Found January 02, 2013 on Fox Sports Southwest:
As we sift through the rubble of another late-season failure, we are constantly reminded that the defense was hit with circumstances that nearly made their tasks impossible by the end of the year. The inside linebackers were different, the safeties were different, and the defensive line was different than what left training camp. Only the 2 outside linebackers and the 2 starting cornerbacks resembled the actual play of August and September. Meanwhile, there is no such convenient excuses for the offense. The 11 starters who started Week 16 were the exact same 11 players who played the majority of the snaps of the season opener in New York. I say it that way because we all remember Phil Costa took the first 3 snaps of the season at center and then barely played again the rest of the year (he took a total of 126 snaps, Ryan Cook played 837 at center). Otherwise, it was Romo with Murray and Vickers; Witten, Bryant, and Austin as the main targets; and Smith, Livings, Bernadeau, and Free across the front. They were beat up and the receivers could not finish the game, but 11 of the 11 players from Week 1 were there and ready in Week 16 in Washington. And, in fairness, the offense played some of its better football late in the season when the defense was holding on for dear life. But that ended in Washington, where the Cowboys had one of their worst offensive performances at just the wrong time. But, let's be careful how we label this one. Because there is a real difference between the season-view of certain failures and Sunday's failure. Many times this season, the offensive line and the running game betrayed them. Other times, the game plan seemed overly conservative or careful. Still others, there was no pass protection to speak of. But, in this particular game, the coaches will look at the tape and they will see evidence of things that will drive them absolutely crazy. For instance, in the volatile running game results that were predictably poor all season, the Cowboys ran the ball with great effectiveness in Washington. Without the aid of only 1 run of over 10 yards, the Cowboys found consistent running in small, but useful chunks all game long. 4.5 yards per carry in a divisional road game was almost too good to be true. It was the 3rd best results of their season (only at New York and at Baltimore were better) and I am quite sure that they all would have signed up for those results before the game started. Further, the average starting field position of each drive was 2nd best for the season. They was only one other game all season (Tampa Bay) where the Cowboys were given the ball at an average better spot than their own 33 yard line. They ran the ball well. They "stayed ahead of the chains". They were balanced up and further, they were actually quite efficient on 3rd Downs. Further, they played a team that passed for only 100 yards. Most weeks, indicators like all of these would point to a Cowboys offense that was healthy and probably had plenty of success. The symptoms point to a game that was probably won. And almost none of it mattered because they were sabotaged by taking a -3 in the turnover margin. And of those 3 picks, almost all of the blame of the throws must go to the Quarterback and the fact that he was done in by a coach (Jim Haslett) who beat him with strong corner play on Dez Bryant and very little else that was remarkable - save for an insatiable thirst to bring pressure all day long. We detailed the issues on Monday Morning in our "Morning After" column, where it seems they were betrayed by Tony Romo. Playing an opponent for the 2nd time and being a veteran QB who had "seen it all", Romo had to be able to back off the pressure by making the Redskins pay. Instead, it was a constant battle against the play clock to get his troops deployed and then to get the snap off before what appeared to often be