Jason Garrett still hasn’t learned from his mistakes

Jason Garrett still hasn’t learned. Two weeks after his conservatism cost the Cowboys a game in Houston – and drew criticism from Jerry Jones – Garrett was given another chance to be aggressive and play for a win.

His Cowboys were on the verge of erasing a 10-point deficit in Washington. Dak Prescott had just hit Cole Beasley on third down to push the ball to the Redskins’ 46-yard-line. With 56 seconds remaining on the clock, Dallas, which had one timeout remaining, conceivably had time for four or five plays to either go for a win or get into more makeable field goal range.

Instead, the Cowboys went conservative again. Prescott made two short throws to Beasley before a short running play by Ezekiel Elliott, followed by that last timeout. Dallas had used 40 seconds and a timeout to move the ball only 15 yards. That set up a game-tying kick from 47 yards out. A makeable kick, sure, but not a gimme either. A pre-snap penalty by long-snapper J.P. Ladoceur made it even more difficult. He was called for a snap infraction, which pushed the kick back five yards yards. Kicker Brett Maher pinged the left upright.

Game over.

As so often happens, a coach who played for a tie, rather than going for the win, ended up with neither. Maybe, just maybe, this would provide Garrett with a moment of clarity. Judging by his postgame comments, it did not.

Via the Star-Telegram:

“The biggest thing after we got ourselves into field goal range was to try to get up there and clock the ball, preserve that last timeout and then give us the freedom,” Garrett said. “I think we were trying to get the ball down to 12 seconds. So once we got down to that point, the biggest thing that we wanted to do was maximize the field goal opportunity and run the ball, make some yards, use the timeout and then kick the game-tying field goal.”

At no point during that answer did Garrett even mention the word “win,” and there’s the problem. You’d think actually winning the game would be “the biggest thing.” After all, the Cowboys had plenty of time to go for that win. At the very least, they had enough time to set Maher up for a much easier kick; but that, of course, would require Garrett to take a risk, which is something he just isn’t willing to do, apparently.

And what exactly does Garrett mean by “maximize the field goal opportunity?” That’s not a rhetorical question, either. I’m really at a loss. Maybe he means “maximize the chances of the field goal being made,” but continuing to try to march the ball downfield would have been a much more effective strategy if that was, in fact, Garrett’s desire.

The loss dropped the Cowboys to 3-4. They could easily be 5-2 with some more aggressive decision-making, but expecting Garrett to flip a switch after eight years is just irrational.

It’s been a problem since 2011. This is who Garrett is, and he doesn’t even seem to realize how his conservative approach is costing the Cowboys. It’s awfully difficult to fix something you don’t even realize is broken.


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