TMF: Cowboys Season Ends On Botched Final Play, Bad Coaching; Plus: Patriots 3-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft
The Cowboys deep playoff ambitions came crashing to an abrupt halt on Sunday, thanks to a questionable final play call with just 14 seconds remaining. Plus: It's Mock Draft Season, Patriots fans!
Chaos. The Dallas Cowboys season came to an end in swift, messy fashion on Sunday. 14 seconds remaining in the game, Dallas had zero timeouts needing a touchdown to keep their season alive.
Dak Prescott took the snap out of a shotgun formation. And he ran with it. A quarterback draw with 14 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Mistake #1. More on that later.
Prescott jolted forward running to San Francisco’s 23-yard line before sliding. 5 seconds on the clock, Dak frantically scrambled attempting to line up the offense and spike the ball. But instead of handing the ball to an official, he gave it to his center Tyler Biadasz. Mistake #2.
Ramon George, the umpire, running behind Dak, bumping into the Cowboys quarterback endeavoring to spot the ball, as seconds continue to tick, and tick. George finally touches the ball, spotting it at the San Francisco 24.
Prescott calls for the ball, spiking it to the ground as the clock shows zeros.
More chaos. Utter confusion across the field, in the broadcast booth, and across everyone’s televisions at home watching.
“It’s gonna be over!” Tony Romo yelled via the CBS broadcast.
“The umpire has to touch the ball; you can’t set your own ball!” Romo explained. “Dak should’ve looked and found the ref! You can’t give it to your center!”
Prescott looked at the officials and back at his sideline in disbelief. Mike McCarthy began signaling to the officials, suggesting that the play would be reviewed, and time would be added to the clock.
None of it mattered. “That’s the end of the game.” referee Alex Kemp announced.
The game was indeed over. 49ers win. Cowboys go home.
For a team as talented as Dallas is, questions warrant answers. Sooner rather than later, too.
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Upcoming Divisional Weekend:
Cincinnati at No. 1 seed Tennessee. This one should be a fun one. Will Derrick Henry return and run the ball well enough to keep Joe Burrow off the field?
San Francisco at Green Bay. If Deebo Samuel continues to play multiple positions and do it exquisitely, I’d add, the 49ers have a shot in this one. This won’t be an easy out for Aaron Rodgers. Oh, and we shouldn’t expect the two head coaches to share Christmas cards after the game either.
LA Rams at Tampa Bay. Will Tom Brady’s magic continue? Being without Godwin and Fournette could pose some challenges in this one.
Buffalo at Kansas City. Future Game of the Week? Josh Allen just lit up the Patriots in a way few quarterbacks have against a Bill Belichick defense. If I’m Andy Reid, I do not want to start off slow against this Buffalo team.
Wild-Card weekend is in the books and there’s a whole lot to sort through. In this week’s Tuesday Morning Football column, we’ll cover:
Mike McCarthy’s future in Dallas could be in doubt. But are we certain offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is the next man up? Jerry Jones has a team ready to win now. Critical decisions ahead for the Cowboys.
The Patriots got embarrassed. So, what’s next for New England? Many will call the season a success due to the development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones. But a defense lacking fight could loom danger for Bill Belichick’s squad next season.
Speaking of New England, we’ll run through the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s right, a Three-Round Patriots Mock Draft.
Glory in Cincinnati. And Joe Burrow isn’t done yet… he’s just getting warmed up. Oh, and props to Zac Taylor for giving game balls out to fans in Cincinnati.
TMF FRONT PAGE: Chaos in Dallas
"I've never seen that come down the way it came down, as far as the collision between the umpire and the quarterback," Mike McCarthy said after the game.
"We were trying to get inside the 30-yard line to set-up the last play. The mechanics were intact from our end of it. The communication that I was given on the sideline was that they were reviewing it, they were going to put time back on the clock. The next thing I know, they're running off the field.” McCarthy continued.
“That's the only facts I have for you.”
The decision was doomed to fail from the beginning. In practice, most NFL teams walk through this exact situation hundreds of times throughout an NFL season. If you’ve been to any team’s practice, you’ve seen it firsthand. With zero timeouts and 14 seconds on the clock, the common consensus is you’re looking at a passing situation with the opportunity to get two plays off, depending upon where on the field you’re lining up at. Even through the middle of the field, the ball travels faster than a quarterback running with it. If Dak had checked out of the quarterback draw and connected with Schultz near the 28-yard line, there would undoubtably been more than enough time to effectively execute the spike and get one more shot at a play to the endzone.
If there’s an analytics person out there who has data to suggest that a quarterback draw in that situation provides the team with a statistically better outcome than that of a pass, email me the information.
The game didn’t really come down to that final play, however. The Cowboys being flagged 14 times for 89 yards in the game, certainly did. Dallas continued to display an undiscipline style of football that is widely regarded as one that reflects poorly on the head coach. You could count two whole Dallas possessions that were killed due to costly penalties. Those drives alone could have been the difference between being down a score and being up a score. Or at the very least, in a tied game heading into the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
"We've practiced it," Prescott said after the game.
"You hand it to the center. The umpire, all he has to do is usually come in and tap the ball. Don't necessarily know exactly, why the hit (with the referee) happened, I guess. Yeah, I know he's going to come in and touch the ball. We could say, yeah he needs to be closer to the ball or whatever, but in hindsight it's just tough. Just tough to accept."
Hard to accept and hard to believe, truthfully. The decision to call a quarterback draw and mismanage the clock in a game that you had to win is something that NFL coaches get fired for. In fact, we’ve seen it plenty in the past.
