Whitt's End: Cowboys Coach McCarthy Already Has Garrett Beat
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 9.25.20 ...
*Just two games into the Dallas Cowboys season and it’s crystal clear: You can’t be a fan of both Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy any more than you can like Harry Styles and Johan Strauss. While the former head coach was so conservative he once punted from the opponent’s 41-yard line on fourth-and-1 in overtime, the new boss is already 1 of 5 on fourth downs, has called two fake punts on his side of the 50 in the same game and sacked conventional wisdom by attempting a two-point conversion facing a nine-point deficit.
Garrett is the safe Blackjack player that stands on 16; McCarthy the gambler who doubles down on 6. (Though the new boss hates being called a "gambler,'' as Fish explains below.)
Though I’d preferably see quarterback Dak Prescott and not punter Chris Jones throwing this team’s pivotal passes, give me McCarthy.
Granted, I don’t comprehend the math behind last week’s premature two-point attempt. But in America we can’t even agree on how – or if – to wear a mask, how can we expect to be united in a risk by America’s Team?
We absorbed a decade of Garrett’s playing-not-to-lose vanilla, the result of which was talented teams regularly underperforming into .500ish records and failing to win multiple playoff games in a season.
McCarthy’s aggressiveness is jarring and, at times, head-scratching, but over the course of a season it will give the Cowboys a better chance to win.
*Another reason you should embrace McCarthy: He’s molding his system to fit his talent, not vice-versa. The result? The Cowboys have used their “11” personnel – one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers – on 85% of offensive snaps, by far the most in the NFL.
When you have Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, get them on the field together as much as possible.
*While I fervently support Black Lives Matter, the facts do not lead to Breonna Taylor being targeted and/or murdered because of her skin color. That said, I empathize with the outrage over this week’s grand jury decision because … A Louisville police officer was charged with multiple felonies for shooting into adjacent apartments, but not Taylor’s. And the officer that fired the fatal shot wasn’t charged at all.
There is a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family. There have already been corrective reforms made in her name at the Louisville Police Department. An officer involved has been fired and charged. But – although this case didn’t approach murder – nothing short of “negligent homicide” seems to represent justice.
*I know Dwyane Wade is long gone and the Dallas Mavericks exacted sweet revenge in 2011, but I still can’t make myself root for the Miami Heat. Wade flopping in 2006. LeBron James mocking Dirk Nowitzki’s cough in 2011. I like former Mav Jae Crowder and I love me some Jimmy Butler, but there’s just something about the Heat that makes me pull for … whoever they’re playing.
*Blue Bell ice cream may be as Texan as bluebonnets, but the Brenham-based company this week was slapped with the largest food-safety fine in U.S. history. The creamery must pay $17.25 million for not recalling contaminating product in their 2015 listeria outbreak that killed three people.
Amazing how irrationally loyal Texans just conveniently forgot that case last summer when shopping in their freezer section.
*What kind of short-but-sour year was it for the Texas Rangers? They weren’t able to show off their new stadium, which has been panned for its exterior appearance. COVID-19 swept through their radio (Matt Hicks) and TV booths (C.J. Nitkowski). Free-agent gem Corey Kluber pitched only one inning. They have allowed eight grand slams in 57 games, just one shy of the franchise record for 162 games. Meanwhile, slugger Joey Gallo has five at-bats with the bases loaded and has driven in exactly 0 runs.
Oh, and at 19-38 they enter this weekend’s final three games against the Houston Astros with a win percentage of only .333, which would be the worst in the franchise’s almost 50-year history.
*Lone bright spot for the Rangers is a veteran who wields a ton of power without swinging a bat. Former Nashville radio disc jockey Chuck Morgan will on Saturday be behind a Major League Baseball stadium microphone for the 3,000 consecutive game. That’s 38 straight years without missing a game, 37 of them in Arlington (He spent 2002 with the Kansas City Royals). Take that, Cal Ripken.
Morgan, the team’s No. 1 ambassador and iconic public address announcer, is also scheduled to work the World Series at Globe Life Field next month.
*Again, I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable enough to break down the tactics of the Dallas Stars’ 2-1 Stanley Cup Final deficit to the Tampa Bay Lightning. But I do know this: Leading scorer Tyler Seguin has picked the worst possible time to endure a career-worst 12-game drought without a goal. It’d be like the Mavs trying to win the NBA Finals with Luka Doncic not producing a triple-double for 3 weeks.
*While the Stars battle the Lightning, their most familiar play-by-play voice is fighting cancer. Ralph Strangis, who called the team’s Stanley Cup appearances in 1999 and 2000, recently underwent multiple surgeries for bladder cancer, the same disease being fought by legendary Ticket host Norm Hitzges.
Strangis, who teamed with analyst Daryl Reaugh to produce the popular “Ralph ’n Razor” booth for 25 years, left the team in 2015 to pursue other interests such as traveling through Europe, going back to college and acting. In 2016, I watched him in a play at Dallas’ South Side Music Hall. He’s a talented, tough man with a telling tattoo:
“The lion does not concern himself with the opinion of sheep.” Strangis’ replacement as the Star’s No. 1 voice – Dave Strader – died from cancer in 2018.
