5 Reasons the Cowboys Keep Failing in the Playoffs
Wed, Jan 24, 2024
Why Can’t Dallas Win in the NFL Playoffs?
Author: Jim Beviglia
Dallas Cowboys fans are searching for answers after another promising season ended with a disturbing loss in the playoffs. This time, they were favorites on their home field, but they were crushed by the Green Bay Packers 48-32.
If the Cowboys don’t want this to happen again, they have to address the 5 key reasons why they keep stumbling when it matters most.
Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl in Green Bay with a superlative roster and Aaron Rodgers at the height of his powers and has been living off that ever since. The bulk of his career has been characterized by great regular seasons and face-plants in the playoffs.
Many thought the inexcusable loss to the Packers would be reason enough for him to get fired, but that’s not going to be the case. Instead, he did get the ultimate vote of no-confidence from owner Jerry Jones in that he won’t have his contract extended. A secure Mike McCarthy couldn’t inspire this team when it mattered most. How in the world will the lame-duck version of him be able to do it?
2. Jerry Jones
The recent maneuvers with McCarthy are just the latest in a series of head-scratching decisions from Jones, who hasn’t done this franchise many favors since the glory day of Jimmy Johnson. Instead of going after a young, forceful head coach with a bold point of view, he’s content to hire guys like McCarthy and Jason Garrett because they’re not going to push back on Jones’ whims.
Letting Garrett stay for ten years was bad enough. Would anyone be surprised if Jones rehires McCarthy next year, if the coach pulls out another great regular season and bows out in the playoffs? It’s doubtful that Jones would ever do it, but hiring a strong GM to take charge of personnel and coaching decisions would be a good step towards getting this team back on a Super Bowl path.
3. Lack of Defensive Discipline
The Cowboys defense seems to always make a lot of splash plays during the regular season. The story in the playoffs is completely different. When they’re facing good teams with quarterbacks who don’t make silly mistakes every time they feel a little pressure, the Cowboys crumble.
Dallas has forced just one turnover in their playoff losses the last three seasons, and their defense just doesn’t look as fearsome when they’re forced to play every down. The utter collapse against the Packers this season was the worst that the defense played all year by a long stretch, as it seemed Green Bay could do whatever they wanted at any time.
Dan Quinn is often hailed as a standout defensive coordinator, but his status doesn’t nearly look as great when you consider the postseason. They need more players who are going to stick to their assignments instead of freelancing and looking for an interception or a sack.
It seems like Quinn might be interested in the Chargers job, so the Cowboys might be forced to make a change anyway.
4. No Running Game
Cowboy championship teams have always been able to rely on the ground game, with Emmitt Smith’s success on those 90s teams the most prominent example. But in the playoff losses the past three seasons, the running game has been anemic.
In some cases, that’s due to the game script. In 2022, however, Dallas stayed neck-and-neck with San Francisco all game, but they still couldn’t get their running game off the ground. The offensive line gets a lot of praise, but maybe that’s a bit overrated, considering their struggles blowing defenses off the ball. They might also have to consider bringing in a better No. 2 back this season, because Tony Pollard wasn’t nearly as efficient when given the bell cow role this year.
5. Dak Prescott’s Postseason Issues
The reason that many top NFL betting sites had Dallas as one of the league favorites before the season and throughout the year was the belief that McCarthy’s simpler play-calling approach and adherence to the West Coast scheme would benefit Prescott.
And it did, at least until the playoffs. His counting stats from the Packer loss look great. That’s only because they were so far behind and in must-throw mode most of the game. He helped to put them in that hole with two bad interceptions.
That makes five picks thrown by Prescott in the playoff losses the last three seasons. It’s hard to take too much negative aim at Prescott, because he was generally one of the top quarterbacks in the league this year. But until he proves that he can get through the early rounds of the postseason without a clunker, this team can’t hold championship aspirations.
- Courtesy to Jim Beviglia.