Breaking: Jason Garrett fired as New York Giants OC

The former Cowboys head coach was relieved of his duties the day after a 30-10 loss to Tampa Bay. | From @ToddBrock24f7

The Jason Garrett era in New York is over after 26 games as the Giants’ offensive coordinator.

Garrett had been the Cowboys’ head coach for nearly a decade. He was let go at the end of the 2019 season after compiling an 85-67 regular season record and a 2-3 mark in the postseason.

The club relieved Garrett head coach the day after a 30-10 loss at the hands of the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. The team made the decision public via social media.

The 3-7 Giants offense currently ranks 26th in scoring and 25th in total yards. Freddie Kitchens will take over as offensive coordinator under head coach Joe Judge.

The Cowboys will play the Giants in New York in December, already having beat them in Week 5.

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Cowboys’ Jones has 2nd-worst win percentage among heavily-tenured GMs

Where does Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones rank among NFL owners in 2020?

The easiest way to become an NFL General Manager is to just buy a team. That’s the path Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took to the top. It worked out well for him early on mostly due to hitting a homerun with his first head coach Jimmy Johnson. Since then, it’s been tough sledding.

Despite taking a backseat in recent years to both his son Stephen and vice president of personnel Will McClay, the blame will always ultimately fall at the owner’s feet until they hoist another Lombardi Trophy. With that being the case, where does he rank among current GMs in the NFL? Mike Sando at The Athletic tried to figure that out. The list was broken down by tenure, with Jones falling in the first group, those with a decade or more on the job. Here’s his writeup:

The Cowboys won 63 percent of their games with three Super Bowl victories during the 1990s. They have won less than 52 percent of their games without reaching a Super Bowl since then, despite some successes in the draft. Jones earned a spot in the Hall of Fame on the strength of that 1990s success combined with his obvious business acumen, not for his accomplishments as a GM over the past couple decades. It’s no coincidence that the GMs with the worst won-lost records in this category own their teams.

It’s true that Jones has the second-worst record among his grouping, but it’s still .538 throughout the entirety of his NFL career. After all, people only keep their job that long if they’re successful or own the team. So where would Jones fall relative to the entirety of the NFL? Exactly in the middle at No. 16.

It becomes more dispiriting when looking at the amount of Pro Bowlers and First-Team All-Pros the Cowboys have selected since 1989, hitting at a rate near the top of the heap. His loyalty to Jason Garrett submarined the entirety of the last decade as well as the prime of former quarterback Tony Romo. Running the team like a family business might ruin the prime of Dak Prescott, too.

It’s time Jones heeds the words of another famous man with several facelifts by starting with the man in the mirror and asking him to change his ways.

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Catch This Fade! Podcast S5E11: Jason Garrett’s revenge tour [Video]

Every Friday, we like to give a little something to the Dallas Cowboys community, a free mini-episode of the Catch This Fade! podcast. The first 20 minutes or so of our weekend show is made available both on video and on audio. In this week’s …

Every Friday, we like to give a little something to the Dallas Cowboys community, a free mini-episode of the Catch This Fade! podcast. The first 20 minutes or so of our weekend show is made available both on video and on audio.

In this week’s action-packed episode the Browns game is finally in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately the tire marks can still be seen. As we look ahead to the Jason Garrett Revenge Tour and what that might look like, I dissect what is and isn’t working for the Giants.

Subscribers at Patreon.com/CatchThisFade get the full show, of course.

  • Show Intro
  • Giants Game Preview: JG, Golden Tate, Daniel Jones
  • Monday Fade review
  • Fade No. 1: Who’s fault it is
  • Trade or move away from players
  • Fade No. 2: This player is escaping effort criticism, but shouldn’t
  • Escape clauses from big contracts (Elliott, Tank, Jaylon, Amari)
  • Giants Preview II: Cowboys OL Shuffle, Giants’ pass rush, point spread
  • Predict Monday’s headline

For the low price of a cup of coffee per month, you get to stream full audio from your preferred podcatcher every Tuesday and Friday morning as myself and co-host Patrik Walker (CBS Sports) give the lowdown on the ins and outs of the Cowboys in the most entertaining fashion you’ll find on a Cowboys podcast. Williams Steele of The Late Night Hype puts the post-production touches on our audio, video and commercials.

For those who are on the Friends of the Show tier, you get full video, including preroll where Pat and I are chopping it up, early access (Monday and Thursday evenings) and bonus content throughout the week, plus discounts on Catch This Fade! events.

