Five weeks and 1 day from now the Dallas Cowboys invite the Washington Redskins home for a Sunday afternoon brawl. It’s well known that their season isn’t bound for glory and from the looks of things, the Redskins aren’t going to fair much better so I’m expecting a brawl. Just 2 NFC East teams duking it out in the final contest of the season for some modest bragging rights, at least. And I’m okay with that.
Two months ago I couldn’t even imagine my Cowboys sitting at 3-8 on the year. I didn’t expect Tony Romo to see any form of Injured Reserve. Getting hurt is more or less his specialty across an average season anymore but breaking the same clavicle three times? Surely not!
I knew Rolando McClain would be a slow starter because let’s face it, he’s a proverbial crapshoot in terms of focus and ambition most days. Sean Lee finally managed to complete a preseason without breaking so there was a net. Sure, McClain and fellow defensive teammate Greg Hardy were due to sit out the first 4 games but we drafted Randy Gregory, Damien Wilson, and Byron Jones just for that sort of situation. Next man up! Right?
DeMarco Murray took his 1,800 all-purpose yards to Philadelphia. Darren McFadden, the biggest 1st round bust currently in the league, was a Cowboy and expected to backup a very capable, if not promising, Joseph Randle behind an All-Star offensive line, and Lance Dunbar was also there.
Dez Bryant… the man of the hour. The ink on his brand spanking new 5-year, $70 million dollar deal was still wet and so were most of us! You get the picture; we were salivating over the wins and ultimate dominance of any team we faced.
And then reality set in.
After a lackluster – albeit winning – performance at home to open the season, the Cowboys traipsed into an Eagle’s nest having already soured the first of our victory dances with Bryant and the foot that couldn’t.
One pleasant surprise (maybe if you weren’t paying attention that is) was that apparently while traveling north, DeMarco Murray left those yards from 2014 at the airport baggage claim, but it was a small consolation. Tony Romo was down. The who, what and how aren’t important. When a bomb goes off, nobody cares how unless there’s a threat that it could happen again, and it’s not like he could break that clavicle twice in the same year, could he?
I bring it up because week 2 saw us fans becoming poor fans mighty fast the moment Romo got hurt. But hope dies hard so early in the season, especially when people began speaking of temporary injured reserve. We carried on with optimism and fight, and we cheered our team on in spite of Brandon Weeden being handed the reigns again. After all, Arizona just had a good defense last year, right? I watched the Falcons game on September 27 into the 3rd quarter full of every hope that they’d pull out a win after playing so well in the first half.
Funny thing about that… I saw the opening of the second half but was lured out back by family and friends to get married, and I returned a couple of hours later wondering What. The. Hell?
It was a particularly sour loss for me that day and only the beginning of a string of consecutive losses that were as heartbreaking as they were frustrating. Fast forward through the misery to the moments just before the week 12 contest in which the Dallas Cowboys introduced the Carolina Panthers to Thanksgiving Day football.
Dez Bryant was back. Tony Romo was back. Sean Lee was back again. Rolando McClain was playing with fire and Greg Hardy was just on fire. Joseph Randle had been cut and just arrested in Kansas. Brandon Weeden had been cut and was God knows where.
Romo’s return ushered in the ways of winning to start the trip toward Super Bowl 50 and did so the very same day that Mike on @CowboysNation was enjoying the game live and in person, too. The turkey, cornbread dressing, and my grandmother’s potato salad recipe filled the house with the most beautiful aroma and it was Thanksgiving.
Two weeks. Just 2 weeks, again! Disaster struck and this time we weren’t leading the game by enough to hold out for the win. In fact, many have been arguing that we shouldn’t have been playing Romo at all when it happened, down 3 scores to an obviously superior team. Tony goes down again. Same shoulder, same bone, same outcome. He’s down for the count. Goodbye 2015 season.
We have 5 games left but aside from evaluating players to see who stays and who goes next year, the Cowboys have nothing but pride to play for. And barely even that.
People everywhere are talking about the Cowboys and what will come next. Me? I’m still mourning the loss of this season. I’ve supported Tony Romo and said it loud that he’s my quarterback for years, but even I have to admit that the detractors around me have a point. He’s getting old. He breaks down a lot. Like an old car, in a way, and old cars get replaced by shiny new ones. Romo will start for Dallas in 2016. I have no doubts. But it’s time to get serious about the future of that position.
No college stars doomed to be polished well-known crap in the pros (i.e., Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel). No blaming Matt Cassel for losses given up under Weeden’s watch. No throwing Romo under the bus by blaming our season his increasing fragility. Just executing a smart plan for the future of this franchise… something for which Will McClay is certainly the right man.
You see, week 17 against the Redskins will be a fight because it’s the last time these Cowboys will get to hit something for many months. And with the year they’re having, who can really blame them for taking what they can get?