Cowboys Special-Teams Bad Math: 'It Won't Happen Again'

Mike Fisher

ARLINGTON - A special-teams coordinator cannot live on "Watermelon'' alone.

John "Bones'' Fassel arrived in Dallas with a well-deserved reputation for creativity and success. But like the other vaunted members of the new Mike McCarthy staff, to me, my usual judgment of coaches applies:

"Improvement toward wins.'' That's all that matters.

And so "reputations'' and "colorfulness'' and "creativity'' don't matter much when, for instance, an NFL special-teams group lines up in a game not once with the wrong number of men on the field, not twice with the wrong number of men on the field, but three times - in one game! - with the wrong number of men on the field.

"It's my job,'' Fassel said after an NFL Week 5 Cowboys' win over the Giants marred by a series of special-teams miscues. "I'm usually pretty good at math .. It'll be an easy fix.''

Given that once the wrong number was "12'' and that twice the wrong number was "10,'' yeah, it should be a fairly easy mathematical "fix'' given that it's simply a matter of adding or subtracting ... you know ... one.

But the truth is more complicated that simple math.

Fassel's reputation is a large one, boosted by the Week 2 win over Atlanta featuring a clever (and lucky) onside kick - "The Watermelon Kick'' that fueled a crazy comeback topped by Greg Zuerlein's game-winning kick. But accomplishing one zany thing while also failing to accomplish two simple things?

That's how otherwise-talented rosters start 2-3, which is where Dallas is now as we await a Monday Night visit from the 3-2 Arizona Cardinals.

“You can put that on me,” Fassel said. “It’s an easy fix ... A couple of guys were in injury-wise and then were out, and I just got to do a better job handling that. So, it’s an easy fix.''

Actually, talking about it is easy. Just as it's easy to praise this head coach as being "better'' than his predecessor, or doing so for this defensive coordinator, this D-line coach and this special-teams coach. At some point, even Mike McCarthy's Super Bowl in Green Bay begins to fade in importance if Dallas fails in 2020.

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Same with "Bones.'' Great years with the Rams were great. But ...

“I've got to do a better job on some of those substitutions, especially when a guy is in, a guy’s out,'' Fassel said. "Our trainers do a great job communicating that to me. But it is a hectic sideline, especially in some of these games we played in. … It’s been stressful on the sideline for at least five games, but all good.”

No, it's not "all good.'' You add 10 guys on the field with 12 guys on the field and it equals, in part, 2-3. That's not "all good.'' Fassel and the Cowboys are better than that, should be better than that ... and they get a chance to balance the calculator tonight here at AT&T Stadium.

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