In the midst of the Dallas Cowboys losing their sixth straight game last night — and probably their playoff chances as well — I decided I needed to sit down and express my disgust with the current state of my beloved Cowboys.
I want to start with Head Coach Jason Garrett. I like Garrett simply because I believe the Cowboys’ players like him and they play hard for him. With that being said, it’s time to point the finger. His clock management has been brutal every season, he is often way too conservative, and he praises mediocracy constantly. Coaching probably could have been the difference in one or two games of this brutal six-game losing streak. He will get a pass this season because of the devastating injuries to Romo and Dez, but I truly question whether or not Dallas will ever have the coaching edge with Garrett on the sidelines.
Aside from Garrett’s debatable coaching decisions, the next thing that boggles my mind is the defense’s inability to stay consistent and healthy. The defense can look great sometimes — and I’m sure if Romo was healthy it would help keep them off the field — but they are simply unreliable.
Sean Lee simply cannot stay on the field; Rolando McClain was a stud last year, but has actually caused more harm than production this season; the defensive line is always a second too late in getting to the passer; the safety play is abysmal; and the lack of takeaways this season has been embarrassing.
Dallas has FOUR total takeaways this season (3 interceptions, 1 fumble), tied with the Baltimore Ravens for LAST in the entire NFL. Also tied with the Detroit Lions for the worst turnover differential in the league. It’s no surprise, then, that the Cowboys, Lions and Ravens are all headed for the couch this postseason.
Matt Cassel and Darren McFadden are starting at QB and RB for the Cowboys, and you mean to tell me that’s the LEAST of their worries right now?!
Speaking of Cassel and McFadden, I am truly floored by their production against the Eagles. To be honest, McFadden has been solid since getting the starting gig at the New York Giants on Oct. 25. He has gone over 100 all-purpose yards in all three games he started (@NYG, SEA, PHI).
Cassel struggled against Seattle, but he was by no means the problem against the Eagles. He threw one bad pick-6 to a promising rookie linebacker, but he looked much more comfortable and confident than he did the week prior – and he actually moved the ball well. He put up enough points for Dallas to win this game, and Sunday night isn’t the first time this season that the defense has given up walk-off touchdowns in overtime.
The question begs itself of McFadden, though. Can he last? Dallas had plenty of opportunities to fill the giant void DeMarco Murray’s absence left the Cowboys – they could have drafted one of the many talented running backs in this past year’s draft, they could have signed someone in the offseason like Chris Johnson (who is currently among the top 5 in rushing yards in the NFL), or they could have traded for someone after dumping Joseph Randle right before the NFL trade deadline last week. But, here we are, trusting McFadden’s durability heading into Week 10 at 2-6. You have to at least wonder what the Cowboys could have been had they drafted/signed a top back to carry the load all season long.
I feel obligated to address overhyped offensive line. Maybe it’s the absence of Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan (now in Washington with the Redskins), maybe it is growing pains or maybe they were flat out overrated. Whatever it is, this is by no means “the best offensive line ever” as proclaimed by some before the season. Also, Right Tackle Doug Free needs to be evaluated and probably replaced in the draft. Overall, though, they are very young and a bright spot on a currently dim Cowboys team.
As for the receiving core – Terrence Williams has been terrible. You can argue that the loss of Dez really hurt his ability to get open, but the amount of times he has dropped a pass, caught the ball with his body, or just flat out failed to make a big play is alarming. The Cowboys will HAVE to address this position in the draft.
Cole Beasley finally suited up against the Eagles – it was about time he made some plays. This is a guy I want to see on the Cowboys for years to come – he is tough to cover, extremely quick and has good hands.
Dez Bryant looked way better against PHI than he did against Seattle, but his foot remains a major concern for the future. I’m starting to really wonder whether or not Dallas should just shut down Romo and Dez for the season if they can’t win next week @ Tampa Bay (it won’t happen, but worth noting).
- Dallas cannot win without Romo at the helm. They are 6-15 without him since he became the starter in 2006, and 0-6 without him this season (2-0 with him). It goes to show how important the QB position is in the NFL, and also how important choosing the next QB will be for the Dallas Cowboys.
- Dallas has absolutely no shot at making the playoffs if they lose next week @ Tampa Bay. The Giants/Eagles will finish 9-7 or better in my opinion, expecting to go 7-0 when Romo comes back (against a tough remaining schedule) is unrealistic.
- Sean Lee is an absolute monster when he is on the field. The problem is he never stays there. I truly feel bad for the guy. At what point is it time to move on?
- Rolando McClain was arguably the Cowboy’s best defensive player last season. He has been terrible this year.
- It’s not all bad for the defense – Byron Jones looks good; David Irving, the 6’7, 22 year old defensive tackle, is creating noise; and the Cowboys have other young defensive linemen in Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford who will be Cowboys for years to come.
- The Cowboys have went 29 of 32 quarters without a turnover. This is simply unacceptable. The team who wins the turnover battle usually wins the game.
Ultimately, it has been an extremely disappointing season for the Cowboys and fans like me. Things went their way last year, they won close games, they made the pivotal plays, etc. This year it has been just about the exact opposite. I’m not giving up on the season just yet, but if we lose next week @ Tampa Bay I will seriously consider throwing in the white flag.
Then again, Romo comes back the following week. Somehow, the Dallas Cowboys will always lure me back into believing there’s a chance.