentage was 47.2%. So basically a wash. But also according to ESPN Stats & Information, McCarthy never went for it on fourth down when down by three in the fourth quarter and inside the opponents’ 30. He kicked a field goal six times, making five.
There is also the question of why rookie CeeDee Lamb didn’t run his route past the sticks.
The Cowboys had a chance to tie the Rams with 11:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. But facing a fourth-and-three from the Rams 11, Mike McCarthy decided to go for it.
Rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb made a rookie mistake, failing to run a route beyond the sticks, and rookie safety Jordan Fuller made the play of the game. Fuller’s tackle on Lamb after a 2-yard gain ended the Cowboys’ closest chance to tie or win the game.
The other huge moment from the game involved the Michael Gallup offensive pass interference call late in the game.
A long completion from Prescott to Michael Gallup that would have put the Cowboys back in field-goal range with less than a minute remaining was negated on a questionable offensive pass interference call on Gallup.
You be the judge.
Yes, the Cowboys got hosed on that OPI call that would have put them in field goal range to tie the game but it should have never came down to that.— Mike Canizales (@mcan409) September 14, 2020
All those weapons and only 17 points ♂️
#nfl #DallasCowboys #sundaynightfootball pic.twitter.com/hy19s1cdyo
For a game that featured a lot of offensive yards, the scoring was pretty low. Missed field goals and missed opportunities can account for some of that.
In losing their season opener, 20-17, at the Los Angeles Rams, who were debuting their brand new SoFi Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys proved they indeed have plenty of offensive weapons, the team putting up 380 yards of offense. But in the end, they couldn’t pick up the 3 yards they needed to bring home the victory.
Not to say that it can all be laid at the feet of that one decision. The Dallas defense struggled to contain the Rams for most the night, who in fairness have plenty of firepower of their own. The home side racked up 422 yards of offense, and perhaps more importantly, converted 53 percent (9-of-17) of its third down attempts and dominated the time of possession, 35:38 to 24:22.
Both quarterbacks turned in pretty good games, but also relied on some hard running attacks.
And both were impressive with Prescott completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 266 yards and a touchdown for a 92.5 passer rating. For his part, Goff was good on 64.5 percent of his attempts for 275 yards and one interception, a 79.4 mark.
Both signal callers had help from a stout running attack, though. Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 89 rushing yards for Dallas, the Cowboys totaling 136 yards on the ground as a team. Meanwhile, the Rams’ running back by committee approach chewed up 153 rushing yards.
Dontari Poe was the only Cowboy to kneel.
Poe, who signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in the offseason, has said repeatedly that he planned to kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. He is the first Cowboys player ever to do so.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones has been one of the league’s most outspoken voices against kneeling but acknowledged in recent weeks that he would not issue a policy prohibiting it.
Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch fractures collarbone; TE Blake Jarwin, OL Cam Erving exit with knee injuries - SportsDay Staff
The injuries will linger long past the loss. The team will get a chance to redeem themselves next week, but they will be without some key players.
Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch diligently worked himself back to health this offseason following January neck surgery.
The work begins again.
Vander Esch fractured his collarbone late in the first quarter of the team’s season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, a source said. He ran off the field during the break before the second quarter, one medical staffer to his side and another trailing close behind. Minutes later, an X-ray revealed the fracture, and his status quickly was downgraded for questionable to out.
Expect Vander Esch to hit injured reserve but he will return at some point.
Source: Cowboys fear Blake Jarwin has suffered a torn ACL, likely ending his 2020 season - SportsDay Staff
Poor Blake Jarwin, he finally gets his chance and will miss the year.
The Blake Jarwin era hasn’t gotten off to a good start.
Jarwin exited the Cowboys’ season opener vs. the Rams with a knee injury and the team announced he would not return to the game. A source told The Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken that the Cowboys fear that Jarwin has suffered a torn ACL, likely ending his season.
There was one more injury of note.
Cowboys offensive tackle Cameron Erving also went down with a knee injury. The team announced he also would not return to the game. Erving is believed to have suffered a left MCL sprain, according to a source. He will undergo an MRI on Monday.