That is going to leave a bad taste in your mouth about Dallas Cowboys Football. I realize that hope shall spring eternal, and right about the time training camp rolls around (I was going to say the draft and then I remembered that the 1st round pick is in Detroit for that receiver that broke out yesterday for 2 catches and 4 yards) you will attempt to locate that jersey that you tore off yesterday during the Cowboys trouncing at the hands of the hated Eagles, but wow.
It would seem that breaking down the various elements of yesterday’s game instead of focusing on the far bigger picture would be a bit like pointing out a few weeds in the sidewalk of a house that just burned down, so I think we should attempt to do both here this morning.
First, the big picture. I am reminded of a quote from the Rams game, when Moose was calling the game on TV, he began to suggest to us that the Cowboys mix was not to his liking:
”Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it” – Daryl Johnston, On Fox, October 20, 2008, Dallas versus St Louis.
I certainly don’t want to be the old man here, especially if the “young man” needing the lecture is Jerry Jones, but what kind of team has been built? What kind of selfish, narcissistic, ego maniacs have you assembled here? This season has revealed so much. It has shown that when adversity hits, this team reveals its character. And while a large portion of the team may have the “good” kind of character, there is a faction that certainly seems to lack it. That faction affects everything. It undermines leadership, it teaches the kids how to conduct themselves, and when things go poorly, they are the first to turn knives on the team. As they say, this team is not a team of character. It is a team of characters.
So, now you combine a team of characters – many who have already been promised their money - with a coaching staff that seems to command almost no respect from those that would undermine them, and you have what you have right now…a pile of rubble.
What do you do with this underachieving crew that seemed to shrink to the occasion for the better part of the entire year? Jerry Jones has already said he plans to do nothing to his head coach, Wade Phillips. What folly that seems. The statistic Fox offered yesterday says plenty about this entire crew: The Wade Phillips Cowboys started 12-1, since then, they are 10-10. For anyone who thinks that Bill Parcells had this team set up to dominate, and then Wade and Jerry have allowed this thing to erode back into a mess, that statistic will make your case pretty well.
I think a new coach is very necessary. I also think that Jason Garrett is not who I would hire. I might entertain the idea of Garrett staying at coordinator, but I would surely not promote him after this mess. I think the days of not considering elements of team building when assembling a roster needs to stop. From now on, if they are a head ache, they don’t play here. If they require special rules, they don’t play here. If I have to hire a special security detail to babysit them, they don’t play here. If Ed Werder makes a full time living reporting on what my diva WR says everyday, then my WR doesn’t play here.
But, I know that expecting Jerry Jones to stop being Jerry Jones is an exercise of complete stupidity. So, with a new stadium ready to open, we can only hope that the man has learned a lesson. Fat chance.
Anyway, since we did all suffer through 44-6, let’s at least look at a few moments of the last chapter of a very bad book:
• Tony Romo is a mess right now. I hardly recognize the guy who I have bought stock in. His grasp of where to go with the football is completely screwed up right now, and his decisive ability to make reads and throws seems long gone. I think this off-season will be an interesting one, because for the first time in his life, he is going to have a lot of doubt. He is going to begin to question how good he is going to be, and how badly he wants it. His stock is way, way down, and his own organization is going to begin to question whether he is the man. I caution everyone against declaring a player of his quality and age a complete failure (see: Manning, Peyton), but at the end of the proverbial day, it is not very important what you or I think about this situation. It is important what he thinks. If he spends the off-season trying to convince himself that he has it all figured out, then I will be afraid. But, if he is obsessed with figuring out where it all went wrong and what he needs to get back to doing to make it all make sense again, then I think he will be one of the best QB’s in the league again.
• Speaking of Romo and Garrett, for an offense that was not nearly affected by injuries in December like the defense was, is there a chance we can figure out the confusion before next season? You know, the WR and the TE and the QB looking like they are not on the same page? How many times in the last few weeks have they looked like they had never played together? How many years before Roy Williams looks like he knows what plays are being called? And why am I already tiring of his routine this early in the game? Bad routes, drops, body language, and at times looking like he is just out there running around. Some franchise Wide Receiver.
• If the Eagles are dumb enough to let Brian Dawkins get away, I would send a jet to go pick him up immediately. I know he is just a shadow of what he once was – he once was the best safety in football – but if there is a guy who understands the position, it is that guy, the heart and soul of the Eagles defense for all of these years. His blitzing again yesterday was superb, and his sure tackling is something the Cowboys defense has lacked. Roy Williams may have faults, but when Williams, Patrick Watkins, Keith Davis, and friends are all hurt, we see the big plays multiply. Safety appears to once again be a sizeable hole in the defense. And Ken Hamlin may be paid like a great safety, but I am not sure he is much better than average.
• Bradie James is one of the positives of this season. Wade has really figured out how to best utilize him through blitzing. But, there is still that issue of covering receivers, and opposing QB’s still look for 56 on defense in the red zone to isolate a back or TE. Easy money.
• Did you know the Eagles only had 5 more yards than the Cowboys? When you see a drive chart that has 5 consecutive drives that end with: “Interception, Fumble, Fumble, Fumble, Fumble” then odds are good that total yards will not matter.
• Did Tony Romo pull Wade’s pants down when he waved the punt team back to the sideline? Is that a reasonable enough sign that your coach lacks respect? I guess I must be forgetting all of the times Parcells was waved off.
• If Pac Man Jones ever plays another second in Dallas, I will be disappointed. Dumb players make dumb plays. We saw about a dozen this season – in 9 games.
• Nick Folk kicks field goals very, very well. He does not kick off very well. No touchbacks, and then he kicks the ball out of bounds, too? It might be time for the designated KO specialist.
• By the way, if Bruce Read is coaching special teams next year, I will be disappointed.
• Plays of the game: The 59 yards catch and run by Correll Buckhalter on 3rd and 8, and then 3rd and 9 pass to DeSean Jackson for 34 yards. Both plays put the Eagles inside the Cowboys 10, and ready for a Touchdown. And both plays featured Terrence Newman coming up empty.
• I roll my eyes when I hear the December records brought up, but there is no running from that reality anymore. This team cannot close the deal. They cannot rise to the occasion. And when their backs were against the wall the last two weeks, all units of the team failed miserably. Jerry Jones must consider any and all alternatives after the way 2008 ended. The message must be sent loud and clear that this is unacceptable. But, will that message be sent?
• And so it ends, one of the most disappointing Cowboys seasons ever. For some reason, it might take several months for many of us to work up a renewed enthusiasm for this thing. Here is a vote for change if there will be hope.