Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett Just Doesn't Get It

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Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett Just Doesn't Get It
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Dallas head coach Jason Garrett.

If I never see another shotgun formation with an empty backfield on third and short it’ll be way, way too soon.

Thursday’s 38-31 loss to Washington at Cowboys Stadium should come as absolutely no surprise at all. You could have probably seen this one coming last weekend as the Dallas Cowboys needed overtime to beat a two-win team from Cleveland.

Are you aware that Dallas has been outscored 41-3 in the first two quarters of their past two games? Forget the fact that they were both played at home because it’s no secret that Cowboys Stadium offers nothing in terms of home-field advantage.

But outscored 41-3 against teams with losing records?

Wow.

Then again, as former Dallas head coach Bill Parcells often said, “You are what you are.”

The Cowboys just aren’t a very good team. What other conclusion can you draw when at this point in the regular season you’re below .500 and have already lost to two rookie quarterbacks?

The return of Robert Griffin III to the state of Texas should have sent alarm bells through the head of Jason Garrett, a third-year head coach, also calling offensive plays, who is starting to find really hot water these days.

It would be imperative to keep RG3 off the field as much as possible as the numbers clearly show that this former Baylor University star is figuring out the quarterback position very quickly in the NFL. In order to accomplish that goal, Dallas needed to run the ball and control the clock.

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Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Forget that!

I don’t know for sure, but Sunday had to be close to a franchise record for fewest rushing attempts by a Dallas offense in any game ever played. The Cowboys totaled seven pathetic carries for the game by guys not named Tony Romo or Dez Bryant, who picked up six yards on a reverse.

Seven carries.

That will not keep RG3 or other opposing offenses off the field too often.

About the best this Garrett-led offense can hope for is Romo completions to either Bryant or Jason Witten. There isn’t a whole lot after that.

Despite the fact that rookie running back Lance Dunbar averaged eight yards per carry, he got exactly one carry in a game in which Dallas trailed early and never really got into the game as much as the scoreboard might indicate.

The better idea, to Garrett anyway, was to feed starting running back Felix Jones, who was nursing an injured knee, mind you.  

Jones ended up with 14 yards on six carries.  

It holds little water that Dallas ran so poorly simply because they fell behind early. When you fall behind early you have to remember that it is still early. This means there is time to stick to the game plan and get back into it.

But not when you call 100 percent pass plays in an entire half and your quarterback attempts 62 passes on the afternoon!

Elsa/Getty Images
Dallas running back Felix Jones.
No handoffs in an entire half?

I’ve never heard of such stupidity.

In the event I somehow missed a carry after the half, that would still only be one—is that any better?

Garrett is on a road to nowhere with the Dallas Cowboys and I think that owner and general manager Jerry Jones is fully aware of that.

It’s true that there are injuries to the offensive line and that not having DeMarco Murray over the past six games makes things more difficult. But I don’t get Dunbar getting just a single carry, no matter what you want to call this Garrett offense. This is arena-league crap and it will not fly in the NFL.

Dunbar rushed for over 100 yards in the preseason finale against Miami back in August and this, along with the fact Dunbar is on the depth chart, offers enough proof that he can carry the ball. I’d bet money he is faster than Jones and is certainly healthier. Dunbar is also much younger than Jones and without the wear and tear.

So how can you give this young, fast, hungry rookie just a single carry when your starter is banged up and a former Heisman Trophy winner is the next opponent?

The argument that Dunbar is a rookie that is not prepared to play doesn’t hold much water either. If Dunbar is not ready to play, then why is he even here? This doesn’t say much about game planning on the part of Garrett.

The Redskins game was the perfect time to do the unpredictable in order to beat a very beatable team. Instead, I’m not sure I have ever seen a Dallas offense more predictable and one-dimensional.

Elsa/Getty Images
North Texas product Lance Dunbar.
Of course this entire problem is traced all the way to Jones, the very one who started this regime back in the winter of 2007 following the departure of Parcells. Not sure exactly if Jones expected Parcells to stay another year or not, but it seems he did.

Just a year before, offensive assistant Sean Payton had been plucked by New Orleans to become head coach of the Saints.

As Parcells departed and even before the hiring of Wade Phillips as the new head coach, Jones wasted no time in hiring then-recently retired backup quarterback Garrett as offensive coordinator. Garrett served two seasons in Miami as quarterbacks coach immediately upon retirement from the Dolphins.

Sure seems like Jones acted too quickly to make sure he had a future head coach that hadn’t proved a whole lot, if anything.

Here’s something to think about.

The Dallas Mavericks also have a former player for a head coach in Rick Carlisle. Like Garrett, Carlisle played a superficial role in a dynasty situation while with the Boston Celtics beginning in the mid-1980s. Carlisle played with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. He won a championship in 1986 and went to the NBA Finals in 1985 and 1987.

In other words, Carlisle watched and learned; as a result he’s a former NBA Coach of the Year and also has an NBA championship.

Garrett hung out in Dallas from 1993-1999 as either a third-string or backup quarterback to future hall of fame passer Troy Aikman. Garrett won two Super Bowl rings while watching championship runs in 1993 and 1995.

He also got a good look at NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith, a former Super Bowl and league MVP. Garrett even handed the ball off to Smith a few times on Thanksgiving 1994, the last time Garrett was a candidate for a turkey leg following a football game.

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Suspended head coach Sean Payton.
Unlike Carlisle, Garrett did not seem to absorb anything too influential about winning games or aspiring for contention. Carlisle took that precious experience as a player in multiple championship situations and translated it into what is now a successful coaching career that is still building.

Garrett can’t say the same thing, it seems.

How you go from playing with the corps of talent that he did while with Dallas to leading this kind of offensive effort as a coach I’ll never understand. But Garrett has done this for years now, and while many names on the depth chart have changed, the results have gotten no better.

I just don’t think Garrett gets it.

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