After that loss, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could consider making a change at head coach. At the very least, it’s something that needs to be discussed behind closed doors. Both of Mike McCarthy’s top assistants have drawn serious head coaching interest from other teams. Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore have already begun preparing for numerous head coaching interviews with teams across the league.
If there’s doubt regarding the future of McCarthy in Dallas, Jones may elect to jump at hiring from within before missing out on one, or both, of his top assistants.
Would Kellen Moore be the right hire? It’s fair to question, particularly when you consider that Moore was reportedly the one who called the questionable quarterback draw play that resulted in the game ending.
What we do now is that Jones is not afraid to be aggressive with his coaching hires. Jones made Jason Garrett the highest-paid assistant coach in the league in order to keep him from taking the Baltimore head coaching job back in the day. As we know, Jones later promoted Garrett to head coach thereafter. Like Garrett, Kellen Moore is a former quarterback. And also, like Garrett, Moore is a former Cowboys quarterback who has been viewed in league circles as a quick riser since taking on a role in coaching. Moore is just 33 years old and has already interviewed with Jacksonville for their head coach opening. The Broncos, Dolphins and Vikings are all scheduled to speak with him in the coming days and weeks.
In what looks to be a critical defining like offseason in Dallas, the decisions to be made surrounding the coaching is the first step forward, or backwards, for the Cowboys.
TEN THINGS FROM THE WEEK
After Sunday’s season-ending loss to the 49ers, Dak Prescott voiced his support for Cowboys fans throwing trash and items on the field, allegedly at the NFL officiating crew. “Credit to them.” Big fan of Dak, and still am, but this is clearly not his finest moment.
Regardless of a win or loss to Green Bay this weekend, what will San Francisco do with Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason? The 49ers wouldn’t be where they are today, advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs without him. Fascinating story to watch this offseason, especially given how little we know about that goes on in Kyle Shanahan’s thought process.
Saturday’s 47-17 humiliating loss to the Buffalo Bills may have been the worst loss in the Bill Belichick-Patriots era. Surely, there have been some letdowns over the years even when Brady was winning MVP’s. But I can’t remember the last time I watched a Patriots team look so unprepared and disinterested. To me, that’s the most concerning part of that loss. Forget the development of Mac Jones for a quick second. It doesn’t matter how good or bad your quarterback is if the rest of the roster isn’t engaged, or motivated, to win playoff football games. **More on the Patriots later**
It took a bit for them to get warmed up, but the dynamic and dangerous Chiefs showed up in Sunday night’s 42-21 whopping of the Steelers. When things are right for Kansas City, things are really, really right. As we’ve always said, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are a scary out come January.
Not an ideal finish for Jalen Hurts, but I’d still roll with him in 2022 if I’m making the calls in Philadelphia. Yeah, Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay wasn’t his best showing. But he’s reportedly been playing hurt. And he brought the Eagles to the playoffs in a season that very few thought possible. The Eagles should use the plethora of draft picks they have this year to build a solid young team around Hurts. Give it a go in 2022 and see where the kid takes you.
The Steelers are set to enter the offseason in a position they haven’t been in for awhile. Pittsburgh needs a new quarterback. Regardless of what the reporting suggests, I still find it hard to believe Mike Tomlin would be okay with starting the 2022 regular season with a rookie quarterback behind center. Russell Wilson would look pretty rad in black and yellow, right?
Despite making the postseason in season that’s been consumed by distractions at every turn, the Raiders are still in need of change. Possibly even, a minor reset. The recent reporting surrounding quarterback Derek Carr’s future in Vegas seems to be timed flawlessly. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia every bit of praise after the Raiders won four straight games to claim a playoff berth. But is he the long-term answer? He may deserve a shot at the full-time job, but the future of Carr could weigh heavily on that decision too. It’s worth noting that none of Carr's 2022 salary of $19.9 million is guaranteed. Pivotal offseason for Mark Davis’ Vegas Raiders.
Game balls for Cincinnati, courtesy of Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. Props to Taylor for doing this too. Bengals fans should be thrilled about the future of their team with Burrow and Taylor leading the charge.
Whether he stays or goes, Mike McCarthy has to make some changes to his coaching ways. Broken record, I know. But this clip here is one (of many) reasons the Cowboys won’t be playing this coming weekend.
After this marvelous postgame interview, someone better hire this kid @YoungDylan before he takes off.
ASK ME ANYTHING FROM THE WEEK
–With Gallup most likely gone, do you see Dallas targeting a wide receiver in the draft? Cooper isn’t getting any younger and Lamb feels like a wideout best suited playing in an elite tandem of receivers.
I wouldn’t think Dallas would target a receiver in round one or two, but it is Jerry Jones who makes the final call so anything is possible. When they drafted CeeDee Lamb, everyone was surprised. The more likely scenario is they take a shot on a receiver later in the draft and develop him into the third/fourth option in the offense.
–It’s doubtful but could you see Belichick drafting a receiver in the first round?
Yes. I’d be stunned if the Patriots roll into the 2022 season with the same receiving room they have now. Trading for a receiver like Calvin Ridley might be an option for them too. But I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see New England select a player like Garrett Wilson in the first round.
–You’ve been pretty tough on teams like the Panthers for example. Why is that?
I don’t like being spewed bull$@%#, excuse my language. When a new owner and head coach say something, I believe it and take it wholeheartedly. Don’t tell the fans you’re not willing to accept mediocrity and then make every decision possible that negates that notion.
–Where does Derek Carr play next season?
My best guess? Vegas for one more year. If I’m Derek Carr and it’s my decision? Pittsburgh.
–Any thoughts on where Allen Robinson lands this offseason?
Miami maybe? I haven’t checked the cap $ but it feels like they’re committed to building around Tua for now. Robinson and Waddle would be a fun duo.