The surface view is the constant 8-8. What I am more interested in is the important aspects of that continual mediocrity. In the three and a half years under Garrett, Dallas has gotten worse every year when it comes to beating good teams. When facing a team that was over .500 at the time of the game, Dallas was 3-2 in 2010, 3-3 in 2011, 2-5 in 2012 and 0-5 in 2013. That’s regression, not progression. The defense has trended the same way under Garrett’s presence, going from being ranked 16th in points allowed and 14th in yards allowed in 2011 to 24th and 19th in 2012 and 26th and 32nd in 2013.
Regression not progression.
And if you want to tell me that he’s not responsible for the defense and he’s an “offensive-minded” coach then I will say that he’s no longer a coordinator, he’s a head coach. It’s his responsibility to oversee the entire team and if you don’t understand that, then how about this. His offensive approach and philosophy of being overly pass happy and reluctant to run the football puts the defense in positions it should not be in. See Detroit in 2011 or Green Bay from Week 15 this year.
Then there is the topic of close games. In games decided by four points or less under Garrett, the Cowboys are 13-14. If it was not for a record of 7-2 in those games against below .500 teams, that would look far, far worse. One. Why do you have nine games that need to be that close against bad teams? Two. The Cowboys have never had a season under Garrett where they won more close games than they lost against .500 or better teams including going 0-5 this year. Where is the hope that even if they made the playoffs, they would win a game?… you know because playoff teams generally tend to be over .500.
The last part of the record I would like to explore is point differential. Again, in regards to the games against .500 teams, the numbers continually trend downward. From 2010 (+5.0 points) to 2011 (+2.83 points) to 2012 (-5 points) to 2013 (-7.8 points) the chasm in production against the top teams continues to get wider.
Regression not progression.
I know that Jerry is the GM and the drafts and free agent signings largely fall in his court but please do not be naive enough to think that Garrett does not have a say in this field. His hands are blood soaked as well. Since the 2011 draft, the Cowboys have had 23 draft picks. Of those picks, only five would I grade as a successful pick given the round, draft slot and other available options at the time of the pick. Three of those came in 2011 when Dallas selected Tyron Smith with the ninth pick in round 1, DeMarco Murray in the middle of round 3 and Dwayne Harris in round six. The other two came this year with Travis Frederick late in round one and Terrance Williams early in round three.
As if hitting on only 22% of your choices was not bad enough, the misses exacerbate that deficiency. The three most glaring hurt every time I think about it. In the 2011 draft, round five saw Dallas select defensive back Josh Thomas. Thomas never played for the Cowboys and in three years with Carolina, has one interception. Eleven picks later, Seattle selected a defensive back as well by the name of Richard Sherman. Sherman has 20 interceptions in that same time span, including leading the league this year. He’s a Pro-Bowler and an All-Pro. Strike one.
The next year’s draft had Dallas move up, trading away a second round pick to move up eight spots in order to draft another defensive back in Morris Claiborne. Claiborne has missed seven games in two years and has been mostly unproductive in the games in which he has played, even losing his starting job already midway through his second year. Three picks later, Carolina chose linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly was named to the Pro-Bowl this year, was the fourth leading tackler in the league and will likely be at minimum an All-Pro and possibly the Defensive Player of the Year. Strike two.
In the same draft, the Cowboys wasted back to back mid round picks on Matt Johnson (round 4) and Danny Coale (round 5) who have never played a game due to their constant injury status. In the beginning of round six, our divisional rival Washington Redskins selected running back Alfred Morris. Morris has almost 3,000 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns in two years… and he plays for a team we have to see twice a year. Strike three.
In three drafts under Garrett, Dallas has obtained three starters and two role players. Do you think that has something to do with the constant culture of mediocrity?
Ultimately, it all does not matter because 2014 will feature Jason Garrett on the sideline as the leader of the mediocre Cowboys. Looking at next year’s schedule, Dallas has eight games against teams that finished .500 or better this year and another four against teams who finished 7-9 including the Rams who will be better and the Giants twice. It is certainly not out of the question to forecast another 8-8 at best season next year. At least then, maybe… just maybe we can shop for a new coach at that time.