Monday, November 12, 2012

What to make of the Dallas Cowboys win over the Eagles

I'm not quite sure if that was the Chicago Bears or the Dallas Cowboys.  Are you kidding me?  Not one, but two defensive touchdowns?  A Special Teams touchdown?  You mean to tell me that a side of the ball other than the offense managed to put up three touchdowns in the final quarter of a game?  I'd be willing to bet that that has rarely, RARELY happened in Dallas Cowboys history.

Boy does it feel good for the balls to bounce in the Cowboys favor every once in the while.  It only took nine freaking games for the Cowboys to manage a defensive touchdown, and they did it twice in the same game.  I've always felt like my Cowboys just weren't good enough to beat the best teams in the NFL in the last decade or so, but at the same time I felt like they rarely got the breaks as well. 

Yesterday was shaping up as yet another game where they would lose.  A breakdown in coverage saw them trail 14-10 with momentum being heavily in Philly's favor.  They were seemingly making mistakes at the worst times with numerous penalties on 3rd down resulting in 1st downs as Nick Foles was gaining more and more confidence with each drawback.  This had the makings of another one of those close ball games that the Cowboys would lose.

Knowing the season was on the line, Romo did what he always does and doesn't get enough credit for, he kept the Cowboys close and tied the ball game 17-17 with arguably his three best plays of the season.  Dodging a convoy of would be tacklers to convert a pivotal 3rd down was just the beginning.  Then he would cap off the drive with a beautiful throw to Dez Bryant to tie the game.  Whether or not you think it was a catch is up to you.  This is nothing new for Romo.  I criticize Romo a lot, but I do believe he comes through more often than the pundits say he does.  The problem has always been he doesn't get the help necessary needed to finish the game.

That wouldn't be the case yesterday.  After tying the game, Romo wouldn't get the ball back until they were up two scores.  You can count on your finger the number of times Romo had a 14 point lead in the 4th quarter of a game when the last time he had possession, the game was tied.  What transpired in the 4th quarter of yesterday's game was just odd indeed.  I'm sure Cowboy fans were in shock with the way things played out.  We haven't seen anything like that in a long time

But what should we all make of this performance?  Was it just a mirage?  Was it more illustration of a sign of things to come for the Cowboys or does it highlight the serious problems in Philadelphia?  I didn't have the Cowboys winning yesterday and I'm glad to say I was wrong, but what should we really take away from this win?  The Cowboys far exceeded themselves in that 4th quarter.  In a game that looked like it was coming down to the wire, the defense and Special Teams made some big plays to help mask another anemic offensive performance.

The Cowboys D frankly has just been too good to be so unlucky for this long.  They were due for a game like that.  You have to also keep in mind Anthony Spencer had an interception negated by a penalty by Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick dropped two interceptions in which one of them could have went to the house. 

Imagine that, the Cowboys D played aggressive and forced some turnovers and could have easily forced even more than the two they did if not for penalties and drops.  You could see that Rob Ryan's D became a lot more aggressive when Nick Foles entered the game.  It makes you wonder why they haven't always been this aggressive throughout the season.  You see, the Cowboys just haven't been a Jason Garrett problem, it's been a Rob Ryan problem too. This hasn't just been about Romo, Dez, or Garrett.  This is an organizational problem. 

Do I think the Cowboys will pull it off and make a big push towards the playoffs this year and maybe even win the division?  Absolutely not.  Do I think they are capable?  Of course, but things have to go their way.  They need a lot of what happened in the 4th quarter yesterday to beat the likes of Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and even Cincinnati.  Shoot, Washington(2x), Cleveland, and Philly(again) at home won't be a picnic by any means.

Let's face it, this offense is still putrid.  They are horrible at converting 3rd downs, horrible in the redzone, and they don't make enough big plays down the field.  Maybe DeMarco Murray can come back and assuage the situation, but this team still has a lot of issues.  Safety play is still a concern, turnovers are just too hard to come by, MoClaibo will have his bumps in the road, and they still don't have Sean Lee.  Asking the Cowboys to win 10 games is a tall tall order.  Especially for a team that isn't that deep in the first place. 

Enough of this talented crap I keep hearing from the media.  Yes, they may have a talented starting 22, but this sport is all about all three phases and all 53 men.  When someone says to me that the Cowboys underachieve, I honestly don't believe that individual has any clue about this sport.  The best 53-man rosters win Super Bowls.  22 people have never won a SB in this sport.  The Cowboys don't have one of the best 53-man roster in the L and that's why they aren't a Super Bowl contender.

Despite yesterday's win, my opinion hasn't changed of the Cowboys.  Just for once they got some breaks and capitalized, but doesn't mean their season has been turned around.  Yesterday wasn't the team I've come to know for many many years.  That was a different football team that made plays in all phases and didn't beat themselves with stupid turnovers.  I suspect the real Cowboys will show up sooner rather than later.  I still believe they lack the necessary talent and depth to make a playoff push.  I still believe the in-game adjustments from the coaching staff are a huge problem.  I still believe they are far too penalty-prone as they showed even in the win yesterday.  I still believe Romo will make critical mistakes and won't do enough to overcome this team's flaws.  I still believe this pass rush is slightly above-average and the defense as a whole is soft.  I believe the inevitable was only delayed a few weeks.  This is the New York Giants' division to lose.

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