Troy Aikman's theory: Garrett lost track of timeouts

Troy Aikman has qualified as a trusted friend of Jason Garrett since their days together in the Valley Ranch quarterbacks room.

But Aikman isn’t even buying Garrett’s explanation about the clock-management gaffe in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals.

Garrett insists that he intentionally did not use a timeout after Dez Bryant’s catch for a first down with 26 seconds remaining in regulation. That doesn’t make sense to Aikman.

“It sure seemed to me that the Cowboys weren’t aware of having two timeouts,” the Hall of Fame quarterback said during this week’s edition “Hot Reads with Troy Aikman,” his YouTube show. “Otherwise, I think you burn that timeout and you save the last timeout for your field goal team. But if you’d used that timeout right away, then you’re capable if you make that decision of running another play.

“Now there are those – and Jason was one that said this – well, if you run the ball and you lose yardage or if you drop back to pass and you take a sack, now you take yourself out of field goal range, which happened earlier in that ballgame. So at the end of the day, if they had called timeout, would they have tried to get more yardage or would they have tried to position the ball? I don’t know, but it sure seemed like an opportunity lost.”

Aikman also mentioned that Garrett’s Cowboys had won several close games this season, including the previous two weeks. However, Aikman acknowledged that it’s difficult for an inexperienced head coach to also call plays, although recent Super Bowl winners Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy have succeeded in the dual roles.

“That’s a lot on your plate,” Aikman said. “When you’ve not been a head coach before and then you’re put in that position, I think for the most part guys handle those situations very, very well, but there’s a lot of things. Clock management, I think, is probably one of the most underrated aspects. It takes a lot of time really studying it and putting yourself in a position to be successful when you get to those moments in the game.”

The hours of studying don’t matter if a coach forgets how many timeouts he has left, which is what Garrett’s good friend figures happened in last week’s loss.