a rather panicked few seconds of avoiding blitzers. From Monday: The Redskins blitzed at every opportunity.In fact, for the game, they blitzed in 25 of 39 passing scenarios and 24 of 34 when the Cowboys were in shotgun. They blitzed and blitzed. And on 2nd down, Jim Haslett sent pressure on 8 of 11 passes, and on 3rd Down it was 10 out of 12. They dared the Cowboys to beat them, and the Cowboys did not. Instead, the 3 interceptions - each for different reasons, but all 3 were deadly - proved to be more than the team could overcome. I repeat what I have said before: This is NOT like the other end of season failures where everything could be blamed. This was a game that after further examination remains one in which so many things went better than expected that the game simply came down to one team protecting the football and one team did not. -3. Let us remind again what that number means: But, in the end, they lost because they took a -3 in their biggest game of the year. With 116 games in Cowboys history in which they were a -3 in turnover differential, the Cowboys record falls to a 10-104-2 record. And in the Romo-era? Well, the record is now 1-15. In other words, you don't win games when you turn the ball over that much.Further, we can expand it beyond the Cowboys. In the entire NFL since 2010, the record for teams winning a game in which they are a "-3" in turnover ratio is 7-149. That means you have roughly a 4 chance of winning any game in which you are that careless with the football. Again, my thoughts on the Tony Romo era continuing are not a secret, but there is no rationale anywhere for a team being able to compete and win when their most important player lays an egg at just the wrong moment like Romo did Sunday night in Washington. And for that, it is pointless to defend his career right now. This is a time where he unfortunately played like his critics have claimed all along. Data from Week 16 at Washington: Run-Pass22-39Starting Field PositionD 33 1st Down Run-Pass13-15 2nd Down Avg Distance to Go6.35 2nd Down Run-Pass8-12 3rd Down Avg Distance to Go6.69 3rd4th Down Run-Pass1-12 3rd Down Conversions7-13, 54 PASSING CHARTS: Here are the passing charts to see what was being accomplished on Sunday. Blue is a completion. Red is incomplete. Yellow is a touchdown, and Black is an interception. The passes are lines from where Romo released the pass to where the pass was caught. This shows you his release point and where he likes to throw when he slides in the pocket. 1st Half - 2nd Half - Look how poorly the ball went out to the right flank. On good nights, that is where the Cowboys do most of their damage. But, look at all of the red over there. Nothing could get cooking. Rather, most of Romo's yards came on the favorite "Dig" route - the 15 yard deep in that is completed straight ahead and between the hash marks. This chart shows balls thrown to Dez Bryant - he has won his battles with DeAngelo Hall over his short career, but on this night, there is no doubt the big mouthed corner got the decision. Drive Starters -The 1st play of each drive can often reveal the intent of a coach to establish his game plan. How committed is he to the run or pass when the team comes off the sideline? We track it each week here - Wk 1-At New York: 9 Drives - 5 Run4 Pass Wk 2-At Seattle: 9 Drives - 3 Run6 Pass Wk 3-Tampa Bay: 13 Drives - 7 Run6 Pass Wk 4-Chicago: 11 Drives - 3 Run8 Pass Wk 5-At Baltimore: 10 Drives - 8 Run2 Pass Wk 6-At Carolina 10 Drives - 6 Run4 Pass Wk 7-New York: 14 Drives - 4 Run10 Pass Wk 8-At Atlanta: 9 Drives - 4 Run5 Pass Wk 9-At Philadelphia: 10 Drives - 6 Run4 Pass Wk 10-Cleveland: 13 Drives - 5 Run8 Pass Wk 11-Washington: 12 Drives - 3 Run9 Pass Wk 12-Philadelphia: 8 Drives - 5 Run3 Pass Wk 13-At Cincinnati: 10 Drives - 5 Run5 Pass Wk 14-Pittsburgh: 12 Drives - 4 Run8 Pass Wk 15-New Orleans: 12 Drives - 4 Run8 Pass Wk 16-At Washington: 11 Drives - 4 Run7 Pass Season: 173 Drives 76 Run97 Pass - 43.9 Run This statistic doesn't count the 1-play kneel down drives (there are 6 this year). 