In 2007 the Dallas offense was firing on all cylinders! Most opponents that year came into the game not looking to stop them, but just to slow them down a bit. Many of them could do neither, but a few made the necessary adjustments to force the Cowboys into bad situations, and even worse decisions. Late in the season there was one team in particular discovered the recipe for Cowboy disaster. By the time this recipe was discovered it was far to late in the season for the coaching staff to stop the full speed locomotive, that was on a head on collision course with the Super Bowl hyped Cowboys.
This train continued into 2008 as we are all well aware of. The question now is what will happen in 2009 to change this teams direction?
Many people will point to several different games in 2007 as to the spot where the “wheels fell off the bus”. The game that catches my attention as the “beginning of the end” was December 16th in Irving, Texas. The Iggles rolled into town with nothing to play for. Philadelphia had already been knocked out of playoff contention. The Cowboys offense came into the game averaging; 35 points per, and showed no signs of slowing down.
This game was going to be different though, and we all new it. All the Cowboys Offense could muster through the first two quarters was a 33 yard field goal from Nick Folk. After halftime things would get no better. Just like the first half a Nick Folk field goal is all they would get. Shock and disbelief went rushing through every Cowboy fan, player, and coach. Many of us simply shrugged it off as to say “They just had a bad game!” There was more to this one though, with only two regular season games to go this was more than just a bad game, this was a season wrecker.
The Eagles decided to let it all hang out against the Cowboys that day, they consistently crowded the line of scrimmage, giving no running lanes for Barber and Jones. Allowing the tandem a miserable 13 carries for 38 yards. As well as blitzing Romo on every passing down. Sacking him 4 times and forcing 3 interceptions. This was also the game when the “cover Owens with a safety over top” scheme was first implemented, and executed perfectly! The Eagles held Owens to 2 catches for a measly 37 yards.
Things never got any better for the Boys the rest of the year, and the same issues carried over into 2009.
Now I myself hate to revisit these horrific memories as much as you do, but if this unit is to regain it's high potent attack they must learn from these experiences. Myself and many others have blogged about the short comings of this team in '07 and '08. I have even come to the defense of Jason Garrett, and Tony Romo (as these two individuals have seen the blunt of your anger).
As much as I would like to say that everything is going to get back on track this year, and the Cowboys will be headed back for a try at #6. I simply cannot! What I can say though is that since the end of the season Jerry and the gang have wasted no time in attempting to change not only players on the team, but the teams mind set. This will be a different team. Not just in the names on the back of some jersey's but also in scheme and effort!
We are going to see a team that will run the ball, attacking both the edges and the middle. Tony Romo now has a “team guy” as his #1 receiver, the rest of the receiving corps while not the most talented group in the NFL, each of them have very different and useful abilities. This unit will no longer be running forty yard triple move routes on every play. We will see many more short to intermediate routes, rendering the “crowding the line of scrimmage” scheme Useless! We are also going to see some trickery, just to keep the defense on its toes!
I believe this organization has learned a lot from the super bowl teams of the past few years. The biggest thing they have learned is this; “It's not how many Pro Bowlers you have, but how well your team works together”!
My outlook on this upcoming season is very bright, but I also know that there is a long road ahead. I believe that we will all see a team that may not start out firing on all cylinders, but one that will become better and better throughout the year. This is something I can live with, no matter the final outcome!