Breaking bad: Cowboys thoroughly outplayed, outcoached

Posted Sunday, Sep. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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galloway Name it and the Dallas Cowboys failed at it Sunday afternoon. Failed miserably. Even a whimper would have been an upgrade.

The Cowboys were definitely outplayed. Absolutely outcoached. Most certainly schooled by a veteran quarterback.

That kind of summary was supposed to be reserved for next weekend when the mighty Denver Broncos are on the agenda. But go ahead, and prepare early. Hide the women, children and horses for that one.

Instead, this was the San Diego Chargers doing a hammer job on the Cowboys, totally dominating in the second half, running off 20 unanswered points overall, and in a 30-21 whipping, creating immediate doubts if Mr. Jerry even has another 8-8 club on his failed football hands.

Based on what was observed Sunday, 8-8 would be a miracle.

On a mediocrity scale in the NFL, the Chargers supposedly ranked somewhere below the opponent that came rolling into dilapidated Qualcomm Stadium.

When the Cowboys took a 21-10 lead late in the first half, it appeared the mediocrity ranking system would hold.

Nope.

So, this Bill Callahan thing as the new offensive coordinator/play-caller will now have to be revisited. Going stagnant in the second half, the offense fell victim to that item commonly known as halftime adjustments.

Or fell victim to that dreaded coaching hell also known as being outschemed.

But wait. It gets worse.

The Cowboys’ defense was even more dreadful in the area of being outschemed, outcoached, outplayed, outgutted.

Granted, Sunday broke bad for new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. In the wee hours, son Lane was fired as head coach at USC.

And then the kickoff came here in the afternoon. Monte’s defense got toasted. Philip Rivers, a quarterback with a good NFL pedigree, was a step ahead of Kiffin seemingly on every second-half snap.

Three times Rivers burned the Cowboys for touchdowns when linebackers got isolated on receivers who could beat linebackers in coverage.

Bruce Carter was victimized twice by short-stuff running back Danny Woodhead, and Sean Lee took the fall on a deep route from noted tight end Antonio Gates.

What was Lee doing in Gates coverage, alone, some 35 yards down field? As Frank Broyles used to say on TV, “Where’s the safety man, Keith?”

Lee, for his part, wanted no part of blaming the coverage scheme. He blamed himself for being beaten.

And overall, Lee stated the obvious about what went wrong in the second half. “It’s terribly frustrating,” he said.

Deep burns also weren’t Rivers’ primary weapon in his masterful performance. Mainly, he dinked and dunked, and dumped off in going 35 of 42 for 401 yards and three TDs.

Rivers has been around long enough for everyone to know he can and usually does bail out a play with the dinks and dunks and dump-offs. Tight ends and running backs caught 22 of his 35 completions, 10 of them by Gates.

He’s Antonio Gates. You don’t have stopping him in your game plan?

Lee, who had a first-half Rivers pick (off a Jason Hatcher deflection) and a TD return, actually said, that “the dinks and dunks didn’t hurt us. The big plays hurt us.”

No, Sean. No. No. Maybe Lee was simply attempting to protect the coaches and the failed scheme, but that was the wrong alibi.

And when the Cowboys’ corners were burned by wideouts, it was usually the simple slant route, another of Rivers’ longtime menu items.

Slants are stopped by physical corners, using their hands at the line of scrimmage. Instead, the Cowboys corners’ played soft.

Rivers was playing behind a depleted offensive line, but as the game went on and the Cowboys’ defense wore out, he was operating under minimal pressure.

“We just got outplayed, that’s for sure,” Hatcher said. “Rivers nickeled-and-dimed us up and down the field. They had a great game plan. Rivers made it work.”

Brandon Carr, the cornerback, had the same Chargers’ game-plan comment. “Today was a big letdown for us in all three phases of the game,” he said. “They definitely had the game plan, they had the quarterback to execute it, and they executed that game plan up and down the field.”

If coaching adjustments happened on either side of the ball, and I’m assuming they did, the adjustments never produced anything of a positive rebuttal for the work of Rivers.

The Cowboys were simply a bad football team who were badly coached in this defeat.

And unprompted, a frustrated Hatcher even mentioned the next assignment for the defense:

“Peyton Manning, the best quarterback in the league, he’s coming in.”

And imagine the glee when Peyton gets a look at the game film from this one.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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