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Sturm: The Morning After - Cowboys get in their own way, give another game away to Packers

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  • Sturm: The Morning After - Cowboys get in their own way, give another game away to Packers


    By Bob Sturm 1h ago

    The entire football world was watching Sunday afternoon as Green Bay visited AT&T Stadium and brought back all sorts of memories from previous visits for players wearing either uniform. This is one of the best rivalries in all of professional football, and both sides have definitely experienced the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat. But, in this building that Jerry Jones built, it certainly seems to keep going in the same general direction and for the same basic reasons.

    Green Bay beat Dallas Sunday largely because the Cowboys offense suffered repeated self-inflicted wounds and buried themselves early in the game (31-3). They were forced to drop their gameplan and strengths to open up the offense in a furious rally attempt. It ultimately fell short, and the defeat could be traced back to the way the game started rather than the dramatic way it almost swerved at its conclusion.

    The 2016 playoff game was incredibly similar in many respects, as Dallas was beaten largely because its offense suffered from self-inflicted wounds and buried themselves early in the game (21-3). They were forced to drop their gameplan and strengths to open up the offense in a furious rally attempt. It ultimately fell short, and the defeat could be traced back to the way the game started rather than the dramatic way it almost swerved at its conclusion.

    The 2016 loss required an Aaron Rodgers miracle and a Mason Crosby kick, but this lower-stakes Week 5 game in 2019 only required a fourth-quarter interception and a missed field goal from 33 yards that should have Brett Maher under close review this week.

    In both games, as well as the one in 2013 in which Aaron Rodgers didn’t even play — and then the Week 5 game in 2017 — the Cowboys have been favored. Those are the only four times when Green Bay has visited their new stadium. In none of these four meetings have the Cowboys won the turnover battle. And although each game has taken on its own flow and plot lines, of course, the total record is 0-4.

    It is incredibly frustrating for all involved to see this trend continue because the offense has been productive each time – productive, in the sense that the yardage production was there each time. Additionally, they have scored 122 points between the four meetings. Yet, somehow, they have not won a single game. The 24 Dallas scored on Sunday were by far the fewest they have put up in any of the four games, but it seems to be pretty simple when they play the Packers:

    Green Bay doesn’t make the horrible mistake that Dallas always does.

    Photo courtesy: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    In 2013, up 36-31 with less than 3 minutes to go, Tony Romo threw a horrendous interception on second down to Sam Shields in Cowboys territory with no real reason to force the ball. Green Bay scored with Matt Flynn leading the drive, and then Romo threw another interception while trying to rally in the final minute.

    In 2016, down 28-13 with 22 minutes to play and inside the Packers 20 again after a furious rally, Prescott thought he saw a WR screen on 2nd-and-1 to Dez Bryant, which Micah Hyde read and jumped to pick off and put out the fire.

    In 2017, up 24-22 with under 10 minutes to go, the Cowboys faced a 2nd-and-7 at their own 15. A short, careful pass to Terrance Williams bounced right off his arms and into the hands of Damarious Randall, who jogged in for a pick-six. The game was in a good spot until an unforced error put the ball back in Green Bay’s hands.

