The Cowboys’ loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow in Dallas.
Head coach Jason Garrett’s explanation for a controversial late decision isn’t going to make things any easier for the Cowboys faithful.
Garrett’s dubious decision vs. Patriots
One of the biggest points of contention over Garrett’s game management arrived via a late red-zone opportunity.
Trailing 13-6 with 6:04 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys faced fourth-and-7 at the New England 11-yard line. Rather than gamble on the do-or-die down, Garrett chose the conservative route.
He sent out kicker Brett Maher for a field goal attempt. Maher connected to cut the deficit to four points, leaving the Cowboys still needing a touchdown and giving the ball back to the Patriots with around six minutes remaining in regulation.
Neither team would score again as New England held on for the 13-9 win.
Cowboys coach explains himself
Garrett faced questioning over the decision Monday on his regular appearance with 105.3’s The Fan’s Shan & RJ. He explained that he didn’t like his chances with seven yards to go.
“Just over six minutes to go in the ball game,” Garrett said. “We obviously hadn’t done real well on third downs throughout the game, so fourth-and-7 was gonna be a challenging situation, particularly down there where you don’t have as much space.
“We felt like in that situation with that much time left in the ball game, just go ahead and make it a four-point game, let’s see if we can play defense, give our offense an opportunity to come back and win it.”
When asked if a shorter distance would have changed his mind, he said he would have considered going for it with around three yards to go.
“Fourth-and-7 is a little more challenging, particularly down in there tight,” Garrett said.
Garrett’s right on one point. Fourth-and-7 against a stout Patriots defense is a challenging situation. What that train of thought doesn’t consider is how challenging it is to win after giving the ball back to New England still trailing by more than a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
One thing has to go right to pick up a first down in the former situation. A lot of things have to go right in the latter.
Those things didn’t go right, and Jones was left telling reporters after the game “I shouldn’t be this frustrated.”
Garrett doesn’t use in-game analytics
Garrett’s explanation of his analytics approach also isn’t likely to gain him any favor with Jones or Cowboys fans.
When asked about the use of win probability statistics that are commonly used by coaches in 2019 to make decisions, Garrett’s response was curt and telling.
“We don’t use those stats within the game,” Garrett said.
That was the end of that portion of the interview.
Thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles losing to the Seattle Seahawks, the Cowboys still hold a one-game lead in the NFC East.
But the energy around Garrett right now isn’t that of a coach leading a division leader.
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