…Could be the best thing to happen to our Cowboys this season. It all depends on how you choose to look at it.
Perusing over my last several contributions, it could be said that I did so under the influence of the infamous kool-aid many fans partake of in the months leading up to the football season. But just because I may have had one too many, doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the potential for disaster the Cowboys have across the board.
Romo’s back and the potential of re-injury, the defense once again setting records in the wrong direction, and Garrett’s struggles with in-game management could yield mediocre if not atrocious returns for the Cowboys 2014 season. That is an undeniable, irrevocable truth that should not be ignored by any fan; to do so could lead to unfair and unwarranted expectations.
But even if everything that can go wrong does go wrong, there still could be positives that arise from the ashes of yet another season better suited for the incinerator.
Clearly there is nothing that could happen more catastrophic than Romo's back injury rearing its ugly head. If Romo goes down, the opinion is unanimous amongst fans and analysts alike – the Cowboys' season will be over.
The silver lining to that very dark cloud, however, is two-fold:
- The Cowboys can no longer ignore the fact that Romo’s best years are behind him and will likely have to address the QB position in the following draft.
- Given the lack of Romo, the Cowboys will likely be drafting high which could put them in line for a QB worthy of carrying Romo’s jockstrap, if not better.
Believe it or not, I’m more realist than optimistic, so I won’t even mention Jameis Winston…or will I? No, I won’t.
The other prevalent argument being thrown against the Cowboys' chances this year is the lack of star-power on the defensive side of the ball. There is literally not one person on that side of the ball opposing offensive coordinators are game-planning against.
However, once again, there are a few positive takeaways:
- No names means no sense of entitlement for anyone; even if their best does not turn out to be good enough, we at least won’t be left with the sour taste of quit and/or half-effort in our mouths following games. These men are not just playing to win; they are playing for their future career in the NFL and quality of life. They do not have a resume that assures them another job next year.
- If the defense does in fact prove to be worse than last year with the loss of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee, and whoever else falls prey to the injury bug, once again, we are likely looking at another hard-to-watch season that, at least, leads to a high draft pick.
Jerry Jones was recently quoted as saying the record is not specifically what he will be looking at in terms of whether or not Jason Garrett receives an extension at the end of this season. That doesn’t mean Garrett keeps his job, come what may. If that were the case, he would have already been handed an extension. On the contrary, Jason is still on a short leash; Jones realizes that much can happen within a season that can impact the win/loss ratio, regardless of Garrett’s contribution and, therefore, has his sights set on a different measuring stick.
If Garrett once again can be pointed to as part of the problem and not the solution; if the Cowboys lose in late-game situations as a result of poor in-game management, he will not receive an extension. The good news is the Cowboys will finally get that shiny new head coach many disillusioned fans have been hoping for. Personally, I’m not completely sold on that being the best thing for the Cowboys, but it will at least shut up the Garrett detractors for a little bit, which would be music (of the silence variety) to my ears.
In life, every situation presents a set of hurdles. A set of pitfalls and potential success that can be realized immediately or eventually, only made possible through the experience earned by a certain degree of failure. It is how the individual or team responds to defeat that distinguishes true winners, even when the scoreboard disagrees.
Far too often lately, I am hearing on the radio, reading in articles, and following discussions on blogs that seem to harp on everything that could potentially go wrong this year for the Cowboys. It's as though listeners/readers/fellow bloggers have been living in a bubble up until this season, and just so happened to decide on a whim to start being a fan of the Cowboys.
As a Cowboys fan you are well-versed in all of the impending doom and gloom; and this is not a condition specific to the Cowboys, or even the sport of football. It is a very simple study in probability. The Cowboys have a 1 in 32 chance of going to the Championship every year. While those odds easily trump our chances of winning the lottery, they still are not very good – 3.125 percent to be exact.
So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Cowboys have not made it to the Super Bowl since the mid-90’s. It’s not like the odds improve the further a team gets away from their last brush with greatness. Unless you subscribe to the ignorance that Dallas is special and holds sports teams to a higher standard, this should not be a difficult concept to digest.
Circling back to the point (and kicking away the soapbox in a fit of disgust), a lot could go wrong this year for the Cowboys – already discussed, as well as a new variety of tragedy. But truth be told, 31 other teams face similar challenges.
Every team’s quarterback is one grisly hit away from being out for the season and sinking the team’s hopes for the year. Every team’s defense starts at ground-zero proving they are a force to contend with when the regular season begins; no one concedes victory until the final second ticks off of the clock in each and every game. And every head coach is second-guessed for the decisions they make, regardless of the winning and the losing of it all.
But if you don’t learn to appreciate the small victories, that don’t involve the Cowboys winning, your chance of not enjoying the football season is 96.875 percent.
Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?
Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.
Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.
Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.
The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."
Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?
Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.
No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.
The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.
All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.
After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.
Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?
Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.
It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.
I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.
I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.
Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.
Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.
The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?
Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern
What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.
Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.
The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.
That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.
With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.
There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.
The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.
Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance
A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.
It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.
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