It’s an entire moveme and we appreciate you taking the ride with us.

Audio (Patron Tier) | Video (Friend of the Show Tier)

Free Preview Audio

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Numbers Don’t Lie: McCarthy 4th-down gamble was right play

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy had the stomach when the fans didn’t to go for it on fourth down in an uncomfortable situation.

Head coach Mike McCarthy made the right call going for it on fourth-and-3 from the 11-yard line. The numbers back that up.  For a decade, fans of the Dallas Cowboys clamored for someone that would be aggressive, especially on fourth downs. Turns out, they might not have the stomach for it after all. A quick Twitter search of “McCarthy field goal” has people telling on themselves left and right.

What the math says is easy enough to understand. From Michael Gehlken’s piece at the Dallas Morning News:

The Cowboys had a 46% chance of victory entering fourth down at the Rams’ 11-yard line with about 12 minutes remaining in regulation, he said. If they converted the fourth down, their win probability would’ve increased to 56%. If they kicked a field goal, it actually would have decreased to 45%.

Jason Garrett would have kicked the field goal. In fact, he might have won the game on Sunday night, and in the process confirmed all of his terrible previous biases that settling for field goals deep in the opponent’s territory is a good thing.

Going for it on fourth down carries an inherent risk that Garrett didn’t have the stomach for. Not once during his entire career in Dallas did Garrett go for it in that similar situation. In fact, most coaches don’t. They will try it once the game state gets to a point so desperate that the outcome of the play no longer matters. In the last decade, coaches in similar situations only went for it 54 times, yet it converted at a rate of 68.5%.

When Mike McCarthy made the rounds late in the 2019 season he was adamant that he would be incorporating analytics into his decision making process. He showed in Week 1 he was willing to do exactly that. Here’s hoping that one bump in the road doesn’t shake his confidence.

And not for nothing, because decisions should be judged on intent, but not execution, but the play likely would have worked if Blake Jarwin was in the game instead of the rarely used Dalton Schultz. Schultz collapsed the route window of receiver CeeDee Lamb, keeping him from having the space to carry his route past the yard marker.

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NFC East Season Preview: Advanced stats tells of coming battle for supremacy

Cowboys look set to rebound from a disappointing 2019 season with key offensive additions

The NFC East was the only division without a 10-win team in 2019, and one of just two divisions (along with the AFC South) without a 12-win team. Two of the group picked in the top-4 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Overall, it was a year without any great teams, a year without any playoff success, and overall simply a year to forget.

What should be expected from the division in 2020?

Looking at the underlying numbers, one might find some very different interpretations of how these teams performed, despite their win-loss records. A peek at the 2019 numbers reveals some clues as to what is coming.

Quick note; we will be using a stat called Expected Points Added (EPA) fairly heavily from here on out. Expected Points, the foundation of many analytical arguments, uses data from previous NFL seasons to determine how many points a team is likely to come away with on a given play based on down, distance, time remaining, and field position. The difference in expected points at the start of a play and expected points at the end is referred to as expected points added, or EPA.

A play with a positive EPA means it put the offense in a better position to score, while negative EPA implies the offense is in a worse position.

The Washington Football Team and the New York Giants are down in the bottom left with the rest of the teams that picked in the top-10 in the draft. There’s the Eagles right in the middle, a somewhat average team by EPA on both offense and defense. And there’s the Cowboys over on the right, sitting beside the Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs.

Wait, what? The 8-8 Cowboys that didn’t even win the division?

That’s right.

Over the course of the entire season, the Cowboys consistently were able move themselves into a better position to score. The knock you’ll often hear is they played really well when they either already had a big lead or when they were already losing big. And we can check that by filtering this same chart down to only plays where they had a win probability between 20% and 80%.

This does seem to check out, as the Cowboys are now hiding behind the Titans, Texans, and Seahawks, a few tiers below the top teams like the Chiefs. The Eagles also look worse under this constraint, particularly on defense. Meanwhile, Washington and New York are looking about the same.

We can also visualize this by looking at, say, Dak Prescott’s performance (as measured by EPA/play) at each given win probability. This really illustrates that the Cowboys were fantastic when games weren’t close, but below average when the score was tight.

But last season is past, and all four of these teams are looking to improve on their 2019 record in this upcoming season. Which teams made offseason moves that will pay off in 2020?

Washington Football Team

The most notable addition for Washington has to be Chase Young, the prospect often considered to be the most talented player in the 2020 draft class. The numbers crowd and the film crowd may butt heads plenty, but in this case everyone could agree: Chase Young is special.