*Ominous trends heading into Sunday’s Cowboys-Seahawks: In two games Dallas has two sacks and one interception while Russell Wilson has thrown nine touchdowns and only 11 incompletions. Add Chidobe Awuzie out with a hamstring injury and you get … yikes.
*From Charlie Waters tearing up his knee in a preseason game in the Kingdome in 1979 to Tony Romo’s botched hold in the 2006 Wild Card Game, Seattle has never been kind to the Cowboys. But, digging deeper, Dallas has been horrible lately anywhere outside of AT&T Stadium. Their last 45 possessions on the road have produced only five touchdowns.
Most glaring disparity: In 14 games at home, Cooper has 93 receptions for 1,520 yards. In 13 road games, he has only 53 catches for 575 yards. Does. Not. Compute.
*Chalk another one up for science. Using a new DNA testing program, Fort Worth police this week arrested a 77-year-old man in a 46-year-old murder case. In 1974, Glen McCurley abducted Carla Walker from a bowling alley before beating, raping, torturing and strangling her to death. Now, if found guilty, he’ll die in prison. I wonder if he spent even one day of his 46 free years without thinking about his crime.
*Jordan Spieth has officially been dethroned by Bryson DeChambeau as DFW’s golf poster boy. Remember just yesterday when Spieth – from Jesuit High School – won three majors at age 23 and was seemingly poised to dominate the PGA?
He now can’t make a putt, or a cut, paving the way for SMU’s unorthodox superstar.
DeChambeau, who won last week’s U.S. Open by six shots, is threatening to revolutionize the staid sport with his bulk, technology and motivation. His motto is borrowed from, of all places, the movie Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming.”
*Speaking of local kids having quite the career by age 23, we are witnessing a DFW product go 43-0 in high school, win a Heisman Trophy, be a first-round pick in both the NFL and MLB, win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and rush for more touchdowns than everyone except Christian McCaffrey in leading his team to a 2-0 start in 2020.
Kyler Murray’s future seems as bright as any of our DFW-related stars.
*2020 sucks, but from Luka’s Bubble to the Stars’ run to the Cowboys’ improbable comeback over the Falcons, sports helps.
*I realized this week that I apparently haven’t looked closely at a nickel for 15 years.
How is that possible?
*Cowboys’ special teams coach John Fassel called the epic onside kick “Watermelon.” I’m going with “Fidget Spinner.” Either way, it’s one of the 10(?) most memorable singular plays in franchise history.
READ MORE: Inside The Cowboys 'Watermelon' Kick
Hail Mary. Bob Lilly’s 30-sack of Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI. Alvin Harper’s 70-yard catch in the 1992 NFC Championship Game. Bart Starr’s sneak in the Ice Bowl. Leon Lett’s ice gaffe. Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard run. Dwight Clark’s catch
Yeah, Fidget Spinner belongs in there somewhere. I think. Stay tuned.
*The NBA missed a free throw this week. Undoubtedly America’s league leader in racial equality and awareness, basketball should’ve honored the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a champion of women’s rights and fairness for all. But I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. For all the NBA has done for Black Lives Matter, a recent study shows that 81 percent of political donations by league owners have gone to Republican candidates or causes.
*Buddy of mine has an ingenious idea I’m too afraid to execute. He always keeps a stash of zip-ties in his glove compartment. Why? For when he encounters a horrible parker, one of those cars – hello, white pickups – that brazenly takes up two spots at the grocery store.
Saw him get out his car last week and attach a shopping cart to the offending vehicle’s door handle. Vigilante, indeed.
*Maybe I appreciate coach McCarthy’s risky business because of my affection for a radical high-school team from Arkansas I witnessed in 2015. Kevin Kelley’s Pulaski Academy waltzed into Highland Park and – without ever punting or kicking an extra point and trying an onside kick after every score – whipped the highly touted Scots, 40-13, breaking their 84-game home winning streak.
*By the way, here’s betting all those “done watching the NFL because of the kneeling” magically managed to see the Cowboys’ comeback.
*Couple weeks ago I blasted TV fraud/blowhard Skip Bayless. Now it’s Aaron Rodgers’ turn, albeit indirectly.
READ MORE: WATCH: Touching Moment - Cowboys Dak Prescott and Hurst On Mental Health
“I applaud Dak for speaking out,” the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback said this week. “I think it’s phenomenal. That’s true courage and that’s true strength. Other people’s opinions of Dak has nothing to do with him. That’s their own insecurities about their inability to deal with their own shit probably.” Amen.
*Wait, what happened to all those supposedly dangerous migrant caravans that were at America’s doorstep in 2018? Let me guess, the murder hornets got to ’em?
*Cowboys-Falcons earned a 22.1 TV rating on Fox last week; Stars-Lightning Game 2 a 5.3 on NBC.
*In step with 2020, we’re being told to limit Trick-or-Treating this Halloween and, on Dec. 31, the annual ball drop in Times Square will be only virtual.
*This Weekend? Friday let’s play some golf. Saturday let’s go see a renowned mentalist’s show in Fort Worth. Sunday let’s watch a team with zero pass rush try to contain Wilson. As always, don’t be a stranger.