Aikman calls Cowboys’ play calling “mind-boggling” and “bizarre”

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Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman couldn’t believe what he was seeing as Dallas turned away from its running game in the second half of Sunday’s loss to Green Bay.

Aikman said on KTCK-AM that the Cowboys’ running game was working well in the first half as Dallas built up a 23-3 lead, so he figured the Cowboys would keep running the ball in the second half to protect that lead. Instead, the Cowboys passed more than they ran in the second half and blew their lead.

“They were about to run Green Bay right out of the stadium,” Aikman said, via the Dallas Morning News. “The philosophy has always been you throw the ball early in games to build the lead, you run the ball late to win games. And I believe in that. That’s the way we did it in the ’90s. I think, by and large, that’s the way Jason Garrett would prefer to do it. But if there was ever a time that DeMarco Murray should have had 25 carries in a game, that was it. You’ve got a 23-point lead. And as it turns out, Eddie Lacy ran the ball almost twice as much as DeMarco Murray in the second half of that ballgame, which is pretty mind-boggling. It was as bizarre a loss as I’ve ever witnessed.”

Asked if he thinks the faith of owner and General Manager Jerry Jones is shaken, Aikman said he thinks the whole team is shaken.

“I would think not only with Jerry Jones, but the entire locker room,” Aikman said. “You can’t lose games the way this team has lost games and then lose them here in December and feel great about your football team. I can’t imagine defensively they go out and take the field at any time and feel real good about their ability to slow anybody down. And then that permeates throughout the team and it certainly affects what your game plan might be on the offensive side.”

The good news for the Cowboys is they’re still in a position where if they win their last two games, they win the NFC East. You can bet that if they build up any 20-point halftime leads on the next two Sundays, the Cowboys won’t forget their running game.

79 responses to “Aikman calls Cowboys’ play calling “mind-boggling” and “bizarre”

  1. Based on the Deadskins’ last few games, it’s more of matter of running up a 20-point lead in thr first quarter.

    Of course, that means having more time left to blow it.

  2. Must have been hard for poor Troy, calling the game while openly rooting for the Cowboys and watching them self destruct before his eyes.

    He’s a good announcer, but should not be permitted to call games involving the NFC East. He’s incapable of masking his personal interests so he’s biased.

  3. If he’s good enough to be the dad for the son of Hayden Fox, then he’s good enough to be the HC of the Dallas Cowboys. Or Hayden Fox could be the HC, or Craig T. Nelson might be pretty good. He’s a heck of an actor, all he’d have to do is just reprise his previous role and the whole team could get an instant attitude adjustment.

  4. You can bet that if they build up any 20-point halftime leads on the next two Sundays, the Cowboys won’t forget their running game.
    This suggests Dallas learns from their mistakes and that’s something I wouldnt be so sure about.

    After all- they havent learned that Romo will blow the big game for them, they havent learned all year that Murray is their best offensive weapon, they havent learned hiring has-been coaches doesnt work, they havent learned Garrett’s terrible, they havent learned the owner can’t be a GM….need I go on?

  5. Troy the cowboys are 7-7 and the eagles are 8-6 so if the cowboys win out they would be 9-7 and if the eagles won out they would be 10-6, so maybe you should redact your statement ???

  6. I honestly dont know what I want more, Dallas to lose to the Skins, or Dallas to lose to Philly next week. I kind of hope for Philly Next week, that way two things happen: 1) skins fans can feel even more bitter about the pick that goes to St Louis, and 2) Dallas will have completed three straight seasons going down to week 17, and losing all three to a division rival who then goes on to win the division.

    I am so disgusted with this team. I’ll never not be a fan, but right now, they are a clown show. And you know what we do with clowns? We either attack them, or we laugh at them.

  7. I’ve been a Cowboys fan for 35 years,is it too late for me to switch teams?I cant take it no more!

  8. It was exactly that – bizarre & mind-boggling. The Cowboys passed more than the Packers did in the second half when the Cowboys were up…yes UP 26-3. Absolutely bonkers. I heard it was 22 passes to what…9 runs?

  9. It is easy to look at statistics and come away with bad conclusions. People seem to not realize that the Cowboys only had 4 drives in the second half. The results were:
    FG, TD, INT, INT. No punts.

    The first drive was a mix of run and pass. On the last run call of the drive (on a second and 5 +/-) they were called for holding which put them in 2nd and 15 +/-. So they called a pass play that got a yard or so. Giving them a 3rd and long so they called another pass that only gave them a few yards. Then they kicked a FG. If they would have run the ball, the most likely result would have still been the same, a FG. The holding penalty is what killed the drive, not the play calling.