    And in 2019, you can pick from so many different plays, it will make you want to lay down:
    • Surely the one that will stick out has to be on the opening drive of the game, as the Cowboys walk all the way down the field and face no defensive resistance. The Cowboys scheme up a beautiful route combination that leaves Amari Cooper well inside a trailing Jaire Alexander. When the ball is caught, he will be able to prance into the end zone easily. Instead, the pass hits Cooper slightly in both hands and slightly behind him. It ends up deflecting right to Alexander for an easy and needless interception. The throw should have been better, but the catch should have been simple. Cooper is a magnificent player who occasionally imagines his next maneuver before completing his current one, and this time it cost him and his team very badly.
    • Third-down sacks are hardly a self-inflicted crime, because the defense has to destroy the man trying to block them. But when they happen repeatedly without the benefit of a blitz, you are disappointed in your protection, execution and scheme for letting you down again. We certainly anticipated that missing Tyron Smith would be a real issue, but the belief was that Cam Fleming could hold the rope and be OK without channeling Chaz Green. But Za’Darius Smith is destructive all day, and La’el Collins collapses against Preston Smith on the fourth drive, which kills a promising push out to midfield. Add to it the red-zone sack in the third quarter that turned a touchdown opportunity into just a field goal, down 24-0, and you can see that protection breakdowns at the most disastrous moments littered the crime scene.
    • The second interception of the day is perhaps the biggest killer of them all. The Cowboys are on the move, and while it is 14-0, they are fine because the second quarter has just begun and the Packers are playing without any receiver of note. It is 2nd-and-11, and the check-down to Ezekiel Elliott is available. But Prescott believes he sees Randall Cobb open, streaking across the middle by the sticks. Chandon Sullivan, who has not played a meaningful snap with Green Bay before this moment and is only on the field because of injuries, falls back after faking towards Elliott to hit the precise spot where Prescott is throwing. He is a dropping zone defender that the QB was sure was too shallow to cause an issue. He was wrong, and yet another promising drive hits the skids unnecessarily.
    • The fifth drive is halted at just the wrong time. Green Bay was stopped at the one-yard line and settled for a field goal to go up 17-0 late in the second quarter. However, this is a perfect time to take advantage of the “double up,” because Dallas is receiving the kickoff with 2:15 in the first half and also will get the ball after the intermission. This is perfect, and the goal should be to make sure you score twice (at least one touchdown) and have this game back to 17-10 or so by the next time Aaron Rodgers takes a meaningful snap. Dallas marches right down the field with three quick first downs on consecutive plays to move all the way to the Green Bay 41 without the slightest resistance. But, on 2nd-and-5, Fleming is beaten again to the outside by Kyler Fackrell, and Prescott is hit as he is trying to throw to Gallup downfield. 3rd-and-5 sees Mike Pettine bring a six-man pressure where Zeke has to decide whether to pick up the linebacker Blake Martinez or the safety Adrian Amos. He picks Martinez, and that means Amos is performing a two-legged takedown of Prescott as Dak is trying to hit Randall Cobb down the sideline. Needless to say, the ball sails out of play. Instead of considering a 4th-and-5 – down 17, you should really consider it very strongly, coach – they run on a mediocre kicker who somehow is credited with being great from long distance, who then promptly misses the field goal of 54-yards.
    • Drive No. 11 sees the Cowboys amazingly still in the game and well within striking distance at 31-17 with 10:29 still to play. This was only a one-play drive, one in which Prescott throws his third interception. The first one was not his fault; the second one absolutely was. This third pick is a middle ground: He wants Michael Gallup but throws the ball behind him, which seems to suggest that Gallup was planning one thing and Prescott wasn’t on the same page. Clearly, Packers corner Kevin King is all over Gallup, and a missed call certainly doesn’t help. On the other hand, Randall Cobb is wide open right in front of his face for an easy six-to-10-yard gain. Forcing the ball into traffic in this situation is just not the optimal decision. We have seen in these last few weeks that impatience is starting to creep in and a quarterback known for not forcing the ball into bad looks is starting to force plays. Should he have received a call there? Well, it is dangerous to depend upon it. You will never go broke taking the profit to Cobb on first down.

    We could go on, but you get the idea by now. This offense could get 12 yards anytime they wanted all day long but had to know going into the game that the only way they lose is if they get upside down in the turnover game. Heck, I even wrote that in my Friday preview (in which I assumed the Cowboys would win):

    This game will test the Cowboys’ ability to block out the noise and do what the film tells them to do, and I think they will. Zeke will have 25 to 30 touches, and the Cowboys will pull away in the 2nd half, 27-20. The only way Green Bay can win would be to be a +2 or better in the turnover margin. Dallas simply needs to not force plays that aren’t there.

    That’s right: The only way Green Bay wins this game without the benefit of Davante Adams – Green Bay won a road game in which they had no wide receiver get to 30 yards and were 4 of 12 for 55 yards on all passes to wideouts! – is to be +2 or better in the turnovers, which Dallas has to know! Well, the Packers ended up at +3, partly because the Cowboys committed unforced errors. If there is one thing an aging Aaron Rodgers won’t do often, it is throw careless balls into coverage. He will wait until you make the mistake, and if you refuse, then you should win. If you comply, you will be pretty disgusted on Monday morning.

    Of course, the other thing we did not see coming was the defense losing their ability to deal with a running game — something Green Bay is certainly not known for. Yet Aaron Jones followed his 2017 date in Arlington with another successful homecoming. Just one week after handling Alvin Kamara so well, it sure looked like Leighton Vander Esch struggled as much as he ever has against Jones in the flat, as Rodgers tried to find a passing game while using almost nothing but Jones and tight ends. Jones ran the ball right between the tackles effectively and then would get out wide on pass plays, totaling a ridiculous 182 total yards on 26 touches and making LVE and his mates miss all too often, including nine different plays of double-digit yards. Lest anyone forget, he also scored four touchdowns — including one where he is waving goodbye right in the face of Byron Jones, who had no success containing Jones all day.

    It is odd because we knew Green Bay had problems in 11 personnel and on third downs. We knew they would have a hard time putting up points without turnovers, and if they fell behind, they would have no chance because of no wide receivers of consequence being available. We also knew that the Cowboys’ best attack is with Zeke and the play-action game, and it all worked, until the self-inflicted errors made Zeke nothing more than an amazingly well-paid blitz pickup man once play-action became useless. Almost nothing from this game was a major surprise. And yet the Cowboys let opportunity after opportunity slip through their fingers, even when they were coming off a loss to New Orleans when they played just well enough to lose.

    People will want to mock this team right now. They will want to dish out blame in specific places. I think it is pretty clear that this was a well-shared defeat where sheltering anyone might be missing the boat. The quarterback was poor; Amari Cooper tilted the game negatively despite being fantastic for most of it; the offensive line had a massive letdown; and the Cowboys’ most dependable defenders seemed to be either poor or anonymous for most of the day.

    Some days, you just get beaten. While that won’t make anyone feel better, this failure was so widespread that it might be best to turn the page as soon as possible. The Cowboys had a chance to convince their critics that they were a legitimate heavyweight, and the last eight days show us that statement will have to wait.

