It would be different if this decision was a one-off. But this is becoming a pattern — and not a pretty one.
Fassel was brought in before last season after after eight years with the Los Angeles Rams. The idea was that he would help improve the Cowboys’ special teams.
But the truth is that the Rams ranked 26th in special teams in 2019 on FootballOutsiders.com’s unit rankings, just slightly above the Cowboys, who ranked 30th.
Remember the Rams’ 2019 season finale? Fassel called a failed fake-punt play that set up an Arizona Cardinals touchdown. A TV camera caught Rams head coach Sean McVay shouting, “What are you doing?!” at Fassel.
Exactly the thoughts of many Cowboys fans on Sunday. Exactly the thoughts of Cowboys fans last season a following a number of failed fake punts in awful situations.
The worst was on Thanksgiving against the Washington Football Team. Trailing 20-16 in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys called a fake punt from their own 24-yard line.
Dallas gave the ball to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. on a reverse and he was tackled after a 1-yard gain. Washington went on to score 21 straight points in what became a 41-16 blowout.
McCarthy was in on that reckless decision, but it’s Fassel who comes up with these gadget plays.
Now, to his credit, sometimes they work, like the watermelon onside kick that helped lift the team to victory against the Atlanta Falcons last year. But that was a desperate situation and it called for desperate measures.