Once again through the first 2 weeks of December the Dallas Cowboys were being haunted by December’s past. Fans and media alike had one phrase circling through their minds, “Here we go again”. This time however, things would be different.
As soon as the final second ticked off the clock, with the loss at home to the San Diego Chargers Sunday a week ago, Cowboys coaches, players, and front office personnel were enveloped by a storm of fans and media, calling for the dismissal of Wade Phillips, and Jason Garrett. No one and I do mean no one, gave this team a chance to knock off the “unbeatable” Saints.
Quietly however, a transformation had begun to take shape inside the locker room. That transformation was ignited, not by coaches, or by fans, or even by the owner, no this transformation was ignited by the two “Leaders” of this football team, Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware.
The fans of the Dallas Cowboys have been screaming for several years for certain players to “Step Up” and impose their will on this football team, well guess what people? That is exactly what took place in New Orleans on Saturday night.
Coming into Saturday nights match up, the Saints offense had been lights out. In their previous 15 possessions the potent Saints offense had punted only once, yes one time! The Saints were an unstoppable machine.
In the Cowboys previous game against the Chargers, they were dealt a blow that could have been disastrous. Star outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware while trying to make a tackle, took an awkward hit to the head, and dropped him to the carpet. While Ware lay lifeless on the Cowboys Stadium floor, we all watched in horror. The next day we all heard that he would be okay, but that we should prepare ourselves for a trip to New Orleans without him.
Later in the week rumors began to circulate that the Cowboys defensive heartbeat may have a chance to play against the Saints, was this merely a stunt to keep the fans from jumping off the nearest bridge? Was this Jerry and Wade’s way of keeping the team together? Or was this simply DeMarcus Ware refusing to sit by and watch his comrades go into battle without him?
We the fans may never know, just exactly what took place, but I believe that Ware viewed this scenario like this; this is our time to prove ourselves and I will not sit idly by and let the moment slip past us. This was the beginning, this was the flame that ignited the blaze.
The Cowboys past December failures have placed upon the shoulders of one man, whether they should have been or not is debatable, but Tony Romo received the blame none the less. People have questioned his commitment, leadership skills, and decision making. They have even brought his personal life into it as a reason for the team’s failures. Tony however, has never wavered in his beliefs of himself and of his team; he has taken the abuse in stride.
The Cowboy offense has been very good and very bad, many times all of that in the same afternoon. I and many of you have questioned the game plans, play calls, who should start and who should get more carries, not because we know any better but because we believed that this team could be better than it was.
There has been something slightly off about this years Cowboy offense, not personnel wise or anything like that, there was just something missing. The team seemed to be unable to have the energy level and fierceness, to start a game at full speed to let their opponent understand that the Cowboys were in charge, and there is nothing you can do about it.
We have heard Tony Romo say many times that “individual things are not important” he does not care how many yards he throws for or how many touchdowns he has, he simply wants to win.
From the opening kick off Dallas was ready and New Orleans was not prepared for what the Cowboys had in store for them.
All week long we told of the doom that was in store for our boys. We were told how great Greg Williams was, and how he had transformed the Saints defense into this turnover creating machine, and how they would force Romo into making poor decisions. We were told of the great Drew Brees and the dynamic receiving corps. that surrounds him, and how the Cowboys secondary simply would not hold up to the pressure.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense took their first two possessions the length of the field for touchdowns, and put the superdome crowd in their seats. The blaze that had been started by Ware was now raging out of control, a blaze so big not even the waters that once flooded the streets of New Orleans could have contained it.
The Dallas Cowboys were now in position to pull off the unthinkable, they had the unblemished Saints on the ropes, but like any good team they were not going to just walk off into the night without one last fight. The Saints began to scratch and claw their way back into the game behind their MVP candidate Drew Brees. The ultimate stage was now set for not one, but both of the Cowboys leaders to either, (a) let another game slip through their hands or (b) stand up to the challenge.
After the Saints had brought themselves to within seven points of the boys, Tony Romo took the huddle and looked his mates in the eye and said follow me. Twice in the Cowboys final offensive drive they looked as if things would stall, but each time Romo stepped up and made a play to keep things rolling, when others were crumbling to the pressure he simply did things himself.
Tony drove his team 74 yards and put them in position for a chip shot field goal to ice the game, only to have the kicker clank it off the upright. Now there was nothing more he could do, except stand on the sidelines watch, and all of us had that disgusting December slogan run through our minds once again “Here we go again”.
Then with just seconds left in the game and the Saints driving, the man who just one week earlier had been driven off the field in an ambulance, simply looked across the line at his opponent and said, not this time, not today. We all have seen the explosiveness, and power that is DeMarcus Ware but never like this. Like something out the movies DeMarcus launched himself at the snap of the ball, with so much power that when he made contact with Jermond Bushrod it launched the Saints tackle into the air, and in a flash Drew Brees was enveloped, and the ball he once held was now rolling on the Superdome floor.
The 2009-10 Dallas Cowboy season has been a roller coaster ride, was this, the game that they needed to get them to believe enough in themselves to become the team they aspire to be? Or was this just one special night? We do not know the answer to these questions yet, but at least for now, we can be proud of this team, and of what they accomplished. No longer should they be subject to statements like these,
The Dallas Cowboys have zero chance!
SEA 24, DAL 13: Cowboys Offensive Woes Continue
Inefficient passing and turnovers cost the Dallas Cowboys today, leading to a 24-13 loss to the previously winless Seahawks in Seattle.
Dallas's offense produced just a single field goal by halftime, with Dak Prescott only completing two of his first nine passes for just four yards. He got better as the game went on, but still finished with just 168 passing yards and a single touchdown.
The box score will say Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was a bobbled catch by Michael Gallup. The other was not a good throw, trying to find Blake Jarwin in traffic. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner went up and caused a tipped ball.
Both picks ended up in the hands, and ankle, of Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He drew a taunting penalty for bowing at the Dallas sideline on his second INT, almost as if mocking the team for not giving up enough to trade for him.
Ezekiel Elliott did have a big day on the ground; 127 yards on just 16 carries. It's his first 100-yard game of 2018. But the fact Dallas couldn't capitalize on Zeke's production was just further indication of their offensive dysfunction.
Hurry home, Travis Frederick. Who knew you were our Offensive MVP?
- While Zeke did have a strong rushing performance, two critical errors were big parts of the Cowboys' loss. An early TD catch was called back because Zeke stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Also, Elliott's fumble in the 4th quarter squandered a strong drive that could have started Dallas' comeback attempt sooner.
- Dallas' defense looked good early but clearly wore down over time. Seattle RB Chris Carson ground out 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. Russell Wilson took advantage of some miscues in the secondary for two touchdown passes and 192 passing yards.
- Tyrone Crawford got called for another bogus "roughing the passer" penalty after a clean hit on Wilson early in the game. The NFL has to get this figured out, because it's becoming a bigger eyesore for the league than any amount of kneeling ever did.
- Tavon Austin got his second touchdown catch this year, the only Cowboy to record a receiving TD so far this year. Tight end Geoff Swaim had five catches for 47 yards, reminding the world that Dallas actually has TEs on their roster.
- Speaking of which, as Troy Aikman commented on during the game, Rico Gathers was not used in redzone passing situations. Why is Gathers dressing for games and not being utilized in the one situation where he's not a liability?
- Sean Lee left the game after reaggravating the hamstring injury he suffered last week. It meant more playing time for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who reminded you of Lee with how he was getting to the ball. Both finished the game credited with 11 tackles each.
- Rookie guard Connor Williams continues to struggle when up against powerful defensive tackles. It's not a surprise for a converted college tackle, but growing pains still cost you on game day. Dallas may have to consider starting Joe Looney at guard once Travis Frederick comes back.
- Kicker Brett Maher went 2/2 today on field goals, including a 50-yarder. He has hit four straight after missing his one attempt against Carolina in Week 1.
- The rest of the NFC East won their games today. That puts Philly and Washington at 2-1 and now evens up the Cowboys and Giants at 1-2.
- Dallas returns home next week to host the Detroit Lions, who are currently 0-2. They play the Patriots tonight.
Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday
For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.
That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.
With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.
Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.
Now, however, things are changing.
Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.
Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.
Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.
The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.
The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.
Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.
Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.
It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.
Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.
Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.
Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.
This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.
Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J
A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.
Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.
The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.
Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.
Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.
The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.
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