    In many ways, they did this to themselves. If you want to beat good teams, then you have to start by not beating yourself.

    That clearly didn’t happen Sunday.
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

  • #2
    when you lose 8 of the last 10, you aint "giving away" jack shit

    they've proven to be better in every sense consistently and I have no reason to think it will change

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by yimyammer View Post
      when you lose 8 of the last 10, you aint "giving away" jack shit

      they've proven to be better in every sense consistently and I have no reason to think it will change
      It can be explained by simply saying Aaron Rogers. He has had the Cowboys number from the git go. He has even played on one leg and still lead the Cowboys by the nose. It will take a more intelligent head than Jason Garrett’s to set him down. He has by far been the most frustrating football player that Dallas has had to deal with over the past 8 or so years.
      Since Day One

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      • #4
        Originally posted by L.T. Fan View Post

        It can be explained by simply saying Aaron Rogers. He has had the Cowboys number from the git go. He has even played on one leg and still lead the Cowboys by the nose. It will take a more intelligent head than Jason Garrett’s to set him down. He has by far been the most frustrating football player that Dallas has had to deal with over the past 8 or so years.
        its uncanny the way he owns this team. I dont recall any domination more thorough
        defense wins championships

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        • #5
          As far as I can tell Garrett's only responsibility is to have the team motivated/focused/ready to play. The fact that the team came out so flat and sloppy after a loss, while Garrett seemingly has little to no responsibility over the actual X's/O's, is a huge indictment on how shitty of a coach he is. Prescott saying that they were overconfident after starting 3-0 all but cemented it, and I'm sure Garrett was all too willing to let them tell themselves they were fine because they would've won the Saints game if not for the fumbles.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Simpleton View Post
            As far as I can tell Garrett's only responsibility is to have the team motivated/focused/ready to play. The fact that the team came out so flat and sloppy after a loss, while Garrett seemingly has little to no responsibility over the actual X's/O's, is a huge indictment on how shitty of a coach he is. Prescott saying that they were overconfident after starting 3-0 all but cemented it, and I'm sure Garrett was all too willing to let them tell themselves they were fine because they would've won the Saints game if not for the fumbles.
            This team has no reason to buy into any hype.

            Sounds like the GM needs to step in and bring everyone down a few notches.



            Oh.

            Wait.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Simpleton View Post
              As far as I can tell Garrett's only responsibility is to have the team motivated/focused/ready to play.
              I think he's a glorified mouthpiece for jeri who controls all the strings behind the scenes. Because he's a good little soldier that tows the company line and never makes jeri uncomfortable is why jeri is loath to get rid of him.

              I think jeri would love to just coach the team himself but he doesnt have the balls to do it so he set up this castrated system where a guy like Garrett plays the role as cast by the idiot gm

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              • #8
                Originally posted by yimyammer View Post

                I think he's a glorified mouthpiece for jeri who controls all the strings behind the scenes. Because he's a good little soldier that tows the company line and never makes jeri uncomfortable is why jeri is loath to get rid of him.

                I think jeri would love to just coach the team himself but he doesnt have the balls to do it so he set up this castrated system where a guy like Garrett plays the role as cast by the idiot gm
                Jerry has all but said he hired Garrett so he could train and develop him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What happened to all the pre-season and early-season hype about how "loaded" this team is? Hell, even I believed it, and I should know better.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The roster is pretty loaded, if we had a top-level coaching staff this team would easily be a top 3-5 contender.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Simpleton View Post
                      The roster is pretty loaded, if we had a top-level coaching staff this team would easily be a top 3-5 contender.
                      Do you mean a top-level coaching staff in terms of schemes -- offense and/or defense? Or a top-level coaching staff in terms of teaching, getting the most out an individual player?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by deadrise View Post
                        What happened to all the pre-season and early-season hype about how "loaded" this team is? Hell, even I believed it, and I should know better.
                        This team has had a roster that was good enough to compete for the last several years. Someone finally took the keys away from ol Jerruh in the draft room, but as far as winning games the 2 constants have been the Jones family and Garrett.

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                        • #13
                          Dallas lost to a team whose WR's netted 55 yards. Let that sink in for a moment. If Jerry was a real GM, every coach on that sideline would be on the street.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cowboysrock55 View Post

                            Jerry has all but said he hired Garrett so he could train and develop him.
                            blind leading the blind inexperienced

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by L.T. Fan View Post

                              It can be explained by simply saying Aaron Rogers. He has had the Cowboys number from the git go. He has even played on one leg and still lead the Cowboys by the nose. It will take a more intelligent head than Jason Garrett’s to set him down. He has by far been the most frustrating football player that Dallas has had to deal with over the past 8 or so years.
                              Man is so powerful, Rodgers beats us when on the sideline, too (Matt Flynn game).

                              However, Rodgers doesn’t play defense. How does Rodgers cause Demarco Murray to fumble, for Amari Cooper to bobble, for Romo to throw an INT up 5 points with minutes to go?

                              Must be Rodgers.

                              hmmmmmm...

                              Comment

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