With Week Two of the 2012 NFL season completed, Dallas Cowboys fans are now in a state of shock. After the surprising road victory against the defending Super Bowl Champions, they came out and laid an egg this past Sunday from the start. After all the talk in the offseason concerning the “window”, and this effort led by Jerry Jones, it looked on Sunday as if the “window” wasn’t even a part of the house. The effort was definitely there for some of the players, but wasn’t for the entire 46 that dressed on game day, and it reared its ugly head in Seattle.
In comparison to the other three major professional sports leagues in this country (MLB, NBA, NHL), the NFL is a different animal altogether. It is the effort you put out each Sunday, and how that effort compares to your opponent. In MLB, if the team gets hot against a pitcher in a particular inning, the team can put up several runs that change the course of the game before the pitcher gets pulled. In the NHL, a team can do significant damage during a power play while they have an advantage of an extra man on the ice. In the NBA, two teams can play even the entire game, but team A can put the “defensive clamps” on team B and go on a run that changes the entire course of the game.
At the 14:57 mark of the 1st quarter the ball left the hands of Felix Jones that became the first turnover of the game on the opening kickoff. The Seahawks were able to score a FG on this possession. At the 10:23 mark of 1st quarter, Dan Connor missed a blocking assignment on the left side of the line. This caused the punt to be blocked, and Seattle picked the ball up and took it to the end zone. They were now up 10-0 after a horrific start by the Cowboys. Lastly, at the 6:22 mark of the first quarter, Tony Romo threw an interception that completed this trifecta of bumbling, and this terrible start was complete.
In the NFL, teams rarely can start a game like that and still end up getting the win. This league is too competitive, and the teams are too evenly matched. Like ESPN’s Chris Berman says, “it’s why they play the games”. I live and work in the Dallas area; I have a good grasp for what the market in general feels concerning the Cowboys. I read the newspaper, I listen to the sports talk radio and the listeners that call in, I watch all the local Cowboys coverage, and I also follow the national coverage of the team as well. Most of these outlets had the Cowboys winning this game without any issues.
Many fans had the Cowboys in the Super Bowl already after week one. Most of the coverage I had seen leading up to game had the Cowboys coming out of Week 2 victorious. They were three to four point favorites it Las Vegas. All of the people I spoke with already chalked this up as a victory. My close friends, coworkers, and even random folks who would make comments to me while I’m wearing Cowboy gear around the DFW area. Not one person could tell me they were worried about Week 2. I had touched on this exact premise in my prior article. Each week in the NFL is a different animal, and it must be treated as such. Teams can’t just “show up” and earn the victory.
There has been a huge clamor this week to cut Felix Jones. I have a few thoughts on this topic. First, if Jimmy Johnson was still the coach of this team, you could bet your last dollar that Jones would be on the street today. Second, Jason Garrett may also want make this personnel move as well. Jerry Jones, however, does not want this move to occur, so it won’t take place at this time. The Cowboys used the 22nd pick overall in the 2008 draft on Jones, who played at Arkansas, Jerry Jones alma mater. They passed over players such as Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, and Ray Rice to pick Jones 22nd overall.
On the Cowboys 4th possession, Jason Witten took a huge hit at the 3:12 mark of the first quarter on a big third down conversion play. He never seemed to be “Jason Witten” the rest of the game. Dez Bryant took a big hit from Earl Thomas on a third down conversion play where he dropped the ball. The Seahawks laid two separate, tone setting blocks on the Cowboys best two defensive players, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee. The Seahawks were the much more physical team on Sunday, and it showed in all three phases.
After losing in Week 1 to Arizona, the Seahawks just wanted this game more. They played with the intensity and the desire, and got the job done. In basic terms, the Seahawks didn’t want to go to 0-2 much more than the Cowboys wanted to be 2-0. The Cowboys played like they had a cushion and without a sense of urgency, and ended up paying for it huge loss on the road. Had the Cowboys got off to a 2-0 start, the path could have been clear for the team. As I mentioned in my prior article, the Cowboys need to focus on getting ten wins, however and whenever they may come.
This Sunday the Cowboys have their home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Again, they will be favored, and are the more talented team. I will be attendance and ready to go. Let’s hope we can say the same for the Cowboys.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH