There was a new arrival at Cowboys practice on Monday.
No, not Miles Austin. We're talking about two new scoreboards that Jason Garrett installed at the field so that the team could practice in different situations. Per the Dallas Morning News, there was a period of practice on Monday when the score was tied 24-24 with just under a minute to play.
No word on whether the team actually practiced having Tony Romo throw an interception at that point or if they just want to always have him ready to blow a game when the moment calls for it.
To be fair, this move wasn't a reaction to the first four games of the season. Garrett said that the team ordered the scoreboards a while back and finally got them in during the bye week.
"We just feel like what we're trying to do as coaches is simulate the game as much as we can in all parts of our practice, our regular team work or our situational work at the end of practice," Garrett said. "We've tried to do that from the start of training camp. We think it's valuable in recreating and simulating a game when you have that scoreboard. You have the time that everybody can see, and you understand what the situation is as concretely as possible."
Why stop there? Put an intern in a Jerry Jones mask and have him suggest plays to the coaches and try to talk to the players during crucial moments in the game. Have fake refs make obviously bad calls and then waste 10 minutes while they review them and then decide that the call stands because of some arcane NFL rule that forbids them from actually reviewing it in the first place. Set the score to 28-0 with 13 minutes left in the third quarter and then send the running backs home because Garrett has no further use for them.
That last suggestion actually explains the flaw in this whole little plan of Garrett's. Practicing under game conditions and with a sense of urgency makes all the sense in the world, but are we really meant to believe that the problems the Cowboys have had in the first two weeks came from not understanding the situation?
If a missing scoreboard was the reason Garrett refused to run the ball against the Jets and Lions, then the problems with him as an offensive playcaller go well beyond anything that a scoreboard can fix. That's not to say that there aren't some benefits to making practice more like a game, it's just to say that the problem with the Cowboys hasn't been appreciating situations.
It has been executing during them and there's not much chance a scoreboard is going to help with that.