Here we go again…Deja vu…One more time with feeling…Fill in the blank with which ever cliché you want, but the message is clear. The Cowboys are showing symptoms of the same old ailments that have plagued them for the past few seasons.
First on the list has to be the running game…or lack thereof. In the season opening win over the New York Giants the issue wasn’t as obvious because of the six turnovers that the G-Men gifted Dallas’ defense with. However, the debacle in the backfield that ensued in Arrowhead can not be ignored. The Cowboys have a talented running back in DeMarco Murray. Until Dallas fixes its lousy run blocking, though, it isnt’ going to matter whether Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders or Jim Brown is in the backfield. The result will be the same. The revolving door at running back started with Julius Jones and has continued through Marion Barber, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones. All are quality backs and all served their time as resident scapegoats for an offensive line that can’t figure out how to open a running lane. Maybe it would have been a good idea to bring in a fullback to help in run blocking situations instead of accumulating a massive stable of tight ends who don’t seem to be very productive in that area.
Time management is another issue that reared its ugly head on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City. Down by just one point with over three minutes left on the clock, the Cowboys started burning timeouts immediately after Kansas City took control of the football. As a result, when Dallas finally stopped the Chiefs and forced a punt, Kansas City was able to run the clock down to less than 30 seconds before kicking to the Cowboys. What followed was down right weird. Haven’t the Cowboys coaching staff ever seen the Hail Mary? Why would you try a dump pass in the middle of the field with no timeouts and a precious few seconds left to get in field goal range?
Accumulating field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone is another problem that the Cowboys dealt with on Sunday. This one has to be put on the shoulders of the playcaller. Why on earth would you throw a sideways pass on third down inside the 10-yard line? This becomes even more of a headscratcher considering Dez Bryant appeared to be open in the end zone. The inability to cross the goal line is great for Dan Bailey’s stats, but it doesn’t do much to improve the Cowboys winning percentage.
The play of Dez Bryant continues to be inconsistent. Just like many instances in 2012, he lit up the stat sheet early on Sunday, only to disappear in the second half. Most perplexing was a pass he dropped in the later stages of the game that had the potential to be a score and certainly would have provided Dallas with a much-needed first down. After hauling in impossible looking catches in the first half Dez was so butter fingered that I thought he must have been munching on popcorn at halftime. If the Cowboys are going to continue to rely on the pass so heavily, their big time receivers have got to produce in crunch time.
The best news Sunday came from the Cowboys’ NFC East opponents who all had week two losses. With the St. Louis Rams coming to town on Sunday, here’s hoping that DeMarco Murray can recapture some of the magic he had on his record-breaking romp against the Rams when they came to Jerry’s World the last time.