With the Dallas Cowboys playing better football, Head Coach Jason Garrett says he and the coaching staff are always making adjustments. Is it true?
Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett has been heavily criticized over the last few years for not making in-game adjustments. At times it has appeared to many pundits and fans that he didn’t like to adjust his game plan at all, even when it wasn’t working.
Exhibit A for this charge was the “burning of Atlanta” game in 2017 when quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked eight times. If you don’t recall the game, that puts you in the minority because it’s not the sort of contest one forgets easily.
This was the game in which Prescott was sacked eight times, six of them by Atlanta Falcons edge rusher Adrian Clayborn, the highlight of his career. It was during a three-game stretch in which Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith was out with a back injury.
Reserve offensive lineman Chaz Green started at left tackle and seemed to get beaten on every play. By the end of the game, he’d been dubbed “the human turnstile” due to his total inability to stop the rush.
Despite Green’s inept play, and the mauling of Prescott it caused, few if any adjustments were made until late in the game. Green was not benched until the fourth quarter, and a tight end was rarely brought over to help block, both solutions which seemed obvious fixes to viewers at the time.
Indeed, I have no doubt many were screaming at their TV sets in frustration. I know I was.
For the rest of the 2017 season, and through 2018, fans and pundits pointed to this inability or unwillingness to make in-game adjustments as a huge weakness in Garrett’s coaching. Indeed, many called for Garrett’s firing, with this as the chief accusation.
After all, making adjustments to the game plan during the action is the very essence of coaching. For the record, Dallas averaged 3.9 points in the 3rd quarter of the course of the 2018 season, placing the club 22nd in that statistic throughout the NFL.
However, over the first three games of this season, Dallas has been one of the best teams in the league in the 3rd quarter, averaging 11.7 points in that period over the first three games, good for second in the league. It’s almost like they’re a different team.
This improvement is clearly thrilling to Cowboys fans, but it also looks like a reversal in coaching philosophy. However, Garrett himself doesn’t see it that way. Below is a description of Jason Garrett’s semi-weekly press conference on September 23, a few days after the blowout victory against the Miami Dolphins.