After each game, we'll grade interim coach Jason Garrett in four departments.
His grades for the 30-27 loss to the Eagles:
Game plan: Philadelphia’s secondary was vulnerable with cornerback Asante Samuel staying home to nurse a sore knee, but the Cowboys were conservative with their passing attack, perhaps because Garrett wasn’t confident his line could protect against the Eagles’ pressure. They also didn’t attack the perimeter of the Philadelphia defense in the running game despite having great success with that last season. Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni came up with the most aggressive scheme since he took over play-calling duties, appearing to rattle Michael Vick at some points during the game. GRADE: C
Play-calling: Miles Austin wasn’t much more involved than an invisible man. He had only three touches, including a double-reversed that went for 26 yards, and was targeted only five times. Quarterback Jon Kitna pointed the finger at the coach when asked why getting Austin the ball against an injury-depleted secondary wasn’t a priority. Roy Williams was targeted only four times, although an incompletion to Williams was one of Garrett’s better play-calls. Kitna’s throw downfield was behind an open Williams. The running game consisted of far too many plays behind the struggling right side of the offensive line. GRADE: C
Game management: There has been some debate about opting to kick a 50-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the first half. It’s understandable that Garrett didn’t want to take the risk of running another play, but why not wait several more seconds to call the final timeout? It’s worth noting that Kitna, not Garrett, signaled for that timeout. Garrett saved all three timeouts in the second half to use on the final series, forcing Philadelphia to pick up four first downs to run out the clock. Unfortunately for Garrett, the Cowboys’ run defense made that irrelevant.
Intangibles: Garrett’s Cowboys don’t quit. They displayed mental toughness by responding to the Eagles’ easy opening touchdown drive with a 10-play, 77-yard drive to tie the game. They showed the kind of resolve that Garrett expects again after the Eagles took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys responding with a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. The Eagles ran the ball down the Cowboys’ throats in the second half, but effort wasn’t an issue. GRADE: B