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.”