2011 Total: 181 Drives - 79 Run102 Pass 44 Run SHOTGUN SNAPS- Shotgun snaps are fine on 3rd Down and in the 2 minute drill. But, we track this stat from week to week to make sure the Cowboys aren't getting too lazy in using it. They are not efficient enough to run it as their base, and with a 1585 runpass split across the league, there is no way the defense respects your running game. When shotgun totals are high, the Cowboys are generally behind, scared of their offensive line, or frustrated. High Shotgun numbers are not this team's calling card for success. The Cowboys must decide what to do about this issue in 2013. The trend and differences from 2011 are startling. Wk 1 - at NYG: 1554 27.7 Wk 2 - at Sea: 2956 52 Wk 3 - TB: 3463 54 Wk 4 - Chi: 5068 74 Wk 5 - at Balt: 1979 24 Wk 6 - at Car: 2264 34 Wk 7 - NYG: 4883 58 Wk 8 - at Atl: 2954 54 Wk 9 - at Phil: 1754 31 Wk 10 - Cle: 5276 68 Wk 11 - Wash: 6275 83 Wk 12 - Phil: 2462 38 Wk 13 - Cin: 4370 61 Wk 14 - Pit: 3563 55 Wk 15 - NO: 4256 75 Wk 16 - Wash: 3461 56 2012 Season Total: 5651038 54 2011 Total - 4451012 43.9 Here is the breakdown by groupings: Before you study the data below, I would recommend that if the numbers for the groupings are unfamiliar, that you spend some time reading a more expanded definition of thePersonnel Groupings here. Totals by Personnel Groups: Now, as you look at the breakdown with personnel groupings, it is actually interesting to see how the Cowboys did not try a whole lot of deception. When they went under center, they were primarily running the ball - 27 snaps and 21 of those were running plays - all for good yardage. And when they went to shotgun, they passed. 34 snaps and 33 were passes. This does make us ask if more could have been done to cross up the Redskins defense a bit with more balanced attacks either way. If they are sending the house when you are in shotgun, do you have a chance to sneak a run through their blitz? Because if you can break through the blitz, there should be nothing but green grass. PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass114203-91-11123331-92-2413000-00-021147112-592-12225104-141-(-4)23111-10-0S013320-03-32S02000-00-0S1119721-818-64S1212560-012-56Knee000-00-0Totals6129522-10039-195 - Knee Plays are not counted in play calls. Totals by Personnel Groups on 3rd4th Down: PackagePlaysYardsRunPassFDTD11000-00-00012000-00-00013000-00-00021000-00-00022000-00-00023111-10-010S012320-02-3211S10000-00-000S1110330-010-3311S12000-00-000Totals13661-112-6532 In the end, we find that this is a game where the statistics do not tell the whole story, unless you see that turnover margin that pretty much canceled out all of the good that was accomplished. As a play caller, I have plenty of issues with Jason Garrett over the course of 6 seasons. But, in a one-game portrait, he did his job reasonably well. Did they try enough screen plays to take the pressure off the inside? No, but they did throw several passes out to the edge to beat the blitz - including the last interception. The throw betrayed the strategy. Garrett deployed the troops, but his QB has to make great decisions. A coach cannot make them for him after he prepares him the best he can. And in this game, I don't believe you can blame the offensive line, the play calling, or any other target. This seems like the rare occasion where the Cowboys were just sabotaged by inferior QB play that was mostly based on a few decisions that did not value the ball enough or the game situation (the last INT was a risky throw on 1st Down). Most Sundays, if Tony Romo is your QB, you are going to be alright. This game, with everything on the line, was not one of them.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Cowboys still seek to sign Romo to long-term extension

