Monday, October 20, 2008

Week 7: St Louis 34, Dallas 14

”Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it” – Daryl Johnston, On Fox Sunday in St Louis

As someone who can often find something positive to say while everyone else seems to be going all negative, I am here to report to you that DeMarcus Ware looked pretty good again. And… that…is…about…it…

There is no way to put a remotely positive spin on yesterday. Playing a team that
is not very good in that they had scored fewer points AND allowed more points than any team in the NFL, the Cowboys were competitive for roughly the first 10 minutes. They were severely beaten from one of the field to the other in such complete and devastating fashion that I think we can all agree that there is a real concern that the 2008 Dallas Cowboys may already be dead and gone.

How did it go so south, so fast?

How could a team that is trying to play without its starting QB look so unprepared? And while unprepared is one concern, looking uninspired is ever worse. I think you can quite honestly call into question the mental ability for this team to overcome even the slightest adversity in its life.

Under Wade Phillips, when everything is going well, this team looks like world beaters. But the first time something is not perfect, it sure looks like this team cries for its mommy. The best email I have received since the game has ended reminded me of what these Cowboys resemble: The Mavericks in the playoffs of 2007. Here they were, the best team in the NBA, and many people’s pick for the NBA title. But, adversity hit, and they proved they had no ability to respond under tough times – and therefore the very average Golden State Warriors looked like a team that could not be beaten. And now, the Cowboys reveal the same frustrating trait. They appear to be frontrunners. When the going is good, so are the Cowboys. But, if they get punched in the face?

It is one thing to get beaten by St Louis. It happens, although it shouldn’t. But not to be competitive? The look on everyone’s face, and the emotional void that was demonstrated on the field yesterday is a very bad indication of this team’s guts. In the pregame show, I called the game a classic “gut check”. Well, we checked, and we found no guts.

Thoughts and Observations from what may have been the worst Cowboys performance in a long, long time:

• Wade Phillips is lost. This team has Barry Switzer II running the team. I hate to knee jerk here, but are you kidding me? After all of the chaos on and off the field, that is how the team shows up to play? How is that not a direct reflection of the coaching staff’s ability to coach them up when Romo cannot be counted on to save the day? But let me get this straight: If I get rid of Wade, I have to promote Jason Garrett? If anyone has to share as much blame as Phillips, isn’t it his 2nd in command? Sorry, but if Jason Garrett is the answer right now, I am not sure what the question is. All Jerry would be doing there is shaking up the team by showing them they just got a coach fired. Of course, with this group, I wonder what effect that would have.

• That offensive line is quite offensive. Andre Gurode with another great shotgun moment. Flozell Adams has no idea what to do with a speed rush, and Mark Colombo absolutely dominated by Leonard Little as Brad Johnson gets mugged again. And don’t even get me started for the OL getting killed on all of the 1st and 10 runs that set up 2nd and 10. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for claiming the offensive line was the strength of this team. They have underachieved in a massive way, and along with the rest of the team, they appear to be concerned enough about it to offer a blank stare into outer space every time the camera finds them.

• Some stats are so shocking that I don’t believe them. Here is one: In 10 drives this season where the Cowboys got the ball on their opponents end of the field, they have scored just 6 points total. 2 Field Goals in 10 shots with a short field? It would seem that many high schools could accomplish that, right? Wow. I might need documentation on that number.

• O-Roy Williams had to think he was still in Detroit. D-Roy Williams is out for the season after breaking his forearm again. But, who didn’t enjoy the reaction of D-Roy when Donnie Avery beat them over the top and D-Roy gestured to the entire world to make sure we knew it wasn’t his fault. We know, Roy. It is never your fault. Was that the last game of D-Roy Williams for the Dallas Cowboys? Place your bets now.

• Steven Jackson is still a stud. And yes, I am still mad about draft day 2004. And, yes, I did say it at the time that the Cowboys tried to get cute when they traded down and took Julius Jones and tried to claim that the 5 Running Backs were “all the same” – Kevin Jones, Tatum Bell, and Chris Perry are the others. Anyway, did it look like anyone was looking forward to trying to tackle him yesterday? I believe Ken Hamlin looked the least interested, but there were several occasions where many Cowboys realized how that was going to be uncomfortable to tackle that large man. Shocking Steven Jackson stat? He just turned 25 years old. He will be good for several more years when the Rams get things turned around a bit.

• Mike Jenkins looks absolutely lost. And now with Newman hurt, Williams done, Watkins hurt, and the defensive backfield depleted…it begins to make sense why Jerry cannot bring himself to completely cut ties with Pac Man Jones. Seriously, Jenkins was a mess yesterday, and his worst play had to have been a long pass to Donnie Avery that dropped incomplete at midfield that would have been a 92 yard TD with a slightly better throw. Jenkins’ coverage there was so poor, that it is impossible to guess what he was thinking. Another 1st round miss? On a defense with Bobby Carpenter and Marcus Spears? Who would guess they would underachieve with a 1st round pick? I know it is early to put Jenkins in that group, but I hoped after having him under your coaching since April would have him looking a slight bit more competent.

