On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys will have their field general back for the first time in 7 and a half games. The players, the fans and management are all desperately reaching for the restart button. The organization hit the panic button three weeks ago. Neither the Cowboys, nor their fan base, need a reminder of what life has been like in 2015 without Tony Romo.
The Cowboys needed just two wins in the absence of their Star, Tony Romo. Instead, they have lost seven straight. What has even made it harder on the team and its fan base is the fact that they were in 6 of the 7 games until the final quarter.
The finger pointing had begun as early as week four of the 2015 NFL season. The media blamed Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain’s subsequent 4 game suspensions for the loss of the first two games without Romo and Dez Bryant.
The return of Hardy and McClain added some momentary excitement, but not enough momentum to rustle up a win. Then, the finger of blame pointed to Brandon Weeden, who could not get the job done as Tony’s replacement.
Matt Cassel was brought in to replace a lackluster performance by a quarterback who had all of the first team snaps in the summer and preseason of 2014 and nearly every first string snap in the last two seasons on Wednesdays. Cassel was rusty, but you could see he was a definite improvement over Weeden. However, the team continued to lose, even after Dez returned to the lineup.
Let’s be real for a moment. This losing streak is not just because the team lost its all-time best quarterback. This losing streak lies directly at the hands of the owner and the coaches.
Jerry Jones is at fault for not allowing these coaches to lead this team in a winning direction. He has brought the personnel into town to win games, but have tied the hands of the coaches for years now. Let go of the reins Jerry, you are not a football coach nor are you a judge of talent (i.e. Brandon Weeden throws the sweetest ball ever, statement). Let the coaches do their jobs without your interference.
Jason Garrett is at fault for not leading this team, period. He is too poised and polite on the sidelines. If the team is getting the screws because of bad calls, he needs to show some emotion. If a player is not doing his job, replace him. If a player becomes a problem child who will not follow protocol, replace him. As a former NFL backup quarterback, Garrett should have known since last season, Brandon Weeden was NOT the answer to replace back-up quarterback Kyle Orton. This is the NFL. This is not the arena league. A team needs a back-up quarterback who can come in at a moment’s notice. Quarterbacks are the number one target in the NFL. Failing to acquire or develop a decent backup quarterback was negligent.
Rod Marinelli is at fault for not having his rotation ready to play at the speed of the modern day NFL. All the swearing in training camp has not helped to motivate some of these defensive linemen. His three top pass rushers, DeMarcus Lawrence, Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory have been mostly ineffective the last two games and especially when the game was on the line late in the fourth quarter.
Without Romo, this offensive unit has underperformed. They have demonstrated the ability to run the ball in the first half, then panic sets-in. Too many passes have been thrown to areas short of the first down markers on third down. Too few times, when defenses have had seven to nine guys in the box, who are playing against the run, has the offense managed to take advantage of the man to man coverage. Too many times the offense, as a unit, has just stalled.
The defense has not been the reason for this losing streak despite the fourth quarter let downs. Failing to score 20 points in a game has played a much larger role in this losing streak.
Rolando McClain played his finest game of the season last week. Sean Lee will be back this week and Anthony Hitchens should be moving back to his SAM position. This linebacker corps must play better as a unit and not injure each other.
Rookie Byron Jones has been nothing less than stellar.
This kid is special. I like the idea of having him start at one of the cornerback spots. This young man has stepped up and performed against some of the leagues finest receivers. It is time to let him start at corner every down.
La’el Collins has taken over at left guard and it doesn’t appear that he will relinquish his starting role for a long time to come. While the rookie is still learning, his physical attributes and his gifted size make him a force to have to deal with. Playing in between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith will make him into another of the team’s Stars.
This game against the Dolphins will be a test for this offensive line. Doing their job protecting Romo, while opening up running lanes, will make a difference on Sunday between another loss and a change in the tide.
The question that remains answered until this next game is over is, “Will Tony Romo be too rusty after being on the shelf for 7 weeks, or will he reach deep into his bag of tricks and pull off a miracle in Florida?”
This week the season will restart for the Cowboys. It finds them behind the eight ball and two games in the cellar. This week finds the team with all its starters preparing to visit the Miami Dolphins. There is no more room for excuses. If they don’t start winning with all this talent, it is not on the players, but on management for failing to get them motivated for success.
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