    On the second drive they scored a TD, mostly by passing the ball. Obviously though, playcalling was fine since they scored a TD.

    On the 3rd drive is when Romo threw his game killing interception by making a poor pass and probably poor decision. The play was a run-pass option. Nobody forced Romo to throw the ball. A coach has to trust his QB to make good decisions at all times of the game, if he can’t, then he needs to get a new QB.

    On the 4th drive they needed to pass since time was limited and another interception resulted.

    That is it, that is all the drives they had in the second half because of how poorly their defense played. When you really look into it, the complaint about running the ball more is foolish and only based on superficial reasoning because someone sees a statistics comparing the number of runs in the first half to the second half. The fact is they ran the ball more in the first half because they had the ball more often since the defense was getting stops and turnovers.

  10. I would have faith in a team to learn from last week but it seems that Garrett hasn’t learned from any situation. The only time I had actually seen any sort of lesson learned is when Dallas lost to the lions because instead of taking a knee running the clock down and kicking the field goal they ran got a hold and the clock stopped. Then in a similar situation against the giants three weeks later they took the knee let the clock run to :03 and kicked the game winner. That is the only time I have seen Garrett learn and pretty much the last time

  11. Totally agree Troy, this team is full of coaches who don’t know how to coach,or a have a game plan!!! or a GM who knows what hes doing!! He is one heck of a business man, but a garbage GM!!!!! Jerry its time to hire a GM for real this time look at the last 15 years, you will never get this team back to a super bowl. The game has passed you up, time to hang it up!!

  12. The cowgirls only ran the ball 11 times in the first half. Anyone that thinks Romo is going to hand the ball off all game doesn’t understand the guys need for stats. He’s gonna chuck it 400 yds game win or lose.

  13. Why is Dallas Cowladies always in the press? The most overrated and hated team in the NFL, we do not want to hear about them no more this season. I hope the Eagles put them out of playoffs because even if they win the division, that would be their SB. Lets talk about a team that really shows some promise like CHawks, 49ers, Saints, Packers (oh did I say Packers, is that the team that sent Dizzy Bryant to the locker room before the time expired)? Dallas had their time back in the day as Aikey stated in the 90’s.

  14. The calls for Garrett’s head over this is mindboggling. The cowboys owner very publicly took the playcalling away from Garrett in the offseason and gave it to Callahan and Romo.

    It’s not often a head coach can legitimately say that he had no input in a decision.

  15. 18 carries for 134 yards and a touch for Murray.

    24 of those yards were in the 4th on only 3 carries.

    3 Carries up 12 with a defense that couldn’t stop a child.

    Are you kidding?

    If Garrett and Callahan aren’t run out of town after the season it’s because of Jerruh’s obvious inability to admit mistakes.

  16. There was one drive I missed, so the Cowboys had 5 drives in the second half, compared to 7 in the first half. The drive I missed was the only one where you might blame play calling since it was 3 straight passes and out. Maybe that does change the game, who knows or maybe the Packers had the momentum at that point and it wouldn’t have mattered. I didn’t see that point of the game so I have no idea why the first 2 passes were incomplete. Did the players just not execute or were the Packers dialed into what the Cowboys were doing. Lack of success isn’t always due to bad play calling. I tend to blame play calling when it becomes predictable or when coaches do things that the team isn’t good at like running the ball on 3rd short after being poor at it all season.

  17. I’ll take that bet between Jerry,his girlfriend romo and sidekick Garrett this team will never win they don’t learn from their mistakes and they’re not that good. How many top receivers does romo need to make this team relevant?

  18. I call the defence crappy and ineffective.

    The Dallas offense scored 36 points at home. The Dallas defense couldn’t make it hold up. The team surrendering the most points per game, Washington, gives up only 31.

    Did I mention the Dallas defense is ranked dead last in yards per game.

    Anytime you put up more points than the average of the worst team defensively and don’t win, it’s all your defense.

    Enough said.

  19. If Dallas can let DeMarco carry the load the next two games then there is a small chance. It’s not like the Redskins and Philly are amazing teams. They ain’t winning a championship with that high school defense, but at least they may be able to say they went to the playoffs. In any case, the Superbowl is all that matters so as a Dallas fan I don’t really care at this point.