• Brad Johnson. Need I go on? As president of the “Tony Romo is better than most people are willing to admit” club, I believe I shall rest my case. At halftime, his QB rating was 22. In the middle of the 4th quarter, his numbers were 14-30, 161 yards, and 3 interceptions. He went 3-4 for 73 yards and a TD in his final garbage time drive featuring the frustrating Martellus Bennett, and that raised his QB rating to 45.5! There were many moments where you could not decide who the intended receiver was. He did not look comfortable, and the receivers seemed in disbelief that his throw was that far off. I have no idea why the Cowboys did not seriously consider trying to upgrade their QB position in the entire off-season, but this is what they have. No wonder you have a hard time moving the ground on short routes or running. Why would a defense respect his throws downfield? Wait until Monte Kiffin spends some time with that game film. Next week you better hope Tony Romo can go.

-6 is now the turnover ratio , which ranks 30th in the NFL. Only San Francisco (-8) and Houston (-9) are worse. So, you have that going for you.

• A piece of good news? Bradie James apparently did not break his arm in half. I was quite sure he did when early in the 2nd Quarter as he attempts to arm tackle Steven Jackson, Zach Thomas puts his helmet into the back of his arm and appeared to snap the arm like a arm bar gone wrong. A normal arm has a Theismann like ending, but apparently Bradie has been drinking his milk. We were that close to a full look at Bobby Carpenter.

• Now what? Let’s hope the Cowboys try something really crazy this week: concentrate on Tampa Bay. May I advise the Cowboys to not have a flying circus all week long and then forget about Sunday again? That other approach isn’t working for them right now. I feel like the Rams were the last thing on their mind this week, and they played like it.

• Have the Cowboys of 2008 already died? If so, that has to qualify as the buzz kill of the year. I expected it to last longer than mid-October. We better hope they show a little resolve here quick.


Andy D. said...

If I had to write a book about this team, it would be "City of Blinding Light." Expectations, talent, commitment to winning, and doing anything necessary is what Jerry has put in front of this team including the coaching staff. They are melting under the pressure and the bright lights. They can't handle it. There are 30 other teams that would beg for the attention, money and commitment that an owner would give to them. Wade Phillips and Brian Stewart, dont let the door hit you in the rear end on the way out or you may mess your britches... The scheming that goes on week after week about strategizing for games in worthless. Wade Phillips is too "ordinary" to run the Dallas Cowboys Football Club. Jerry won't pull the trigger on a coaching move until the season is over. He knows that everyone here is as fragile as a christmas ornament. Any sudden move and this team and its staff is moved to tears. Your only move is to let the season play out. This is not Jerry's fault. The braintrust behind the scenes is broken and about the weather away... By the way, props to Big Mac. Brad Johnson is old and tired, just like he said...

The Rice Man said...

Where is the Big Giant Enormous Tuna when you need him. HAIL TO THE REDKSKINS

Van Deusen said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Bob. Especially your point about Jason Garrett. How could anyone honestly take the most talented offensive team in football, and make them look like the Mean Green? It's very dissapointing. You can't honestly tell me there is no way to get TO open, or make holes for MB3 to run through? Their offense is so predictable. Your numbers on their formations back that up. You know what they are going to do before they do it, and that's just me watching the games. If I'm the opponent doing game planning, and studying film, you know they have to know every move Dallas will make before they make it. I'm so sad about my Cowboys right now.

The Pants Down Explainer said...

Fire wade and Stewart now. Bring in Capers. Promote Garret. All because you have to.

There is no benefit to waiting until the off week or even the off season.

You have to try something to get to 10 wins, and thus the playoffs. Status quo is nothing but imminent failue.

Crisatunity said...

Great post Bob. I spit out the beer from my mouth when I heard the announcer innocuously declare "Bradie James has been replaced by Bobby Carpenter". As Rhyner would note, *that* was the catastrophic moment of the Cowboys 2008 season.

MK said...

Wade hasn't lost his job but after yesterday's performance he has lost his team. And since Garrett is clearly not ready, now you have the scariest of situations: Jerry will now be coaching this team through Wade. And despite what Jerry may think, he doesn't have the knowledge to coach in the NFL.

And that storm gathering on the horizon? It's TO getting ready to blow. Winning and not getting his numbers is one thing to TO but losing and not getting his is a recipe for disaster.

Bitterwhiteguy said...

I guess this means Sturm has to reinstate his playoff win clock, huh?

Josh said...

The saddest comment after the game came from former Lions WR Roy Williams:

"I'm used to this. ... Really nothing new to me," said Williams to Brad Sham after the loss.

Is that was this team is becoming? The Lions?

SpoonerStreet said...

Bob or anyone-I don't have the ability to go back and watch the game, but can anyone tell me what kind of routes the WR were running yesterday? My very limited recollection seems like every WR ran down 15-20 yards and ran an in, and Witten ran 2 yards short of the first down on every pass play. Why don't we run some possession type routes more often? Or do we, and I just miss it?

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Bill said...

Jerry will not wait for the season to end, esp. with the firings in Oakland and S.F. setting precedent. He's had Garrett waiting for some time, so I predict if the Cowboys lose the next game, Phillips is gone. And stay away from Cowher. We'll need him in Philly when the Andy Reid era ends ... possibly soon.

Bill said...

One more thing... I can see Jerry making the move now because he doesn't want to move into the new stadium with so much chaos. And I don't think he wants the Texas Stadium legacy to end that way. I'd think he'd want the transition now so that things can get stabilized and they can have momentum going into next year.

Richard said...

what happened to your running timer since cowboys last won a playoff game?