By: The Drive Staff
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Washington Redskins, 38-14 at home moving them to second in the NFC East. There has been a tornado of questions swirling around the Cowboys organization after dropping three straight games by a combined 70 points. The Cowboys are in an interesting situation, and we are going to answer all the questions surrounding this team.
The Landry Hat
Can They Make The Wild Card?
Marcus Carr: No, it is too late. There is a lot that needs to go right for this to happen for the Cowboys. Just this week they have to see wins from: Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Even if everything goes right, they have a tough back to back battling the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks in week 15 that could ultimately decide the final Wild Card spot.
Aaron Hendon: They have a shot. Thursday night I went on air and said the boys would lose by three touchdowns, now I look at this 6-6 team with a legit shot to making the playoffs. Heading into the meadowlands with some extra prep time after a Thursday night game, then to the biggest game out of the next four is the Raiders in Dallas. Week 16 and 17 are Vs. Seattle, and in Philadelphia, Zeke will be back giving the offense the boost they need after grinding out the past six weeks without him.
Jameson White: The answer is not definite, but a yes in that they have a chance. The NFC is extremely competitive, and there are a few teams in the race for a wild card berth. However, Dallas does have a formula to get the job done with the assistance of a couple of other teams. America’s team has a cake-walk against the New York Giants after ten days of preparation, then the Raiders who have been less than spectacular following Super Bowl aspirations themselves; these are two win-able games. If Dallas, in weeks 16 and 17, can defeat the Richard Sherman-less Seahawks, and a Philadelphia team who will more than likely be resting most of their starters, they will be playing in the postseason. The Seahawks will then have lost their head-to-head matchup with the Cowboys. The other teams in the hunt for a wild card spot would then be the loser in the week 13 matchup between the Saints and Panthers, Atlanta, and Detroit. Detroit will find a way to choke the end of their regular season. The Falcons will drop out of contention for a berth because of three out of their next four games: one against the NFC North-leading Vikings, and two matchups with the NFC South-leading Saints. I think the Falcons will lose at least two of these, giving the Cowboys the chance to slide right into the sixth seed.
Can The Defense Function Without Sean Lee?
Marcus Carr: This defense is young and inexperienced, but also underrated. Rod Marinelli is the one to blame for this defense being so underwhelming. Jaylon Smith has shown flashes that he can be the player he was at Notre Dame. Anthony Hitchens could hold down the defense along with Demarcus Lawrence. There is a lot of work to be done still, but with them likely to have a middle of the draft pick, they should look to replacing Rod with possibly Jim Schwartz or… wait for it … Wade Phillips, a reunion in Dallas.
Aaron Hendon: Prior to Thursday night against the Redskins I would have said no. Just because the past 3 games they absolutely did not function without Sean Lee. The Cowboys defense forced 4 turnovers and gave up 280 total yards, I look at the schedule and don’t see an overwhelming offense. Not to mention the fact, Sean Lee actually does come back, the next 4 weeks will be interesting to see how the defense fairs against average offenses.
Jameson White: Year in and year out, Dallas’ defense proves that Sean Lee is their heart and soul. They need him on the field in order to make stops and use his uncanny ability to be where the ball is whenever it is thrown or handed off. He is one of the top three most intelligent linebackers in the game. He studies film like a law student before the bar exam. What he does for the defense, is takes them from well below league average, to near the top in run-stuffing and gives them the “not-breaking” part in their “bend but don’t break” defensive philosophy. There are some young studs on the defense, with players like Jourdan Lewis, Demarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Byron Jones, Jaylon Smith, and Anthony Brown; yet, none of them are as important as Sean Lee.
Is Jason Garrett On The Hot Seat?
Marcus Carr: Absolutely, this team lost by 22 to the Chargers and looked completely lost whenever Keenan Allen hung 11-172-1 on them, and Jason “Clap It Up” Garrett cheered them on for the effort. They’re ranked 21st in the league on defense, but the offense hasn’t been all that awesome this year. If the Cowboys lose to the Giants in the upcoming matchup, Jerry has to consider letting Jason go, or consider making him fire some assistants.