  20. People want to thumbs down me, well let me explain my point another way.

    Most coaches don’t lose games because they have one drive where their play calling causes a punt. I’m sure all coaches have a drive or two that results in a punt directly because of their play calling. Most coaches have defenses that can at least hold the other team from scoring a TD at least once or twice in a half, giving them room for error. Most coaches can call a run-pass option while having a lead and not have to worry if their QB is going to give the other team the ball unnecessarily. I’m not even standing up for Garrett, but this game wasn’t lost on poor play calling. It was lost because the Cowboys have a pitiful defense (mostly) and a QB that can’t keep himself from making bad decisions late in games WITH A LEAD. Those things forced the Cowboys to be perfect in play calling, which is an unreasonable expectation. No other coach has to be perfect in play calling to win games, why do we expect it from Garrett. The defense is the most at fault for the loss. Romo is second at fault for throwing an unnecessary interception with a lead. Garrett/ Callahan is 3rd at fault for not running the ball on either 1st or 2nd down on the punt drive and not calling a strict run play on the first interception drive.

  21. I realize Dallas’ defense is riddled with injuries and inexperience, but they couldn’t stop a 90 year old woman using a walker. Pathetic. If Kiffin comes back next year, it will be empirical fact that Jerry Jones has become completely delusional.
    How else do you score 50+ points and still lose?

  22. But wait, the problem over the past couple of years was Rob Ryan!

    How is that change working out for ya Cowgirls??? Lets see:

    NO D = #5
    Dallas D = #32


  23. As more time passes, I have to say I’m not as upset with Tony Romo’s decision on the first INT.

    He’s thinking that his D isn’t stopping anyone, so he has to put the game away with the TD. And, if he makes a good throw, it’s a long completion or a TD. He also sees that they’re stacked against the run. So he changes the play. The bad thing was he made a poor throw — not a bad decision, a poor throw.

    My problem is with the play call. If you want run the ball as Garrett and Callahan, you call a run, not a run-pass option.

    I also have a problem with three-straight pass plays earlier in the second half. When your back is running the way Murray was, there is never a reason to go with three straight passes.

  24. Lets look at this in detail.

    Cowboys allow Packers to go down the field and score a TD to open the second half.

    Score: 26-10

    Cowboys offense responds with an 11 play 6:35 drive for a FG

    Score: 29-10

    Cowboys defense allows Packers to go right down the field for a TD

    Score: 29-17

    Cowboys have potentially poor play calling drive with 3 straight passes and a punt. Was it play calling or poor execution? I don’t know, I would have to watch it to see. They still have a 12 point lead however.

    Cowboys defense allows Packers to go right down field and score a TD once again.

    Score: 29-24

    Cowboys offense responds with 10 play 4:52 second TD drive.

    Score: 36-24

    So with 8 minutes to go in the game and after the poor play calling drive, the cowboys still have a 12 point, 2 score lead.

    The Cowboys defense once again allows a TD drive to the Packers

    Score: 36-31

    The Cowboys call 3 straight pass plays which result in a first down. They follow it up with a Running play that gets 4 yards. On 2nd and 6 with a 5 point lead, they call a run-pass option because they expect the defense to load up against the run and want a way to combat that. The defense does in fact load up against the run so the QB decides to go to the pass option. Unexpectedly, one defender makes a good play to pressure the QB instead of playing the run, the QB gets away from that pressure and instead of throwing the ball away to make it 3rd and 6 he throws the ball to the defense with a poor pass and poor decision.

    Score: 36-31

    Cowboys defense again allows the Packers to go right down the field to score a TD and get the first lead of the day.

    Score: 37-36

    Two plays into the last drive, Romo throws game losing interception, part of the fault may go to the receiver.

    Now tell me why Garrett’s play calling deserves most of the blame in this loss. It’s possible that if the Cowboy’s run the ball more on the second drive of the half that they score a TD and everything ends up different, who knows but to fault offensive play calling for one bad drive when the defense had 5 straight bad drives is ridiculous. To fault the coach for Romo’s interception is also ridiculous. Romo is a professional QB, nobody forced him to go to the pass and nobody forced him to throw the ball to the defender when throwing the ball out of bounds would have been a much smarter decision. How would have the game changed if Romo would have just thrown the ball away? People want to say the Cowboys ran the ball well, but they also threw for 350 yards, so it’s not like they were struggling passing the ball either.

