If there’s one thing I enjoy about being a football fan, it’s complaining about the play calling after my teams loses. But if there’s a SECOND thing I enjoy about being a football fan, it’s seeing my team win, and then complaining about the play calling anyway. Because complaining RULES, and coaches are always doing things that piss me off.
The Cowboys won last night, but let’s imagine an alternate universe where the Cowboys didn’t have the luxury of facing Jake Delhomme in the final five minutes. Let’s imagine, on that second-to-last Panthers drive, that a competent quarterback was at the wheel, and that Steve Smith didn’t decide to sell that QB out by cutting the wrong way. Let’s imagine the Cowboys lost, which they easily could have. Who would you blame? Who would you have tied to four horses, which are then sent in opposing directions?
On the Cowboys first three possessions last night, they killed each drive by throwing the ball behind the sticks on 3rd down, including that idiotic (checkdown?) throw to Jason Witten on 3rd and 17 that led to Wade Phillips electing to punt the ball on 4th and 7 FROM THE CAROLINA 38. The crowd booed that gutless call. If there had been a more vehement way of expressing collective disgust (battery throwing, fire breathing, etc.), they surely would have used it.
Oh, but it got worse. Let’s revisit the goal line sequence from the opening of the fourth quarter, where the Cowboys called two consecutive fade routes on 2nd and 3rd down from the one. Keep in mind, they did this in a game where they ended up rushing for over 200 FREAKIN’ YARDS. But no, let’s run a fade route to Roy Williams (who couldn’t even be bothered to join the huddle on that play). Oh, did that fail? Well then, let’s throw another fade, this time to an even SLOWER player in Martellus Bennett. It’s almost TOO clever! Even Gruden and Jaworski hated those play calls, and Gruden and Jaworski love everyone and everything.
The Cowboys have proven over the past three games that they have more than enough weaponry to generate a solid offense. But all too often, the potential of that weaponry is nullified by lame play calling and/or the more-than-occasional Flozell Adams penalty. They run for 200 yards, yet they never elect to run when they SHOULD.
I know Jason Witten is a really nice tight end. But he’s acting as a security blanket for both Romo and Garrett. He caught more balls than Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton combined last night, and that’s not unusual. They’re all too happy to throw him the ball behind the sticks (despite his propensity for NEVER getting yardage after the catch) and not do something more creative.
Here’s a fun fact: There were three games last year where Witten caught two balls or less. The Cowboys won them all. MY RESEARCH IS IRONCLAD. THAT’S TOTALLY NOT AN ARBITRARY STAT.
So yes, the Cowboys won last night. But that was, at best, a sloppy display of offense for a team that has more than enough talent to do better. And when a team isn’t getting everything out of its talent, there’s only one place to point the finger: at the ginger kid.