Aaron Hendon: I’d say yes, albeit, I’d say he’s not fully on the hot seat. I’ve said it from the beginning that Jason Garrett is the ultimate puppet for Jerry Jones. Jason is a good coach but other than Bill Belichick, head coaches are more figureheads for the team. The OC/DC for the teams and position coaches have a bigger influence on the game plan than the overall “Getting the players ready.” I can definitely see Jason Garrett being on the hot seat, but I don’t know that changing coaches is in the best interest for the Dallas Cowboys.
Jameson White: If Dallas loses two of their last four games, Garrett is fired this offseason. Every year, he finds a way to prove why he is just an average head coach in the NFL. He started his head coaching career on the Cowboys with three straight 8-8 seasons, a 12-4 season followed by a 4-12 year, and the next season at 13-3. This year, he has not given the Cowboys a realistic “next-man-up” mentality that the players can believe and trust in. A prime example; allowing Chaz Green to protect franchise quarterback Dak Prescott’s blindside, with Tyron Smith out with a back injury. Green gave up six sacks and made Dak’s day a misery. If Dallas can sneak into the playoffs, Jason Garrett’s job is safe for at least one more year.
Replacements For Jason Garrett?
Marcus Carr: As much as I am 100% with the firing of Jason Garrett there might not be many young candidates that will take this job due to one problem, Jerry Jones. Jones is the only owner in the NFL that does press conferences after every game. After him threatening to sue the NFL for a Roger Goodell extension, it doesn’t look like he is only worried about the business part of the team, he wants to be involved with everything which might sway many candidates away. The number one candidate for this job should be Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. The problem with pulling coordinators away from the Patriots, most of them love where they are. Matt LaFleur would be the second best fit, because he is a quarterback guru. He has made Jared Goff really good this year, he was the quarterback coach for RG3 when he won Rookie Of The Year, and he was Notre Dame quarterback coach when Everett Golson threw 29 touchdowns.
Aaron Hendon: I don’t think Jerry Jones is going to fire Jason Garrett, even if they finish 6-10, which would be the 2nd worst cowboys record in the last 7 years. If I had to sit in Jerry’s seat, I’d be on the phone with 2-4 guys. I think Stanford’s head coach, David Shaw is the next college head coach to make the jump into the NFL. He’s been running NFL offense and defense in the PAC 12. I’d also get in contact with both the OC and DC of the New England Patriots, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. I don’t know that either of them would leave, but I do think both will be a hot commodity this offseason. Lastyly, I think former Broncos head coach, Gary Kubiak is a name that some NFL teams will be looking at. Is he a good fit in Dallas? I’m not the best guy to ask, but a change in opinion or mind could make a difference.
Jameson White: First off, there are not going to be any coaches that are as much of a pushover as Jason Garrett is. He always says the right things to please Jerry Jones, and I am convinced the man does not have an opinion of his own. One interesting candidate that makes sense for Dallas as a coach is an old friend; Tony Romo. He has been successful in his first season commentating for CBS. He is an extremely likeable guy in the booth and has drawn comparisons to the great John Madden. John Madden, along with being a great commentator, was a great NFL head coach. Tony Romo knows the Dallas Cowboys, as he was with the team for 13 seasons. He is friends with Jerry Jones, which is always a must in Mr. Jones getting his coaches. Tony also has relationships with most of the players currently on the roster. He was their leader, friend, and glimmer of hope in tight games. Romo could also serve as the offensive coordinator because of his high football intelligence, hopefully making sure the Cowboys are not as predictable on offense as they have been this year. Another thought that would be good for this situation – if Dak Prescott went down with an injury, all you would have to do is throw some pads on the head coach and let him go win the game.