Cowboys implode again in playoff loss to 49ers

Dak Prescott loses to 49ers in 2022 NFL playoffs

The Dallas Cowboy find ways to lose. It’s been a staple of this organization for a while, and Mike McCarthy has kept this tradition going. His clock management has been a disaster all year long, and now his incompetence has helped to lose a playoff game. The quarterback draw with Dak Prescott at the end of the game was inexcusable.

Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan did his best to keep the Cowboys in the game, dialing up some strange play calls when all he had to do was run out the clock with a lead. Jimmy Garappolo contributed with a brutal interception that gave the Cowboys life. Then Shanahan was afraid to go for it on fourth and inches, giving Dallas another shot.

This game was very entertaining and featured two good teams, but the fourth quarter was a complete mess. Dak Prescott didn’t live up to his enormous contract, and Jimmy G threw one of his signature interceptions to stain what otherwise was a solid performance.

Jerry Jones has put together a decent roster in Dallas, and some of their coaching moves have panned out like the Dan Quinn hire. But Jones needs to take a hard look at his team and probably move on from Mike McCarthy.

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Atlanta Falcons blow the Super Bowl

The Atlanta Falcons led the Super Bowl 28-3. Late in the fourth quarter, they had an 8-point lead with minutes left and the ball just beyond the New England 20-yard line. A field goal seals the game and a Super Bowl title, and yet on second down Kyle Shanahan called a pass play and Matt Ryan took a devastating sack.

Of course New England deserves credit for the comeback, and they’ll get plenty as the New England dynasty and the Tom Brady legacy will be discussed ad nauseum. But the story of this game is the Atlanta collapse.

What happened to RGIII?

Robert Griffin III and Stewart Scott

Several years ago I attended the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards and RGIII was there as one of the presenters. He was riding high as a high draft pick after the Redskins had mortgaged their future by trading a boatload of draft picks. Meanwhile, as a Browns fan, I had to hear about how the Browns blew it by not offering even more for the right to draft him.

Several years later things have changed quite a bit. The Redskins are a mess and RGIII has been benched by Jay Gruden. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan is the offensive coordinator for the Browns who are 7-4 with Brian Hoyer as the starter.

What happened?

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Donovan McNabb is not a robot!

Washington Redskins’ quarterback Donovan McNabb looks to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on December 12, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Donovan McNabb seems thrilled to be free of the Shanahans in Washington.

“Some coaches say ‘Hey, it’s my way or no way,’ ” McNabb said via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “You become robotic. That’s when you pull away from your style of play and the way of things that got you successful. If things don’t go as well as you’d like them to, you find out what the mistake was, you correct it and you go right back and get it done.”

Mike Shanahan is a control freak. His son Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator in Washington, seems to be even worse. They personify a disturbing trend where coaches try to do too much, and they don’t let their players play. I think if you make football too scripted, you lose the ability to let your players improvise.

I admire teams like the Steelers that put players like Big Ben in a position where he can improvise and make great plays. Of course all of this is a balancing act, but the Shanahans seems to represent the extreme.

I have no idea how McNabb will do in Minnesota. He has some great weapons, but he’s also near the end of the line. That said, he’s a veteran, and it makes sense to let him play the game.

McNabb’s Agent: Shanahan’s out to get Donovan

Donovan McNabb said earlier in the week that he would like to remain in D.C. in 2011. But his agent Fletcher Smith is making it hard for that to happen.


Fletcher ripped Mike Shanahan
and his son/offensive coordinator Kyle for being “beyond disrespectful” in their decision to bench McNabb. Then he went on to essentially say that the Shanahans have it out for his client.

From ESPN.com:

“I believe there is tension between Donovan and Kyle that’s rooted in the fact that Donovan has suggested modifications to Kyle’s offense based on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career,” Smith wrote. “For example, Donovan has asked all year that the team run more screen passes to help manage the pass rush more effectively. Ironically, Kyle decided to employ Donovan’s suggestions after he unceremoniously benched him on Sunday.”

You have to appreciate Smith coming to defense of his client but is he honestly saying that Mike Shanahan benched McNabb and then Kyle Shanahan employed McNabb’s suggestions with Rex Grossman? As the ESPN article noted – that seems like a bit of an overstatement.

Mike Shanahan has recently fired back at Smith.

“As I stated earlier, when I traded for Donovan McNabb I had hoped that he would lead us to the playoffs,” said Shanahan. “No one wanted him to be more successful than me. When the team was 5-8 and mathematically out of the playoffs, I made the decision to evaluate our other two quarterbacks.

“This was not personal, but strictly professional. The decision was made in the best interest of the Washington Redskins and I stand by my decision. I will attempt to talk to Fletcher Smith directly to clear up every one of his misconceptions.”

If the Shanahans believe that McNabb can’t run their offense, then they did nothing wrong in benching him. If they honestly think Grossman is better than they would be wrong. But at least their reasoning behind McNabb makes sense. (If he’s not going to be here next year, why keep playing him?).

That said, if the Shanahans want McNabb back next year and expect him to compete as a starter, then their decision to bench him for the human turnover machine looks ridiculous. Because even though the Redskins are out of it they would still benefit from McNabb taking as many reps in Shanahan’s offense as possible – especially if he’s struggling to grasp the system. You don’t bench the guy and then say, “But hey, maybe you’ll be better next year. We’ll see you then!”

What a weird situation.

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