Young finished with the best ever PFF overall grade for a college edge defender. His pass-rush win rate (how often he beats his blocker) was far and away the best among Power 5 edge rushers in 2019.

The real question going into next season is how much he can help a Washington defense that gave up the sixth-most points in the NFL last year. There’s been a, um, spirited debate among football fans and analysts regarding the relative importance of pass rush compared to pass coverage.

It is of course better to be good at both if at all possible, but there is compelling evidence that points to pass coverage being the primary driver behind a strong pass defense.

Will Chase Young wreck opposing quarterbacks? Probably. Will that turn Washington into an above-average defense? That’s debatable.

The other main question with Washington is whether Dwayne Haskins can make a jump in his sophomore season. He had a very forgettable start to his career but showed noticeable improvement with each successive start after Week 11.

Here we can see his EPA/play climb significantly, along with his Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE), which is here given in decimal form. Haskins will need to continue this improvement if Washington wants to have any hope of a winning season in 2020.

New York Giants

The other team in the East with a top-5 pick added a trench player on the offensive side of the ball in tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas was the third-highest graded tackle in the FBS per Pro Football Focus, and had the highest overall grade for an SEC tackle of any player since La’el Collins in 2014. They’re hoping he’ll shore up the protection for Daniel Jones, another sophomore quarterback hoping to make a leap in 2020.

Jones had the second-lowest clean pocket percentage among the 30 quarterbacks with 300+ dropbacks in 2019, better than only Sam “I’m seeing ghosts” Darnold. His progression will be key to the Giants, thought it is not as clear as what we saw from Haskins above.

Jones had his good days and he had his bad days.

Where he really shone was in his ability to use his legs, something the Giants never really had with Eli at the helm. Jones gained 228 yards on 27 scrambles last year. His 19.1 EPA on scrambles was the sixth-highest mark in the NFL. A game plan that accentuates his mobility, a la the Bills with Josh Allen, could help propel them to a much-improved offense. They’ve also now got an offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett who is familiar with quarterbacks who can scramble.

On that same note, Garrett just made the move from a team that loved to #FeedZeke to a team with Saquon Barkley. It’s probably safe to assume we’ll see plenty of running being established in New York in 2020.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles drafted a quarterback in the second round of the NFL Draft less than a year after handing Carson Wentz a $128M extension. Jalen Hurts might not make an appearance in 2020, but that was the biggest splash of their offseason.

In terms of more immediate impact on the team, Philadelphia graciously drafted a wide receiver for Wentz to throw to this year. The three players with the most catches for the Eagles in 2019 were a tight end, a tight end, and a running back. Wentz finished 17th in EPA/play last year with a CPOE just below 0, but the context of losing DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor all for significant periods of time makes it hard to be too rough on him. The Eagles are hoping the addition of Jalen Reagor will add some much-needed depth to their wide receiver room and give Wentz some more legitimate targets beyond Zach Ertz.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles seemed to disagree with the idea that pass coverage is more important than pass rush. Perennial Expected Sack (xSack) leaders Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham showed up again in terms of their pressure rates, but neither was able to convert that to big sack numbers. As a whole, the Eagles were middle of the pack in terms of actual sacks, but that undersells their ability to pressure the quarterback.

Only seven teams were able to pressure the quarterback more than Philly. There was also a huge dropoff after the Eagles here, indicating that they were if not in the top tier of pass rushing teams, they were no worse than the second tier. As pressure rates are far more consistent than sack rates, expect an uptick in the number of sacks Philadelphia nets in 2020.

Dallas Cowboys

Finally we come to the Cowboys.

Dallas us coming into the season with the a new head coach for the first time in a decade. The big question now is what exactly Mike McCarthy’s first non-Aaron Rodgers offense will look like. There was plenty to be excited about last year with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. The offense opened up early in the season with an abundance of early-down passing and motion at the snap, but it tapered off pretty quickly to around league average.

Prescott started the season on fire. At the halfway point, he ranked third in both EPA/dropback and CPOE, the only QB to rank in the top-3 in both categories. He even sparked some MVP talk. However, much like the team as a whole, his play fell off a bit towards the end of the season. He didn’t finish among the league’s elite, but he was definitely above average by all accounts.

The big offseason addition for Dallas was the gift of CeeDee Lamb.

