Failure to call time out falls more on Garrett than Romo


On Monday, we killed Jason Garrett for becoming the first coach in NFL history (and possibly in all of football history) to ice his own kicker.  On Tuesday, we killed Tony Romo for not calling a time out as soon as he completed a pass to receiver Dez Bryant with 26 seconds to play.

It’s Wednesday, and I need to reel in some of the criticism of Romo, and throw it onto Garrett.

Multiple people whose opinion I respect have explained that, in this specific situation, it’s not for the quarterback to call time out, but for the coach.  (I acknowledged last night that Garrett at all times had the ability to call time out from the sideline, but the bulk of my criticism was reserved for Romo.)  As soon as the play ends, the coach-to-quarterback communication line opens, and Garrett could have — and should have — told Romo to take a time out.

Instead, Garrett either told Romo to line up his teammates for a spike play, or Garrett told Romo nothing at all.

Of course, when pressed on the situation after the game, Romo didn’t say he wasn’t told to call a time out.  Romo simply said he didn’t know whether the Cowboys had gotten a first down on the prior play.

It could be that Romo didn’t want to blame his coach publicly for the error.

Basically, then, Garrett made two significant mistakes.  Before icing his own kicker, Garrett failed to realize that one of the two remaining time outs should have been taken as soon as the Cowboys got a first down at the Arizona 32 with 26 seconds left on the clock.

While the decision to ice his own kicker may never be adequately explained, why did Garrett fail to take a time out?  Former Colts and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst on Football Night In America, has a theory.

“That’s one of the problems with head coaches calling the plays,” Dungy told PFT by email on Wednesday. “They lose track of game management.”

It’s a great point.  Knowing which play to call and knowing when to take a time out are two very different tasks.  The play-caller isn’t thinking about bigger-picture questions like when and whether to use the remaining time outs.  “Garrett probably wasn’t thinking about that ahead of time,” Dungy said.  “He was thinking about what play to call on third down and, rightfully so, what he might have to call on fourth down.”

Thus, for teams where the head coach is also calling the plays, someone needs to be thinking about when and whether to use time outs.  And if that fairly important task falls through the cracks with the game on the line, maybe it’s a sign that the head coach shouldn’t be calling the plays.

38 responses to “Failure to call time out falls more on Garrett than Romo

  1. Hey Romo,

    Even if you didn’t get the first down, you should have called time out anyway. Although spiking it on 4th down would have been hilarious.

  2. No no i think you were right the first time, Romo definitely blew this game it was all his fault! His skills as a coach, kicker, and safety really need to improve

  3. Garrett’s play-calling and coaching abilities have been sub par as both an OC and Head Coach. He is a QB Coach – maybe. This year alone his play-calling and decision making cost the Cowboys games vs. the Jets, Kittens, Pats, and Pigeons this last week. He had 10 days to prepare for a 4-7 team out of the NFC West to basically assure a division championship and a playoff bid. He blew it badly, the worst that has been seen on both the NCAA and NFL levels, then he still denies that he was wrong, still does, and throws the players, mostly Romo, under the bus. This guy is unbelievable – plays politics to get the job in the first place, then destroys the season of a team that is not great, but pretty good. Jones should fire him and replace him with Jimmy Johnson (won’t happen) or June Jones (evidently not going to ASU now). I would take Norv Turner over Garrett anyday.

  4. Romo should have just run the situation himself. I think JG had a talk with him because of the early season mistakes. He is handling Romo instead of letting him run the offense.

    I think Romo knows what really happened but is not going to throw his coach under the bus. He is far classier than that.

  5. Duuh, of course that decision falls on Garrett, he should have known the timeout situation and when Romo looks over at him after the play, Bam, he makes the TO signal. Shouldn’t even have to think about it.

    Romo probably knew they should call TO and I bet lots of QBs would have automatically; I wonder if he thought he didn’t have that kind of power.

  6. I just assumed garrett called the time out to give his kicker a practice kick. but it doesn’t seem like he told anybody else about it and it backfired.

  7. Everybody on this team looks over their shoulders at the owner’s box. Well, except for the players. None of them seem worried.

  8. “Instead, Garrett either told Romo to line up his teammates for a spike play, or Garrett told Romo nothing at all.”
    IF Garrett told Romo nothing, Romo should have enough brains to use one of the *two* timeouts and preserve time instead of hustling to spike the ball.

  9. “Thus, for teams where the head coach is also calling the plays, someone needs to be thinking about when and whether to use time outs.”

    Then again, Romo has to stand still whenever he chews gum.

  10. The bigger issue- Garrett had more confidence in his kicker making a 49 yard field goal than in his offense gaining ONE MORE yard.

    When the Packers advanced to roughly the same point on the field with only 1 timeout, what did they do? Ran two more plays, gained yards and made the field goal a chip shot.

    Whether Garrett was worried that Romo would throw a pick, fumble or take a sack or someone would jump offsides it is very telling that he he placed more faith in his kicker than his offense.

  11. Clock management comes with experience. Not being in the position of head coach at any level prior to this season, has shown negatives in Garrett’s ability. It takes time and experience to master the art. Games are won and lost by coaches and QB’s using the clock correctly or incorrectly.

  12. On Monday, we killed Jason Garrett for becoming the first coach in NFL history (and possibly in all of football history) to ice his own kicker.


    Not true. Bill Belichick did it a couple years back. I’m pretty sure it was towards the end of a season but I can’t remember what game it was. He ran all the way down the field and then on the field because nobody saw him call time out.

  13. Romo didn’t get called for two blocks in the back on punt returns. Romo didn’t get called for pass interference on an ARZ scoring drive. Romo wasn’t blocking when the run game was struggling. Romo wasn’t blocking for himself while he was getting sacked. Romo didn’t miss two field goals.

    Yep, it’s all Romo’s fault!

  14. I hope so, this coach obviously doesn’t have a damn clue and should be shipped out if he makes another bone headed move like that again.

  15. shoulda called time out RIGHT AWAY!! maybe run 2 quick run plays to try to get more yardage. it was common sense. probably the worst clock management ive ever seen and ive seen ever lions game since 1997!!!!!! lol

  16. How rare is a mea culpa like this, especially in today’s never-wrong political and internet culture?

    Whether or not I agree with your original position or revised position, and whether or not you needed to revise it, I think it’s pretty darned cool that you went out of your way to do this.

    Today’s culture almost demands complete inability for self-reflection (Suh & Schwartz, anyone?), so thank you for bucking that trend.

  17. Yes, Mike, we know you hate Tony Romo, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, and anything related to the Dallas Cowboys.

    Rather than having to come up with ever more convoluted justifications for writing negative things about the Cowboys, why don’t you make your first post every Monday morning, “I Still Hate the Dallas Cowboys”? It really would save us all a lot of time.

  18. Mike,
    Thanks for checking your Ego at the door and getting the story right. That is what I like about your place.

  19. Dungy shouldn’t criticize other coaches without watching their post-game press conference.

    Garrett did not “mismanage” anything- he made a concious decision not to run another play because he didn’t trust the Oline to not commit a penalty or allow a sack. You can certainly criticize that decision (which I, for one, disaggree with, despite the 5 sacks in the game and a number of penalties on the Oline, including during that drive), but it is irresponsible for Dungy to suggest that he “lost track of time”.

  20. They were hurrying to get the kick off and the ST Coach was concerned it would be botched so he told Garrett he needed a time-out (watch the tape), so one was called.

    Perfectly rational even if the outcome wasn’t what they wanted.

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