The Cowboys have been making a lot of excuses lately after going 2-3 in their last five games. But today's matchup against the Washington Football Team, with major NFC East implications on the line, is a time when Dallas needs to come out and make a clear, emphatic statement about who they really are with the playoffs now on the horizon.
Going all the way back to Week One and their near upset of Tampa Bay, Dallas has had a ready excuse for when things haven't gone their way. That week it was the absence of Zack Martin due to COVID-19 and a strong possibility that his presence, especially against the Bucs' great defensive tackles, would've been the difference maker.
Then the Cowboys got hot and won six in a row. We were all riding the feelgood train at that point, and especially when Dallas went on the road to Minnesota and beat the Vikings with Cooper Rush at quarterback. This now felt like a different squad from the past; capable of overcoming obstacles and winning despite its circumstances.
But then the beatdown from the Broncos came, and soon after two-straight losses to the Chiefs and Raiders. Now came the excuses about some players being missing and others being out of rhythm. We found ourselves focusing the returns of Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and others as the remedy.
Well today, all those guys are back on the field together for the first time since Week One. And another exciting prospect, DT Neville Gallimore, will make his 2021 debut after a preseason elbow injury.
Bottom line; this is as loaded on talent as the Cowboys have been all season. If they lay an egg today in Washington, they've run out of excuses.
The Football Team are the ones who have valid reasons for failure. They've been playing with their backup QB since Week One and lost their top defensive player, DE Chase Young, in Week 10. Today they'll also be without their other starting pass rusher, Montez Sweat (COVID), and a key offensive player in TE Logan Thomas (IR).
Yes, the game is in D.C., but the Cowboys have rarely allowed location to dictate the outcome. Their four losses in 2021 have been split 2-2 between home and away games. And historically, Dallas has been fairly even in its W-L records when at home or on the road.
What's more, Dallas is coming into this game with 10 days rest after a Thursday night game in Week 13. Washington last played in a late Sunday afternoon kickoff in Las Vegas.
If the Dallas Cowboys are who they think they are this season, capable of big things in January, then this is a day that they have to prove it. If they can't handle business against D.C. Anonymous then they have little hope when they finally go up against the NFC elite.
One way or another, the Cowboys will make a statement today. Hopefully it's one that inspires confidence about what lies ahead the rest of the season.