These Dallas Cowboys seem to have a split personality. It doesn’t appear they can decide whether they’re a team who puts it all together and closes out a game in the fourth quarter, or blows a lead and loses in dramatic fashion. In five games this season, the Cowboys were able to make the stops when it counted and put the game away…against the 49ers, Redskins twice, Miami, and these Bucs. Likewise, in five games the Boys have blown leads and failed to close the game out…against the Jets, Lions, Patriots, Cardinals, and Giants. For their playoff hopes, the Cowboys need to exorcise their Dr. Jekyll demon and embrace their inner Mr. Hyde.
On Saturday night, they dominated for much of the game, and when it came time to close the game out, the defense made the stops that were needed. Granted, it was against the now 4-10 Buccaneers, who look like they’re ready to put this season behind them as quickly as possible, but at least it was a positive step forward. Hopefully, this is a game the Cowboys can build on going forward.
Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan said last week he would simplify the defense and use hand signals to fix the communication errors that has plagued this team for most of the season. I wonder why those hand signals were not implemented five or six weeks ago, but better late than never I guess. It seemed to work, as the defense played one of its better games of the year. I didn’t recognize any glaring mistakes, and everyone seemed to be on the same page for the most part. Although, again, it was against the Bucs. Quarterback Josh Freeman did not have one of his better games and failed to recognize on several occasions the open receiver. Some of that blame can go to his porous offensive line as well for failing to give him any time to go through his reads.
Offensively, the Cowboys seem to be getting better each week since Miles Austin’s return. Tony Romo continued his spectacular play since his debacle vs the Lions, and Felix Jones has stepped up to nicely fill in the gap that was created in the running game when DeMarco Murray broke his ankle. This unit seems to be gelling at the right time.
If the Cowboys have any hope of making the playoffs, both the offense and defense are going to have to bring their “A” games when they play the Eagles on Saturday, and next week for the season finale against the Giants. This team controls its own destiny, and it’s up to them to decide how far they want to go this season. They have the talent to be one of the elite teams in the NFL. I truly believe that when they are playing to their potential, they could compete with the likes of New Orleans and Green Bay. But they have got to quit shooting themselves in the foot, especially on defense.
Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! After the holidays, should the Cowboys take care of business and reach the post-season, I will be bringing back the “Key Plays” and “Who’s Hot/Who’s Not” segments.
Happy Holidays and GO COWBOYS!