Despite his three interceptions in a must-win game on Sunday night against Washington, the Dallas Cowboys still want to sign quarterback Tony Romo to a long-term contract extension. “We have a great belief of Tony Romo as our quarterback,” said head coach Jason Garrett, via the Dallas Morning News.  “Tony has won a lot of big games for us, too, to get us to the point where...

Tony Romo jersey and a washing machine felt the wrath of one ticked off, well armed Cowboys fan

Fans can go a little overboard at times, burning the jerseys of star players on their favorite teams when said player comes up short in a meaningful game, but nothing compares to this irate Cowboys fan who was so incensed at Dallas QB Tony Romo following his 3 INT game against Washington in the season finale, that he chose a much louder, much more unstable way of disposing of his...
SPIN CYCLE

Fan blows up Tony Romo jersey

The Internet can be a scary place, and this is one of those videos which makes me uncomfortable. Check out the below video of a Cowboys fan who filled up a washing machine with fireworks, put a Tony Romo jersey on it, and then proceeded to shoot it with a rifle. It also seems to be quite the family affair as a young boy and what sounds like a lady also cheer on the destruction...

Cowboys Fan Destroys Tony Romo Jersey by Shooting Washing Machine Filled With Explosives (Video)

Jersey burning is so 2012. What’s in for the new year, you ask? Why, explosions, of course! One enterprising Cowboys fan wanted to dispose of his Tony Romo jersey after another Week 17 meltdown by the Dallas quarterback, so he did what any reasonable fan would do: place the uniform on a washing machine filled with explosives, and then shoot it until it blows up. Getting rid of...

Cowboys Fans Burn Tony Romo Jerseys

The Dallas Cowboys (8-8) have a massive and passionate fanbase. When the team finished the 2012 NFL regular season with a 28-18 loss in the Week 17 battle for the NFC East title against the Washington Redskins on Sunday Night Football, excitement erupted in the nation’s capitol as rookie QB Robert Griffin III and rookie RB Alfred Morris helped to lead Washington to host its first...

RG3 to Romo: “Don’t listen to what anybody else is saying about you”

After Sunday night’s Redskins – Cowboys NFC East title game, Robert Griffin III told Tony Romo not to listen to all the negative comments and that he’s not a good quarterback.Showtime’s Inside the NFL will air audio live  on their show tonight.. @rgiii wired for sound to Romo – “Don’t listen to what anybody else is saying about you. You’re a great quarterback, man...

Tony Romo, Cowboys to Work on Contract Extension, With Jason Garrett Saying Romo Is ‘Big Part’ of Team’s Future

In Chicago and Philadelphia, years and years of winning but no playoffs this season has cost two NFL head coaches their jobs. In Dallas, coming up short — but still playing for a playoff spot — is apparently bolstering support for quarterback Tony Romo. Brandon George of the Dallas News says the Cowboys hope to sign Romo to an offseason contract extension. Romo, who has been...

Robert Griffin III Consoled Tony Romo After Cowboys’ Loss to Redskins on Sunday

It won’t be an easy offseason for Tony Romo after losing the sixth elimination game of his career. But Robert Griffin III tried to ease the pain for the Cowboys’ quarterback after the Redskins knocked Romo out of playoff contention. Griffin headed straight for Romo after Sunday night’s game, and told him to ignore his detractors. “Hey Tony. I just wanted to say to you, don’t...

Cowboys can't shake gloom of late-season flops

(Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated. With AP Photos.) By SCHUYLER DIXON AP Sports Writer Tony Romo sat alone on the Dallas bench, his stare frozen at the ground on a cold night in Washington. Any number of things could have been going through the mind of the Cowboys quarterback in the final minutes of a 28-18 loss to the Redskins on Sunday night. It was his third playoffs-or-bust failure...
DOUBLE-J SMASH!

Jones promises changes are coming

Following a disappointing season, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said folks in the organization should prepare themselves for an uncomfortable offseason.

Jones to make life 'uncomfortable' for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones promised changes Wednesday after his team missed the NFL playoffs after a second straight 8-8 season that concluded Sunday with a loss to the Washington Redskins. "I'm very disappointed. I thought we missed a great opportunity," Jones told KRLD-FM in Dallas. "I can assure our fans this, that it's going...

Jones: Changes are coming for Cowboys

After the Dallas Cowboys returned home on Monday from their season-ending loss in Washington on Sunday night, everything felt and looked the same. Jason Garrett survived "Black Monday" and held his usual day-after press conference, still holding the title of head coach. Tony Romo was still the Cowboys starting quarterback, despite another final-game collapse in which...

Jason Garrett open to play-calling changes

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said he's open to changes and would even give up his play-calling duties. "We would just talk it through,"Garrett said about about a possible meeting with owner Jerry Jones. "Again, line one for me in the position that I'm in is, 'What's best for the Dallas Cowboys' in every way, shape or form, however we...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.