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Down 3-0 with under four minutes to play in the first quarter of Sunday night's game, the Cowboys faced a 4th-and-2 at the Eagles' 40-yard line.
And they punted.
While the call might seem too inconsequential to be listed as a "defining moment" for Dallas, it's symbolic of the team's approach to most plays in virtually every game. Garrett implements a faith-based coaching style, forgoing the numbers as to absolve himself of blame. He makes the conventional calls, not the right ones.
The numbers in that 4th-and-2 situation are so unbelievably in favor of going for it. In normal game situations, offenses should go for it on all the way up to 4th-and-10 on that area of the field, according to Advanced NFL Stats.
The truth is that Dallas should have gone for it even more than the typical numbers suggest. With Orton at quarterback and the Eagles figuring to put a lot of points on the board, the Cowboys should have been playing to increase variance as much as possible. That doesn't include punting on an early 4th-and-2 at the opponent's 40-yard line.
Does a fourth-down call involve risk? Sure, but what's important is how that risk compares to the potential reward. When you run through the numbers, the real risk, as in the suboptimal call, is punting, and it isn't even close. Garrett ultimately cost his team a possession that they needed in the end.
The fourth-down decision was a microcosm of why the Cowboys won't win under Garrett. He's shown in inability to innovative. An inability to evolve. An inability to adapt to new information.
It's not what Garrett is that hurts Dallas so much, but what he's incapable of becoming with his current style of coaching.