Lamb adds another weapon to this already dangerous passing attack, and might encourage the new coach and young offensive coordinator to sling it around even more this season. Yahoo Sports writer Matt Harmon went so far as to compare Lamb to superstar wideout DeAndre Hopkins.The prospect of Lamb and Amari Cooper lining up on either side of the field is a mouth-watering one for any Cowboys fan. The only wrinkle is the lack of a true slot receiver among Dallas’ top-3 wideouts. Cooper, Lamb, and Michael Gallup all profile as outside receivers, and their main slot man Randall Cobb left in free agency last year. Lamb has expressed interest in playing in the slot, and if that can work out, this offense gets even more intriguing.

There is reason to believe every team in the division got better in the offseason. Philadelphia and Dallas were both good teams with bad luck last year, and it’s likely we’ll see them battling for the NFC East crown once again this year, only this time with double-digit wins.

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Romo skipped on ESPN’s NFCE All-Decade team littered with Cowboys

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning takes the top spot from Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys as the NFC East’s all-decade quarterback.

The 2010 portion of the Dallas Cowboys lauded history can be summed up in one word: underwhelming. A roster usually filled with talent constantly underperformed, a description that has become the hallmark of the bygone Jason Garrett era. The club was only able to reach the divisional round three times in 10 years, once by virtue of a wild-card bye, but was never able to reach a championship game.

The NFC East beat writers at ESPN voted on an all-decade divisional team. and it is littered with Cowboys. Of the 25 available spots, 10 of them hail from Dallas. The one player missing is former quarterback Tony Romo, who misses out on the top spot to Eli Manning of the New York Giants.

The difference is in the ring.

Manning captured a Lombardi trophy in 2011 while Romo and the Cowboys made the playoffs in just one season before injuries took over and Dak Prescott ascended. But outside of the improbable 2011 playoff run for the Giants and Manning, there’s no question who played the position at a higher level.

In terms of efficiency, Romo outshines Manning in every respect, boasting superior numbers across the board, image and numbers courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

But while Romo was undoubtedly better when he was available, the problem is he just wasn’t for the last half of the decade. Manning’s pure volume numbers lay waste to Romo, one of the most snake-bitten players of his time. With the Super Bowl acting as a cherry on top, it’s tough to argue against the Manning taking that spot.

The Dallas Cowboys who did make the list:

  • Running back Ezekiel Elliott
  • Wide receiver Dez Bryant
  • Offensive tackle Tyron Smith
  • Center Travis Frederick
  • Guard Zack Martin
  • Tight end Jason Witten
  • Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence
  • Linebacker Sean Lee
  • Linebacker DeMarcus Ware
  • Kicker Dan Bailey

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Prescott, Romo steered Cowboys through bad decade of defense

A look back at the decade that was in terms of the Dallas Cowboys DVOA rankings on both sides of the football.

A new decade of the NFL is on the horizon. With that in mind, it’s an easy time to take a look back on another frustrating stretch of Dallas Cowboys football. ESPN, in conjunction with Football Outsiders, has put a bow on the 2010’s by compiling the DVOA (a opponent-adjusted metric used to compare teams) by year. The snapshot it provides perfectly sums up the Jason Garrett era in Dallas.

Each edition of the Cowboys over the past decade had one thing in common: an offense held together by an under-appreciated quarterback. First it was Tony Romo, whose shortcomings in the playoffs submarined the casual fans view of his play. That same exact brush is currently being used to paint Dak Prescott.

Despite the article being behind a paywall, this information is readily available at FootballOutsiders.com.

There are three subpar offensive years on the lists. In 2010, the team fell apart after Romo broke his clavicle for the first time in Week 7 against the New York Giants. Before that, Dallas was tracking closer to a top 10 offense. In the disastrous 2015 campaign, Romo again played just four games after suffering the same type of injury in Week 2 against another divisional foe in the Philadelphia Eagles.

In what must be a devastating blow to the people who dedicate their online lives to the devaluing of Prescott, the two best years of offense came with No. 4 at the helm. His 2016 rookie season remains a pleasant surprise, but the true leap came last year, despite the meme-inducing 8-8 record. Even Prescott’s worst year in terms of quarterback play resulted in a 10-win season, a trip to the playoffs and a wild card win against the Seattle Seahawks.

Since former head coach Wade Phillips’ departure, the defense was never able to find its footing. The team had just one above average performance on that side of the ball, and played dismally just as often as not despite cycling through five defensive coordinators.

The next 10 years of football in Dallas is yet to be written. But with a quarterback of Prescott’s caliber in tow, history has shown at least the offense will pull its weight and give the team a puncher’s chance of the playoffs ever season.

