I took a few days off to avoid the huge emotional outpour and hyperbole. Sucked to lose that game and didn’t want to wade in the pool of despair. Now that I’ve had time to look forward, I think the fix to getting to the next level is pretty simple and takes two steps:
1. Fix the run game! This means schematically, the O line personnel, and adjusting the roles of Zeke/Pollard.
Dak probably will never be an elite QB, but he’s more than good enough to make a playoff/SB run if the team is built correctly. More on Kellen below, but they made it obvious that they hoped a high flying passing attack would lead them to where they wanted to go, which was a miscalculation. Tannehill, Garrappolo, and even Goff have ridden high caliber run games and creative play action passing to Conference Championship Games. It’s those blueprints we must follow, not Kansas City or Buffalo.
Regardless if you think Dak is 7-10 or 11-13 overall amongst QB’s, the gap between team building for the elite 5-6 guys is way different than for the next group. Outside of those top guys, QB’s need ample support. Talk about trading or cutting him is not actually possible, so we must continue to build the best team possible around him. This ain’t a Dak thread, but had to put this here as a disclaimer that we must find ways to build around him, bickering about him being here is pointless.
2. Offensive scheme needs adjustment.
Talked about it a bit above but Moore has made it clear that either he doesn’t know how to scheme up a good run game or he doesn’t want to. I underestimated how Kellen’s Linehan/Garrett tutelage mixed in with his Chris Petersen tutelage. Moore likes the trickery and formation splitting of his college coach, but the bread and butter of his route combinations and tendencies come from Linehan/Garrett with whom he spent his entire NFL career with.
Moore seems to be just as pass-happy as Garrett was while using many of the same route combinations Linehan did. Multiple WR’s running stop routes, long developing routes, and a lack of a cohesive quick passing game all scream the previous regime. Multiple analysts broke these combinations down, and even though Dak missed on some stuff, the overwhelming sentiment is that there is too much simplicity in these concepts. Where have we heard that before? This coaching tree isn’t super adaptive either, and nothing has shown us that Moore is different in that regard.
Again, they miscalculated the pass vs run split when trying to create an offensive identity. Not sure if Moore and McCarthy are the right guys to make the necessary changes there.
The final issue with our scheme is that we don’t really have one. Here’s the link to an amazing Ringer article about Moore’s “scheme”. In a nutshell, he tries to take what the defense gives him. The pillars of this philosophy are “if they try to defend the run we pass and vice versa” and “if they try to take away your best players, we use our role players.” Interesting read, but this presents two fundamental issues:
‘How Kellen Moore’s Anti-System is Fueling the Cowboys’
Issue 1) We have no go-to or bread and butter plays. Since you allow the defense to dictate your a strategy, you’re at their mercy. When things don’t go as planned, a lack of having go-to plays and “this is what we do” calls doesn’t allow your offense to go back into their comfort zone. The team doesn’t have its set of plays that they feel most comfortable and successful with.
Issue 2) Allowing the defense to scheme away your top targets makes you weaker regardless of how deep your weapon pool is. Yes we love Wilson and Schultz, but you can’t ignore Lamb and Cooper because the defense is scheming against them. We heard Cooper speak up but Lamn fizzled out the second half of this year and I believe it has a lot to do with Moore simply going to who has the “matchup”. Your star skill players should be targeted and relied upon to carry the bulk of your offensive production, regardless of how the defense is playing them. Relying on solid contributors to contribute like stars is unreasonable.
I know it was a long post, but if we can fix these two problems we’ll be just fine. The defense is built to play with a lead and be fresh and running the ball maximizes that. Would love to keep Quinn as HC and hire a great run-schemer as the OC. A ball control offense that can beat you over the top coupled with this defense would be a match made in Heaven. Anyways these are my thoughts, any ideas?