Garrett Holds True To His Decision

Did Jason Garrett's decision making cost the Cowboys on Sunday?

While there was a lot of great NFL action on Sunday, nothing has generated more discussion than the ending to the Cowboys vs. Cardinals game. The critics have been out in full force discussing Cowboys head coach, Jason Garrett’s questionable clock management at the end of the fourth quarter that resulted in a 19-13 overtime loss to the Cardinals.

With two timeouts, the Cowboys were driving the ball. It was a 3rd and 11 with :34 left in the fourth quarter; the score tied 13-13. Tony Romo found Dez Bryant over the middle for a 13-yard completion. The Cowboys had :24 left, ran up to the ball, and, instead of using one of their timeouts, let the clock run down to :07 and decided to spike the ball. They rushed the field goal unit on to try to win the game on what would have been a 49-yard field goal. Just before the snap, Jason Garrett burned one of his timeouts. Kicker, Dan Bailey went through the process anyways and made the kick that would not count. After the timeout, the Cowboys tried again and Bailey’s kick fell short. The Cowboys would not see the ball again.

Why would Garrett not use a timeout after the completion to Bryant? Why would he not try to get a little bit closer to make the field goal attempt more reasonable? After the game, Jason Garrett stood by his clock management decisions:

“You see so many situations where you have negative plays in those situations,” Garrett said. “We felt like were in his range to give him a chance to kick the game winner. We very well could’ve taken a timeout there. We just felt like we were in field goal range. We had yardlines that we use as guidelines before the game, and we felt like we were in range at that point. Tony had them on the line of scrimmage quickly, so we just went ahead and clocked it, and used that as a timeout.”

Garrett continued to explain the timeout in his post-game press conference, “We just felt like we wanted to have a clean operation.”

In hindsight it is easy to see that it didn’t work out the way Garrett had envisioned it. Monday, Garrett stood by his decisions, “We evaluate the situation,” Garrett said. “Certainly when the thing doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you go back and say, ‘Hey, could we have done this? Could we have done that? Should we have done this? It’s very similar to calling a play. When the play works, hey, it was a good call or it was a good play. When it doesn’t work, a lot of times people will say that call wasn’t very good.”

From Garrett’s perspective decisions are proven correct based on the outcome of the play. I’m sure no one would be complaining about it if the kick was good. I don’t profess to be an expert, but even as I watched the game, I wondered out loud, “Why aren’t they calling a timeout?” In hindsight it is easy to judge.

Jason Garrett was obviously worried about a negative play (penalty or loss), happening on the following play that would knock them out of field goal range. Considering the Cowboys had two of the previous five plays result in penalties, it is not illogical to think that they might have endured a negative result.

Last week, the San Diego Chargers were hosting the Broncos in a 13-13 overtime thriller. The Chargers got into field goal range and tried to run the ball to get a little closer. They took a 4-yard loss that resulted in, kicker, Nick Novak attempting a 53-yard kick instead of a 49-yarder. The kick sailed wide and the Broncos took over an won the game.

Maybe that situation was in the back of Garrett’s mind. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but in reality, it is truly a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” league. While we, myself included, all debate what he should have done, the reality is it all comes down to execution. If the Cowboys were executing before this series, it wouldn’t be an issue. If they executed on the field goal, it wouldn’t be an issue.

The lack of execution is the real issue. Garrett’s decision making may be suspect at times, but the team is the one that needs to execute when their number is called. I’m not saying that is the way I would have done it, but they still had the game in reach. They had a chance, they didn’t execute. Now the Cowboys have 4 more games, 3 against the division, and they have to execute.


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