Dallas Cowboys: Failure to Capitalize on Winnable Games Falls on Jason Garrett

Peter MatarazzoContributor IMarch 25, 2017

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 9:  Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys looks for a touchdown on a challenge of Anthony Amos' reach into the endzone against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter of a preseason game on August 9, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 19-17.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Conventional wisdom in the football world probably says the Dallas Cowboys are in trouble this weekend with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos coming to town.

That same logic will tell you that the Cowboys had a real shot at being 4-0 heading into Week 5.

But overreactions, hypothetical scenarios and hindsight will not get this team any closer to their goals, unless they embrace and capitalize on opportunities. Both games against Kansas City and San Diego were within the Cowboys grasp, but Dallas couldn't make the critical plays needed to come out on top.

What is the difference in these outcomes in which Dallas falls short? Is there one thing you can point to?

Is it talent? Scheme? Execution? Coaching? Motivation? It's probably a combination of all those factors. In any case, the question on the minds of Dallas fans is, when is this team going to start capitalizing on these opportunities?

The NFC East, Dallas included, has a combined record of 4-12 right now, and eight wins might be enough to ultimately take the division. The Cowboys are in first, but the chance to run away with division has probably passed them by.

Why? Because of their inability to take advantage of winnable games.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 09:  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addresses the press conference for the 2014 The Cowboy Rides Away tour at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on September 9, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Essential B
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Having said that, it's time to attempt to zero in on the problem, or to at least come up with a logical and rational hypothesis that explains the team's struggles to win consistently. The Jason Garrett hot seat will undoubtedly continue to get warmer as long as this team continues to win one week and lose the next.

But is firing him the answer?

Jerry Jones, a huge Garrett advocate, continues to support his coach. Now one can understand why, given Jones' longstanding backing of Garrett, that he continues to tout his coach's abilities and evolution as a leader and a motivator. But the numbers speak for themselves: Since Garrett has taken over this team, Dallas' record is 23-21, and an average record is unacceptable in Cowboy land.

Jones has made it public knowledge that Garrett is the future of this team and that he is not coaching for his job. Still, Jones can't escape the knowledge that his franchise has to climb out of mediocrity if it is going to be taken as serious contenders.

And that's where this falls on Garrett.

He can have all of Jones' support, but as a coach, Garrett appears to have regressed since replacing Wade Phillips midway through 2010. What happened to the coach who that year went 5-3 with Jon Kitna and won some improbable games in the process, including an overtime thriller on the road against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts?

The close games that the Cowboys have lost over the last couple of seasons must fall on Garrett. It's that simple.

Every team has concerns about depth. Every team has draft picks who fall flat, and every team deals with injuries. The Cowboys have one of the most talented rosters in football, yet inexplicably continue to lose close games.

You can talk about dropped passes, lack of execution, slow starts and not "getting the bounces." But at some point you also have to look at reality and the reasons why the Cowboys right now are not 4-0 and running away with division.

Maybe it's a byproduct of being 130-130 since 1997, or maybe it is, indeed, just the way the ball bounces. If Garrett is all of the things that Jones envisions him to be, then it's time to prove it. This isn't about piling on Jason Garrett, it's about returning this franchise to glory by finding out what is going wrong.

The roller coaster ride is getting old.