Special Teams Woes Continue to Hurt Dallas Cowboysby Jayton Washington November 26, 2019 0 comments
The two weakest links in the Dallas Cowboys’ organization are head coach Jason Garrett and the special teams unit coached by Keith O’Quinn. The only think that saved O’Quinn’s job this week is the short week as the Cowboys host the Buffalo Bills (8-3) on Thanksgiving Day. So, the coach should be extra thankful this week, but you can bet he will be tanked next week just as fast as people will be tanking their dried turkey into gravy on Thursday.
Really, how bad is the special teams unit? The special team unit is ranked last in the league overall. That’s right, last. That’s hard to believe when the playmakers on the No. 1 ranked offense in the league play such an essential segment in the special team’s unit. So, let’s take a dive into how poor they really are.
The team only has 163 kick return yards through 12 games so far. That’s less than 14 yards per game, and that is a pathetic effort when you have speedsters like Tony Pollard and Tavon Austin returning the football. Tony Pollard ran a 4.52 at the NFL Combine this year with an upset stomach, but ran a 4.37 at his Memphis pro day. Nonetheless, the duo is dreadful on kick-off returns.
The team doesn’t fare much better in the punt return game. The Cowboys only have 96 yards returned on punts. Again, with speed at your advantage, how is this possible? For comparison, the New Orleans Saints have a league-leading 262 punt return yards for the year.
Field position has been detrimental all year and has forced the Cowboys to start within their own territory the majority of the time. The Cowboys are ranked 31st and start on average at their own 23-yard line. This has resulted in the opponent’s advantage game after game. The punter has punted the ball inside the opponent’s 20-yard line only 14 times which is ranked 25th in the league and the worst in the NFC.
Didn’t the Cowboys have a good special teams unit just a couple years ago? Yes, they did. So, what changed? Former special teams coach Rich Bisaccia had a past relationship with Jon Gruden. When Gruden became the head coach for the Oakland Raiders a couple years ago, O’Quinn followed him to California.
Positive news is on the horizon, though, as head coach Jason Garrett will likely be gone after the season as well as the majority of his staff. The Cowboys will win the division but anything can happen in the playoffs.
However, if the Cowboys fall to the Bills on Thursday with a 6-6 record for the season, will that be enough for frustrated owner, Jerry Jones, to finally fire Jason Garrett? Most would only hope, as that would be the team’s best chance at making a deep run into the playoffs even with a 10-6 record. Place fiery Kris Richard as the interim coach and watch the Cowboys play with intensity, passion, and a meaningful desire to win.
So, here’s to a victory on Thursday … or to a loss in a desperate gamble to finally get rid of the Princeton clapper.