Who died? I must have missed the crawler at the bottom of the screen.
Something bad happened, because the dour faces and slumped shoulders of the post-game shows tell me this must be a day of mourning. I feel horrible that I don't know what I'm supposed to feel horrible about. Please, someone let me in on this because this is incredibly awkward.
Turns out, this isn't a funeral, but a resurrection. And the anti-Cowboy bloc is none-too-happy about it.
Yep, the Cowboys are the uninvited guests to this 2014 season. Dallas was scripted to be one of the key grips for this year's cast of contenders, not the starring role it's shoved teams aside to grab.
And what's worse for the torch-and-pitchfork mob is the suddenness of it all. The initial impressions of Week 1 offered them hope that this would be a season of guffaws and giggles at Cowboy expense. The drudgery we endured that Opening Day against the 49ers – when Tony Romo stiffly chipped away the preseason rust he didn't chip away during the preseason – galvanized the vultures circling Dallas from afar. Even the local critics dropped 6-10 and 5-11 bird bombs across the Cowboy windshields.
That Sunday was the welcomed splat heard ‘round the NFL, and the national punditry fist-bumped with glee, belly-laughing at the visiting fan occupations of Cowboys Stadium and celebrating an implosion in the making for that *#@*# “America's Team”. The fun had begun.
This punctuated an offseason of snarky and smarmy Cowboy hatred. The worst defense in Cowboys history a year ago would be even worse. The coaching moves were signs of desperation. Romo wouldn't be Romo anymore with that back. Garrett wouldn't survive the season. Dallas should have taken Manziel. Despite three 8-8 seasons, Dallas plunged in the preseason rankings to 24th or worse across the national landscape. Let the celebratory bonfire begin.
Welp, the cops showed up and busted up their happy party. The ticket violation code reads “6-1”.
Before the unapologetic gloating begins, I must qualify. No, I didn't see this coming either, not like this. Yours truly had them at 8-8 “until proven otherwise”. They'd be better, I believed, but a gauntlet of a schedule and years of disappointment couldn't imagine anything like this.
Better because, if for no other reason, there would be legitimate NFL players on the front seven this season, as opposed to the Jiffy Lube part-timers that rolled through here a year ago. Jason Vega, Everette Brown, Corey Irvin, David Carter, Edgar Jones, Drake Nevis…these were the wet-paper soldiers trying to guard the fort last season. They're gone now, as are underperforming DeMarcus Ware and contract-chasing Jason Hatcher. The craft and scheme of Sir Rod Marinelli could only help.
Make no mistake, it's not the 6-1 that has the enemies frothing at the mouth. Every year, a team or two tallies early wins almost by accident, as Kansas City did a year ago. Sometimes the breaks don't even out until much later in the season, one way or the other.
Nope, what's driving the antagonists and eastern-media elitists bonkers is how Dallas is doing this. This is more than sustainable, and they know it. This is the most convincing brand of football being played in the NFL right now, and they know it. This football plays in the cold and in the rain, and most importantly, in December and beyond, and they know it. This is the style Dallas hasn't played since your college kid was in diapers.
The Cowboys are manhandling teams up front. Romo has never seen so much zero coverage in his life because the run game is bludgeoning people. That's allowing for an embarrassment of options in the passing game at Romo's choosing. Beasley one week, Escobar the next, Williams with generous helpings on a regular occasion. I fully expect Hanna and Harris, maybe even Street, to get a special day in the game plan on a Sunday yet to be played. Of course, Dez and Witten are big every game.
What's left is an energized defense that still needs honing and improvement. The return of Bruce Carter should help. Perhaps the addition of DeMarcus Lawrence will bring the pass rush he was drafted for. And the extra strength and size of Josh Brent should help shore up the middle against physical run teams. Got to trust in Marinelli, which by now, we most certainly do.
The comeback against St. Louis was appetizing. The thrashing of New Orleans opened our eyes and had us looking at each other. But that utter domination of Seattle in that pressure cooker is what got us digging the pom poms out of the attic and painting our faces again. Some are trying to downplay that win now after Seattle's slump, but they fail to mention the whooping the Seahawks put on Denver and Green Bay this season.
Like any team, a serious injury to the QB, and it's over. A rash of boo-boos like a year ago to the defense, and it's back to Scotch tape and Elmer's glue. It's no different for Romo here than it is for Rodgers in Green Bay, Peyton in Denver, Rivers in San Diego, or Brees in New Orleans. Attrition and good football don't mix, never have and never will, especially at quarterback.
But that's a catastrophe for another day that hopefully never comes. The Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFL today. Sorry, Broncos, I saw you get beaten like mules against Seattle, again.
Stop. Look around. Smell it, and take in the view. Ain't none of us imagined this.