Cowboys’ failure to execute offensively ended their season — not Dak Prescott’s umpire collision - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News
The Cowboys offense is to blame for their season ending, not the refs.
Forget Dak Prescott scrambling too far. Forget the umpire colliding into the Cowboys quarterback from behind. Forget all the mechanics associated with the football not being set in time for Prescott’s spiked pass to beat the game clock and allow for a desperation heave. None of that is the reason the 2021 Cowboys are finished. What happened earlier was more damaging — and damning.
In the fallout of Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, much attention has been placed on the dramatic final seconds of regulation. That energy is better spent on a critical sequence that occurred surrounding halftime. The Cowboys allowed an invaluable chance to slip, contributing to them being in the frantic end-of-game situation. And they have no one to blame but themselves.
At the time, Dallas trailed 16-7. It had possession late in the second quarter and would receive the kickoff to begin the third quarter. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy calls this a “double-double” situation where the offense can singlehandedly change a game’s complexion, scoring a touchdown to end the first half and a touchdown to start the second. What happened next is worth a thorough revisiting. As a spoiler, the officials weren’t the problem.
5 takeaways about the Cowboys: A once hopeful season ends early again - Aidan Davis, Blogging The Boys
A look back at a promising season with a disappointing ending.
Contrary to what several Cowboys players might think, the referees were never out to get the Dallas Cowboys. The final play was unfortunate, but Dallas had several opportunities to win the game before the last drive but couldn’t capitalize due to their own mistakes. It was an issue all year, and it ended a once hopeful season. Let’s review just how bad the Cowboys were at committing penalties:
Penalties per game: 7.8 (1st)
Penalty yards per game: 66.2 (1st)
Penalty first downs allowed per game: 1.8 (15th)
Penalties per play: .06 (1st)
Dallas will not be contending for a Super Bowl anytime soon unless this is fixed. There is no scenario where you beat four of the best teams in the NFL by gifting them 66 free yards per game, on top of two first downs.
One positive to come from this weekend was Will McClay staying in Dallas.
McClay has drawn interest from other teams about high-ranking front office positions in the past, and that was the case again this year as the Cowboys went 12-5 in the regular season and won the NFC East title. "At the end of the season we know these things are going to come about," McClay said. "I'm more in the mode of staying here, continuing here and continuing to try and do what our job is, is to win a Super Bowl and do my part within that.
"As it started to come down, I knew some things were going to happen. (Cowboys chief operating officer) Stephen (Jones) and Jerry knew as well. We talked about it in training camp. We went through the season, nose to the grindstone, and we got toward the end of the season and I had a conversation with Stephen and said let's talk. About the time we started talking, I think a couple of (interview request) slips came in, but we were done (with a contract agreement) by then."
Which free agent would you most like to see back in Dallas?
RB – Corey Clement. Third-stringer Corey Clement showed some good things in limited carries, spending most of the year rightfully buried behind Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. His also returned kicks and worked on special teams coverage units, playing the third-most ST snaps on the team. Clement’s special teams work makes him an attractive candidate to return next year. However, he only got the job in 2021 after Rico Dowdle was lost to injury. Assuming Rico is on track to return next year, Dallas may let Corey look for work elsewhere.
WR – Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, Malik Turner. Dallas may have Cooper and Lamb locked up for next year but you can’t say that for the rest of the WR corps. The next four names on the depth chart are all unrestricted free agents in 2022. Obviously the first concern is Gallup. He’s arguably had the most chemistry with Dak Prescott of any receiver since he joined the team. But unfortunately, Gallup’s now looking for a new contract within months of a late-season ACL injury.
Complicating matters is that Cedrick Wilson is also a free agent. Dallas could operate just fine on offense next year with Wilson as WR3 but, after flashing his talent plenty of times the last few years, Cedrick may finally get bigger opportunities elsewhere in the league. Noah Brown’s been around a lot longer than most would’ve expected from a former 7th-round pick. He’s lasted this long on niche ability as a blocker and special teamer but never really become a factor on offense.
What went wrong in Dallas? Jerry Jones, Cowboys must figure it out or more disappointment is coming - Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News
Another season, more disappointment.
Jerry Jones couldn’t mask the profound disappointment he felt when he spoke to reporters after the Cowboys’ debacle Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium. It showed on his face, especially in his eyes. Yes, the 23-17 loss to San Francisco was a debacle because it represented another wasted opportunity for the Cowboys. Just like 2007. And 2014. And 2016.
The players change. The coaches, too. The results don’t. The reason the Cowboys haven’t been to the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season - only Detroit and Washington have longer droughts in the NFC - is because they have failed to take advantage of the seasons when they’ve had excellent teams.
The frustrating end to yet another failed season is particularly galling this year because the NFC doesn’t have a dominant team, and the Cowboys had one of the most talented rosters. Understand, the Cowboys aren’t going to have a roster this talented for another few years.
Taking a look back at the biggest mistakes from Sunday’s game.
3. Feeding Ezekiel Elliott Over Tony Pollard. The Cowboys have struggled to run the ball consistently for months now, yet they continue to turn around and hand it to Ezekiel Elliott. It came out after the game that Elliott was playing with a partially torn PCL. If that was indeed the case, why would the Cowboys keep playing him over Tony Pollard?
It does not make any sense to give Elliott 12 carries and Pollard only four. Pollard is much more explosive with the ball and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had to do a better job of getting the ball to Pollard in space. Maybe Pollard was still hindered from the foot injury that kept him out of Week 18, but he was a full participant in practice and should have been more involved in the offense. Pollard finished the game with 6 touches (4 rushes, 2 receptions) for 26 yards. While Zeke had 13 touches for 31 yards.
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