  25. Funny reading these posts written by “Fans” who’s teams have a history of getting thumped by the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys have given their fans an entire season of football to watch again. Possibly setting up a showdown in week 17 doe the division. There are teams out there who’s season ended 4 weeks ago. Empty stands! Playing for nothing. And someone posts “” most mediocre franchise in sports”? Are you stupid? Unless you are a Seattle fan, your season is over and you need to get over yourself. Dallas will polish their 5 rings in the off season and work to get back on top. As far as” mediocre franchise in sports”, there are franchises that have never given their fans a Lombardi Trophy . And yes, our house is also bigger, nicer and wealthier! Wealthiest sports franchise in the NFL with 5 rings (mediocre?). Yes the last was won in 97, however once you win them, they can never be taken away or discounted, something you wannabe’s still cant figure out. Seattle wins the Superbowl, and everyone else come in last. And btw, Yes, if Dallas wins out they win the East. Like it or not.

  26. I really thought Bill Callahan might have learned his lessons in Super Bowl XXXVII. In that game, he took a team and prepared them to run at the Buc’s full steam ahead and not do the passing game plan that J. Gruden expected & knew so well from coaching the Raiders the year before. Nope, two days before the dance he changes it? And delivered the game right into the Buc’s hands.

    He did the same thing in this game. A winning game plan from the start, the run was killing the Packers and then (BLAP), change the game plan 360 degrees to his stupid pass happy ways.

    He is done as a NFL coach. I will never forgive him for our SB loss, and I don’t think the Cowboy fans will forgive him for this one. Stupid is as stupid does, and Callahan just keeps proving he is stupid.

  27. I completely agree with Aikman. However, this is a new NFL. Passing and high scoring is what the NFL is all about now. Being a 4000 yard passer used to be fairly rare but now there are several guys each year who hit that number. The days of ball control offenses and Emmit Smith type RBs dominating the 4th quarter are over. It’s about the big passing plays downfield and coaches and OCs can’t help themselves to want to pass, even if the running game is working just fine. That’s why pass interference calls, as Jon Gruden says, is so significant now. That penalty decides games. The play calling wasn’t weird Troy. It’s just how it is now. //

  28. Romo will be out played by yet another Washington QB for the third game in a row, and Alfred Morris will run it down their throats. Skins by 10+ in London Fletcher’s last home game.

  29. Lesson:

    Your pocket will not buy you Lombardi’s for your mantle and/or your team Mr. Jones.

    The moment Jones steps out of the spotlight, the Cowboys have a chance of being more than below average to mediocre.

    Until then, all you have is a billon dollar stadium with more drama and storylines than Wrestlemania.

    ~ The Logical Sports Fan

  30. The Dallas cowboy haven’t won a thing since the stars recruited before Jones became the owner retired or slowed way down. I Jerry is in it for the money and his ego wont let anyone else build the team but him. As long as he persists in that, the Cowboys, once my favorite team, will be mediocre at best!

  31. Aikman has blatant bias in EVERY call he commentates, not just Cowboy games. It’s annoying to pay for Sunday Ticket and have to listen to commentators who call games completely 1 sided.

  32. For once in rooting for the cowboys to make the playoffs.. It would be one of the easiest wins for the wildcard teams.

  33. I think Tony admitted he messed up. What is truly amazing is that Callahan calls the plays to HC Garrett, then Garrett relays the play to Romo. Why in the world would Garrett not intercept the play and tell Tony that under no circumstance are you to pass the football!!!! Callahan may be a dufus but what does that make Garrett, the exulted Head Coach and our “All Pro” quarterback????

  34. They should listen to Aikman. He could hand the ball off to the RB to win games with the best of them. You’d think Garrett, right there holding the clipboard, would have learned this lesson.

  35. I can’t stand Aikman as an announcer (he never can admit he erred when first looking at a review or predicting the wrong play) but he’s right here. Bet he never gets invited to Jerrys place.

  36. Aikman is spot on with his comments but some of you people sound like pure idiots..smh.

    These are two winnable games irregardless of our deficiencies on defense. We only can control what we do. We win and we’re in and we’ll take our chances in the playoffs.

    I’m amazed how the Dallas fan base and Dallas media absolutely throw this team under the bus EVERYDAY at every chance they get. It’s “mind-boggling and bizarre”

    I have faith Romo and this team will get this done…period


  37. The whole game comes down to the check out of the run to the out pass. And that was a perfectly viable option but nobody thought to block Matthews who blew up the play. The mistake was the still trying to throw the ball and Shields made a great play. Romo should just have run off to the left for what he could get. When the right thing needs to be done in those critical moments, Romo doesn’t tend to shine. That is usually the difference between a champion and a stat gatherer.

  38. So what if Romo actually had a defense to speak of. I’m not saying the play calling wasn’t horrific but if we actually had a D we could get away with some bad play calling. All that said we need to run the ball at least 25 times this week to win, Cousins is a decent QB with a quick release that the boys will not be able to stop if he gets on track.

