It’s time to look at the “requirements” for victory, that I wrote about leading up to the Packer game. How did the Boys do in following that prescription?
In the general requirements section, item 1, was to play hard nosed football for a full sixty minutes. The 46 men on the game day roster, they gave it their all! Mission Accomplished!
Item #2 was, “Can’t be out coached again!” and that’s exactly what happened, again. I just completed watching the regular Fox broadcast of our offensive plays for this blog. Joe Buck, repeated three times on the drive where Dallas took the lead, that it was imperative to not only score but not leave any time on the clock for one, Aaron Rodgers! Even Joe Buck knew this and just another shock to the system that Garrett was out to lunch. Hopefully, you read the story on the eve of the game, so lets move on.
The next item was to have a balanced attack and it couldn’t have been done much better. They ran the ball 35 times for 163 yards and Dak threw the ball 36 times for 245 yards and 3 TD’s. Mission Accomplished!
Final item in the general category was to improve on third down conversions. Went 7-12, much improved. Mission Accomplished. The team, for the most part took care of three of the four items on our list. Item #2 was a catastrophic failure.
Now we’ll look at the offensive requirements and how things turned out. Item #1, The offensive line had to get it together and do a better job. They did a very good job in the 4th quarter, but the first half they were less than effective. Something to be said for finishing strong.
The second item was calling for consistency in the running game and avoiding the negative plays. Basically the same outcome as in item #1, dicey in the first half, tearing it up in the 4th quarter! Again, strong finish.
My next item was to get the play action to be effective for down field shots and slants to Dez. This didn’t really work out to my satisfaction. The Packers limited Zeke early and the play action wasn’t overly effective, other than the second TD pass to Beasley.
Improved connection from Dak to Dez and for the most part it was far better than it had been. Dez should have had that pass in the end zone over the middle, but the Boys were bailed out by a penalty for the hit on Dez as a defenseless receiver. Grade, some good, some not so good.
This game could have been the career defining game for Dak in how he carried this team on his shoulders. On the Cowboys first possession, facing a 3rd & 14, Dak stepped up and out of the grasp of a GB defender to find Brice Butler for a gain of 49 yards. Without this play jump starting the offense, do we score the opening TD? Below we have a clip of this play. On the Cowboys next possession facing a 3rd & 6, Dak was under serious pressure, did his best to spin out of the pocket, collected himself, and on the dead run hit Smith for 18 yards. On the teams third possession, the offense had a 3rd & 5. As the pocket was collapsing and catching them in man coverage, Dak took off up the gut for 21 yards to the GB 30 yard line. Dak would close out the drive with a sweet pass to Dez for a TD and a 21-6 lead. Three special plays by Dak that kept drives alive then he continued directing the team in for TD’s! The Cowboys aren’t in this game without the performance by Dak.
Finally, in the 4th quarter, the O Line started creating space for Zeke, who tore it up. This enabled us to drive down for the go ahead score by methodically taking it to them. The 2nd and 2 play call that I wrote extensively about after the game, turned out to be a run pass option. It was a play that should have been a pure run to take valuable time off the clock.
The pick 6 by GB was not on Dak. He was making a pass to Terrance and putting it in the only place for a safe reception, on his outside left shoulder. It appeared that Williams couldn’t get his hands in position fast enough, instead a ricochet goes the other way. There was one play, that Dak has to have wanted back. The Cowboys were down 22-21 and were in GB territory. It’s 3rd and 6 and Dak’s eyeballing Witten right off the snap. That surprised me watching the ALL 22. Dez was doubled with a safety over the top, Brice was manned up with a safety over the top and Witten was covered by a safety as well. The puzzling part was that Terrance was on the outside right, with one on one coverage. TWILL had his man beat off the snap, caught him flat footed and the defender in fact thought he was in zone and handed off Terrance to the preoccupied safety covering Brice. Dak never looked his way, yet Terrance could have walked into the end zone for a TD. Instead we settled for the FG and a slim 24-22 lead.
What I didn’t like in rewatching some of the game in All 22, was that too many blocks were missed, uncharacteristically, with everyone taking a turn. At times, GB had the right calls and our lineman missed the cut off blocks. There were missed blocks by Keith Smith & Alfred Morris. Smith actually could have been called for holding on his missed block, while Morris squared up the GB player, he didn’t hold his block and the defender got pressure on Dak. Now they may be isolated plays and you want to grade players on the totality of their snaps, but there are plays that get blown up and effectively end drives or put the team in bad down and distance situations. I did like seeing Keith Smith in as the FB to block for Zeke and to mix things up they passed out of those sets to not be predictable. Smith actually caught one for a key first down on 3rd and short on our last scoring drive.
The offense as a whole fought hard and while the running game struggled early, they stayed with it, thanks to Dak’s key plays! It’s tough to take two consecutive losses at home when you score 30 or more in each contest. In conclusion the team accomplished many of the general requirements and those for the offense in particular. The one item that superseded all the positives was a coaching failure on 2nd & 2. Such a shame to have a valiant effort for naught because of a poor coaching decision. I wasn’t advocating a slide at the 1 by Dak, just on that particular play to run the ball & more importantly the clock. The objective had to be to score a TD, no argument, but if Joe Buck has the common sense to leave little or nothing on the clock for Rodgers, how is it that a head coach, being paid a healthy sum, doesn’t have the same awareness? Let me make one thing perfectly clear about Scott Linehan’s part in the 2nd & 2 call. His job is to select plays, set up plays that produce a TD. Scott did his job. The head coach needed to make the call.
Down below the first clip is a link to the Cowboys team website where Dak sat in on the Cowboys Hour with Brad Sham. These are typically more about the individual off the field than on and a good way to get to know them.
UPCOMING: We’ll take a look at the defense in this GB game and break down their play over the next few days.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 8, 2017
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 10, 2017