Former head coach Jason Garrett is known for his predictability. And in 2019, three Dallas Cowboys players lost big because of his lack of creativity.
The Dallas Cowboys finally parted ways with head coach Jason Garrett after ten years in January. During his tenure, Garrett failed to build a winning team around former quarterback Tony Romo and squandered yet another talented roster in 2019.
In his 13 years coaching for the Cowboys (his first three as an offensive coordinator), America’s Team was regularly criticized for predictable offensive schemes. In his defense, Garrett often referred to a process, implying to fans that things would eventually fall into place.
I haven’t seen any sign of a process from Garrett’s teams, but I’ve seen great coaching decisions when it comes to players in more successful programs. Like it or not, the New England Patriots have won nine AFC Championships and six Super Bowls behind the leadership of Bill Belichick, whose creativity has exploited many process-driven coaches.
From my observations, successful coaches like Belichick don’t look for players to fit their process but design their processes according to the strengths of players on their rosters. Here are three players who the Cowboys staff failed to take full advantage of in 2019 …
Devin Smith, WR
In his first four games as a Cowboy, wide receiver Devin Smith appeared to be making a comeback after suffering an ACL injury while playing for the New York Jets in 2017. He caught five passes in games two and three for 113 yards and a touchdown. During game four, he only received one target. After that, he was all but forgotten by the Cowboys coaching staff. Smith spent the final 12 games either inactive or chilling on the sideline.
Dalton Schultz, TE
In 2018, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz was targeted 17 times, catching 12 passes for an average of 9.67 yards per reception. He posted a 70 percent reception rate. In 2019, Schultz was only targeted twice the whole season, recording only one reception.
Tony Pollard, RB
Any fantasy that running back Tony Pollard would be used like next Darren Sproles was eliminated by the Cowboys lack of creativity. Although Pollard rushed 86 times for 455 yards (5.3 avg), he only received 20 targets in the passing game, catching 15 for 107 yards on the season.
Maybe, like me, you had big eyes during Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout when Pollard looked as if he could be a starting running back. Maybe he and Zeke reminded you of the running back tandem (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) that carried the Carolina Panthers into the playoffs with two 1,000-yard rushers.
Maybe, like me, you thought Dalton Schultz plus Blake Jarwin plus Jason Witten seemed liked a three-tight-end group that could trump the two-tight end scheme Belichick created with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in New England.
Maybe, like me, you imagined Elliott and Tony Pollard having the type of impact catching out of the backfield that running back Ray Rice had for the Baltimore Ravens from 2009-2012 when he averaged 70 receptions for 610 yards over the four-year span.
When you consider the amount of offensive talent the Dallas Cowboys had in 2019, it seems numerous players were not used effectively. America’s Team should have been a nightmare for defenses if not for Jason Garrett and Kellen Moore’s uninspired offense. Fortunately, Garrett has moved on to the New York Giants, a divisional rival where his predictable process can finally be beneficial to the Cowboys.