 

McCarthy addresses Cowboys roster holes left behind by Garrett

Mike McCarthy initial moves in free agency all seem to address positions long neglected under Jason Garrett’s watch.

The 2020 Cowboys continue to take shape under Mike McCarthy. If each move the team makes at this early offseason stage reflects the new staff’s immediate thoughts of the roster they inherited from Jason Garrett, the external free agents so far signed by Dallas seem to address areas many perceived as roster holes continually carried by recent Cowboys teams.

In some regards, it’s been a typical offseason in Dallas. They’ve once again stayed out of headline-stealing free agent moves, but also have been involved with several high-profile contracts, mostly with their own players. The Cowboys have retained 12 members of last season’s roster (notably Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper), yet also lost CB Byron Jones and DE Robert Quinn to big money deals elsewhere. Coupled with the sudden retirement of Travis Frederick, McCarthy is juggling many factors out of his control in constructing the team’s upcoming roster. Much more within his control however, is the team’s own aggressiveness in pursuing roster additions with the offseason now in full swing.

The Cowboys were somewhat resistant to bringing in outside players under Garrett, often forgoing spending until the second and third-wave of free agency. With McCarthy now installed, he brings his own preferences and past relationships, and has chosen to supplement the roster at specific positions that’ve long-been identified as lacking. It’s not a coincidence and perhaps expected to experience this with any head coaching change, but Dallas’s recent additions should be promising to anyone who has wished for a fresh eye and perspective when constructing Cowboys teams.

Interior Defensive Line

Immediately noticeable is the additions Dallas has made to the interior of its defensive line, adding a significant amount of beef to both defensive tackle positions. Last offseason signaled a departure in strategy for the Cowboys, when they spent a second round pick on DT Trysten Hill. The draft selection represented a much richer investment than the team made previously made in the position, but one that unfortunately didn’t provide much value during the regular season. The additions of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe will hopefully do more than offset the loss of Maliek Collins, and provide a stabilizing force in the center of the defense.

A potential cap casualty target last year, McCoy eventually found his way to Dallas, and stands to be a valuable chess piece for Mike Nolan’s defense. McCoy may no longer be a perennial Pro Bowl candidate or one of the game’s most unsung pass rushers, he’s still plenty capable of providing high quality snaps from the 3-tech position. He can also lineup as a defensive end, and help absorb some of the loss of Quinn opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. He’s a plug-and-play player that makes a ton of sense for the Cowboys DL unit looking for consistency and playmaking as they move into 2020.

The same can practically be said for Poe, the 6-4, 346 pound nose tackle who was McCoy’s teammate last year in Carolina. For too long, Dallas was content with spending the bare minimum at the 1-tech position, utilizing stopgaps and out-of-position players Collins and Hill to take reps at nose tackle. Poe may be a mercenary himself, but he’s a space eater with a successful track record that the team likely would’ve avoided under Garrett. There’s also chance under McCarthy that Dallas will actually draft a NT prospect before Day 3 of the 2020 draft, adding even more mass to a stable that includes McCoy, Poe, Antwaun Woods, and Hill.

Safety

Another position seemingly neglected under Garrett was safety, a hot-button topic amongst circles less than thrilled with the coverage skills of players like Jeff Heath and Barry Church. Dallas almost had an aversion to signing safeties in free agency and upgrading the position, even despite their very public flirtations with Earl Thomas that stretched over two seasons.

HaHa Clinton-Dix has his own flaws, but bringing him on represents another shift in priorities, and he’s coming off a very solid season as a member of Chicago’s strong secondary. A free-roaming ballhawk, Clinton-Dix owns 16 career interceptions over his first six seasons, a welcome sign for a team that continually ranks near the bottom each year in terms of total interceptions. The signing reunites Clinton-Dix with McCarthy, who coached him in Green Bay from 2014 – 2018, and also with Amari Cooper, who were both members on Alabama’s 2012 National Championship winning team.

Kicker

Despite bringing back K Kai Forbath, who was perfect on field goal attempts down the stretch in 2019, the Cowboys set up an intriguing competition this upcoming training camp between him and Greg Zurelein, the longtime Rams kicker who was recently signed. Many were essentially begging the Cowboys to bring on competition for Brett Maher during his time in Dallas, a frustrating run that maybe best highlights how Garrett’s insistence on sticking with certain players eventually costs the team.

While the optics of rostering two kickers seems puzzling, the Cowboys will surely only keep one come the start of the regular season. The minimal guaranteed money involved with both deals makes it easy to walk away from either player, and signals that Dallas is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to rectifying last season’s special teams debacles.

Compared to last season’s external free agency class (Randall Cobb, Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and George Iloka), the players already brought in by the Cowboys represent significantly greater investments, and will likely be counted on for bigger roles for 2020. Whether or not the moves ultimately pan out remains to be seen, but it’s still encouraging to see the new staff open to improving areas many have clamored for as needing help.

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Moore ranked 2nd-best OC in 2019, Cowboys O predicted to maintain excellence in 2020

A look at the annual awards from the crew at Football Outsiders who are bullish on the Dallas Cowboys offense remaining a top unit in 2020.

After a disappointing 2019 campaign that left a bitter taste in the mouths of everyone associated with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s important to remember that not everything was a total loss. The true bright spot came from the offensive side of the ball with first-year coordinator Kellen Moore flashing his skill as a play-caller.

Heading into 2020, the entirety of the staff has been shaken up in some way, save for Moore, who was retained by head coach Mike McCarthy. The decision to continue along that path is one of the best decisions the Cowboys brain trust could have made. In the 2019 Football Outsiders Awards, Moore was voted as the second best offensive coordinator in the league, behind only Greg Roman of the Baltimore Ravens.

The offense wasn’t perfect last season. There were times where the group stalled out at the worst times, but one would be hard pressed to find a more promising start to a play-caller’s career. With most of the core pieces expected to return in 2020, despite their current contract status, the staff at Football Outsiders is bullish on the Dallas offense maintaining their excellence. Regression to the mean is a very real thing, but the Cowboys’ offense ranked No. 4 in units predicted to avoid the year-after swoon. The units above them are Baltimore offense and both the offensive and defensive units for the San Francisco 49ers.

Other awards of note:

  • Former head coach Jason Garrett was left off the most ineffective coach list. Of the six coaches listed, only three of them lost their job.
  • Running back Ezekiel Elliott came in at No. 7 for the non-QB version of 2019 Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Guard Zack Martin tied for the ninth best offensive lineman in the league, but No. 4 among guards.
  • The Dallas offensive line was the eighth best unit in the league last year, though they garnered 0.0% of the votes.
  • Kicker Brett Maher was conspicuously missing from the “Keep Choppin’ Wood Award” that’s awarded to the player who hurt his team the most.
  • Elliott’s “Dak Dance” celebration was the staff’s fourth best touchdown celebration of the year.

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Dez Bryant misses scoring TDs, will he get chance to flash again?

Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, and the greatest receiving red zone threat, continues to lobby for a return to the team.

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has been putting in work on and off the practice field. On the field he’s working on honing his craft as he attempts to a return to the field for the first time since 2017. Off the field he’s working on what he wants most: a reunion with the Cowboys.

It can’t be ruled out. With former head coach Jason Garrett ousted and owner Jerry Jones being the biggest of Bryant’s fans, the all-time leader in touchdown receptions for the franchise could reprise his starring role into a supporting one.

Mike Doocy of the Dallas Fox News affiliate had an impromptu interview with Bryant, which can be seen in its entirely below.

 

“I miss scoring touchdowns,” is what Bryant told Doocy. It’s what he did best, hauling in a franchise-record 73 during his time in Dallas. It also aligns with what the Cowboys need most. The red zone is where he always did the most damage, and it’s an area that has been problematic for Dallas in recent years.

The last time Bryant donned a star on his helmet was in 2017. In what’s not likely a coincidence, the Cowboys finished No. 7 in red zone touchdown percentage at 59.62. In 2018 the team finished at No. 26 with a woeful 51.79%. 2019 was better, but it wasn’t good, with Dallas exactly in the middle of the pack, coming in at No. 16 with a touchdown percentage of 57.41.

For anyone who doubts Bryant’s acumen inside the 20-yard-line, here’s a list of the most efficient pass catchers in terms of touchdowns in the past decade.

Among players with over 100 targets inside the red zone, he ranks No. 3. The thing to take note of is he’s the only wide receiver who ranks in the top 11 players listed here. The rest are tight ends. There’s no receiver more lethal than Bryant in the red zone.

He was asked if he was hopeful for a return to the team that drafted him. He responded with, “That’s right. Yeah, of course, of course. That’s home. That’s home.” He later went on to say “I feel like they got the right pieces to go to the Super Bowl. And I feel like I can help be a part of that.” In a specialized role, there’s no doubt he’s capable of contributing the thing that has always mattered most: scoring touchdowns.

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