The Dallas Cowboys fell back to earth yesterday, losing at home to the New Orleans Saints, but there is still no quit in these guys. In the third overtime game – at home – this year, the Cowboys were just testing fate anyway. One of these games was bound to go the other way.
Fourth quarter comebacks are exciting and cool, when your team is the one coming back, but the underlying truth about them is that your team fell behind to begin with. The Cowboys fell behind. The Cowboys fall behind a lot. A lot is too many, and speaks volumes about where the team is as a whole.
Perseverance, heart and refusing to give up are things that have been missing from these Cowboys for a long time. Not anymore. These Dallas Cowboys have morphed into fighters and I, for one, couldn’t be more proud of that aspect of my team. See, I still haven’t completely gotten over (or forgiven the players for) that November 7, 2010 game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Cowboys got blown out 45 -7, but that wasn’t the worst thing.
The entire team, with the lone exception of, maybe, NT Jay Ratliff and Jason Witten, gave up – the stench of ‘quit’ was palpable. The TV shots of Ratliff, his jersey stained with dirt and grass, tears running down his face, looking around in disbelief juxtaposed with shots of QB Tony Romo, arm in a sling, joking and smiling on the sideline made me sick. Of course Wade Phillips, Cowboys head coach at the time, was fired the same night. If owner, Jerry Jones only felt a tenth of my disgust, he had no other option.
I’ve had a hard time trusting the heart of these Cowboys since.
Jason Garrett was the Cowboys offensive coordinator and was on the field that night. He witnessed the ‘quit’ and the lack of heart first hand. I’ve been leery of him because of that. It didn’t help that every time since, after a loss, he spoke about the ‘process’ and improvement in ‘all three phases’ with so little emotion that he sapped the passion right out of the room. That was until a few weeks ago.
Turns out Jason Garrett’s stoicism was just a byproduct of his inner strength. Strength he used to guide his Cowboys through tragedy. Allowing emotion, channeling it, to bring the team together. Jason could no longer hold the emotion inside himself either, letting Cowboys Nation see another side of the boring head coach. I like the new Garrett. He actually used the word ‘ass’, as in “they played their ass off” (or something like that) in his post game press conference yesterday.
These Cowboys don’t quit and their coach uses the word ‘ass’; I’m beginning to trust that this is not the same Cowboys team from that night in Green Bay. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that this team is… well… what it is:
Inconsistent, underachieving (or over achieving, depending on your perspective), hot and cold, undisciplined, talented, pedestrian, mistake prone, predictable, and almost anything else you can think of. These Cowboys can hang with any team, but have yet to dominate anyone. They can rise or sink to the level of their competition. I can’t tell if we are truly talented but poorly coached or the other way around. Are we coached average or do we play average?
If these Cowboys are all those things, then, in-spite of the fight and heart they clearly now possess, do any of us think the Cowboys are good enough to make it to the Superbowl?
Some of you might think so, but to me, the answer to that last question is – no, not yet. But at the same time, the Cowboys aren’t thinking about if they are good enough to go to the SuperBowl. They are only thinking about being great today. The only game they’re thinking about winning, is the next one against the Washington Redskins. This is how Jason Garrett wants it, how he coaches his Cowboys. It seems the team has rallied around Garrett and bought into this way of thinking as well.
I haven’t quite bought in yet. I’m taking a page out of Garrett’s book, I’m taking this team one game at a time.
- Artie Cappello
Happy Holidays Everyone!