Cowboys face second-guessers after run-pass options didn’t work on goal line

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When decisions work, coaches are hailed as geniuses. When they don’t, well, the Monday morning quarterbacks (or any other morning quarterbacks) have a field day.

So it was when the Cowboys reached the 3-yard line early in Sunday’s season opener against the Giants. Despite having three All-Pros on their offensive line and an All-Pro in the backfield, the Cowboys elected to throw it three times.

Or more correctly Dak Prescott elected to throw it twice on the goal line with run-pass options on first and second down, according to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who called a pass play on third down.

“The first two [play calls] were run/pass options, so that’s a run call,” Linehan said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We took two shots to Dez Bryant. We consider those long foul balls. So, yeah, I sit there, and it’s easy afterwards, you say, ‘Look, if we would have hit one of those two, we wouldn’t be talking about this.’ They were close. The second one, we missed that one. The first one he’s covered, but he’s always open one-on-one. He caught it and didn’t come down, so it wouldn’t have been a catch.

“You look back and you go, ‘Well, maybe the next time you take the [run/pass option] off the next one and you give us a chance to run.’ We throw the second one, and he’s open. I’d rather not talk about it.”

Prescott saw Bryant in one-on-one coverage on the first two downs. A fade was incomplete as Bryant couldn’t get both feet inbounds after catching the ball over Janoris Jenkins. Bryant was open on a slant on the second, but Prescott missed him.

The third-down pass, which was not a run-pass option, also was an incompletion to Bryant.

Linehan said the decision-making was good; the execution wasn’t as good. But he refuses to second-guess.

“All the social media-ites probably thought I agreed with them after it’s over, but I didn’t,” Linehan said. “We aren’t changing our approach. We’ve been one of the better red-zone teams because of our weapons so we use them all.”

9 responses to “Cowboys face second-guessers after run-pass options didn’t work on goal line

  1. I was not happy with that sequence either (I’m old school and say strap it up and run), but this is the new nfl–if the look is there, then you have an option with a run-or-pass. Dak missed on the slant and that is where the second-guessing comes into the picture. I fully believe Dak will make that throw if the same scenario were to come up again.

  2. The first should’ve been a draw play. Then, the second should’ve been a run /pass option and third down a pass. One of those would’ve work, guessing the draw play.

  3. I’ve been saying this for years…as a Cowboys fan, Scott Linehan is horrible. He misused Zeke all year last year. Little, to no attempt by Scott to use Zeke in the passing game and get more screens going. Go back to the Steelers game and see what happens when a screen play gets called for Zeke.

    Scott is clueless, and always will be. The coaching staff is what holds the Cowboys back, not the talent.

  4. wagon151515 says:
    I’ve been saying this for years…as a Cowboys fan, Scott Linehan is horrible.
    Linehan’s passing game consists almost entirely of “Throw it to the big guy and let him make the play”. Great when he had Randy Moss and Dez Bryant. Terrible when he tried it with the Rams smaller route runners.

  5. I’m sure a lot of Dak’s decisions there had to do with wanting to get Dez involved and happy early. He also has a tendency to go a little high to Dez on slants so he can use his strength against smaller receivers. Just a little bit off on that play.

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