  39. I was thinking exactly the same thing while watching the game. Frankly, I think Garrett, Callahan, & Romo need to be held highly accountable for the outrageous play-calling, especially in the second half. Ridiculous!

  40. You know..
    One thing everyone just seems to keep overlooking that is really at the root of all of this and has NOTHING to do with the offense, or play calling, or penalties or Jerry Jones, or Jason Garret.


    The end.

  41. “The philosophy has always been you throw the ball early in games to build the lead, you run the ball late to win games. And I believe in that. That’s the way we did it in the ’90s.”

    Really Troy??? I remember the NFC Championship game vs San Francisco in 1993. The Cowboys were leading 24-20 with 4:14 left in the game. Did the Cowboys of the ’90’s turn and hand it to the NFL All-Time leading rusher behind 5 Pro Bowl blockers? NO!!!!

    Aikman threw a slant to Alvin Harper for 70 yards.
    He threw a flat pass to Darryl Johnston.
    Ran the ball to Emmitt.
    Then threw a TD pass to Kelvin Martin.

    4 plays, 3 passes. Threw the ball 75% of the time when they were in the exact same situation as the Cowboys were in on Sunday. The difference is that Aikman executed and Romo didn’t.
    Troy is it only good to throw the ball in that situation if it works? or if it’s you throwing?

  42. philly8679 says:
    Dec 20, 2013 9:02 AM
    Troy the cowboys are 7-7 and the eagles are 8-6 so if the cowboys win out they would be 9-7 and if the eagles won out they would be 10-6, so maybe you should redact your statement ???

    Cowboys and Eagles cannot both win out the rest of the games because the Cowboys and Eagles play each other in week 17. So either Cowboys or Eagles will lose that last game. If they both win this week they’ll go into the last game against each other with a record of 8-7 (Cowboys) and 9-6 (Eagles). If Cowboys beat Eagles in week 17 they will be tied at 9-7 with Eagles but would win the tie breaker.

  43. The comments on here are funny. Clearly, most of you know nothing about football. Just because you pay attention to fantasy football, players and stats doesn’t mean you know something. You’re not a fan of the NFL. You’re a fan of fantasy football. Big difference.

  44. “Aikman is the best announcer by far.”

    IMO, Mike Mayock and Brad Nessler are the best NFL announcers. They don’t get enough credit.

  45. averagjoe says:
    Dec 20, 2013 1:09 PM
    The ironic thing here is that it was Aikman who urged Jones to hire Garrett in the first place.

    And that’s why he’s saying what he said. “and that’s the way Jason Garrett would prefer to do it” when speaking of sticking to the run when they were ahead in the second half. He was basically throwing the blame on Callahan and Jones for giving Callahan the play-calling responsibilities.

    It would be hard to walk away from the millions of dollars a year, but I’d have more respect for Garret if he’d told Jones to get bent when Jones told him that Callahan would be calling the plays.

  46. TA is correct and wiley16350 looks questionable at best…. you can’t just look at individual play breakdown and ignore clock effect:

    when you are rushing almost 8 yards per play and you are up that big, you keep running because:

    – you will likely run enough game time off to eliminate one or maybe even two drives from the other team

    – you will likely get at least one more TD with such a high rush yards per play

    – you cut the turnover probability dramatically

    – you will rest up the D and no matter how bad they are, they will be better more rested…

    TA is right, it was bizarre….

  47. Jerry should hire Aikman to be GM. Not that I think he’d be a great GM but Jerry could save some face because Aikman’s always been one of his guys and as far as I’m concerned I would rather anyone other then Jerry to run this team.

  48. For those who want to defend Garrett I think you need to consider this team’s total body of work during his tenure as head coach. It’s not like this is the first time the cowboys have bumbled away a lead late yet he still stands there smiling like howdy doody. At some point he has to take control of some aspect of this team. If he doesn’t why is he even there? To chest bump Dez Bryant after he makes good plays? I’ve seen enough of this guy celebrating like fool only to be sulking in defeat moments later to realize he is not what this team needs as a head coach.

    If you want to alleviate him of all responsibility you are doing this team a great disservice. Like Jerry said, the window is closing. You have wasted a bunch of talent under Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett. Time to get a real coach again. I mean has this team taken a single step further from the point where Bill Parcells got them?

  49. If Aikman was playing, scored 40 points and lost the game, and he got blamed for the loss, he would call it bizarre

  50. The Cowboys have to get rid of the only girl on their team before they can be a winning franchise again. The name of that girl is Tony Romo.

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