Here we go, folks. Week 4. Quarter of the way through the season. Football season moves rather quickly, huh?
Despite my arguments to the contrary, the Cowboys have failed to prove this year is different. They are sitting at 2-1 after scraping out a win against the Giants, losing a heart breaker to the Walrus, and then dominating the Rams last Sunday.
This is the same position they were in the past two years. Two and one, trying to go three and one. Each time they have failed. Will they stop the trend?
I believe so. This is a must win game for a team who is trying to change their identity. The Cowboys want to seize opportunities, and this one is prime for the taking. A Jason Garrett team should be one that, when allowed to take the division lead, does so with gusto.
The Cowboys are staring at their best chance in years to lock up a notoriously competitive division. The Eagles are their closest competitor at 1-2 with a good chance of going 1-3 since they’re about to run into the juggernaut that is Denver. You know the issues the Giants and Potomac Indigenous Persons are going through. It’s the perfect storm for the Cowboys. Standing in their way is the team from So-Cal.
I find it fitting Dallas will be playing the Chargers. I don’t watch a ton of San Diego games, but over the past decade they seem to be the closest approximate the AFC has to Dallas. Exceptional talent spoiled by poor execution is the best way to sum it up. Always in contention, never able to get over the hump.
They cleaned house after last season, much like the Cowboys did two years ago, but are still struggling with an inability to close out games. They’ve been in contention during all three this year, but have found a way to lose twice.
Nonetheless, they are still dangerous. The modern day NFL is about throwing the football and Phillip Rivers is one of the best in the game. As long as he’s behind the line the Cowboys will be in for a tough afternoon. It’s the same edge Romo gives to Dallas.
The quarterback similarities go further than that. Consistently regarded as mediocre, Romo and Rivers rank numbers 5 and 6, respectively, on the all time QB passer rating list. I believe both will go down in history far more respected than they are now. But that is a conversation for another day.
What I want to get at is this: I see the Chargers today as the Cowboys of two years ago. A team at the beginning of their transition to contender, still trying to put their demons behind them. That is why today’s game is so important. Beyond the divisional implications, this game offers the Cowboys an opportunity to beat an opponent that has been one of their biggest rivals since the end of the dynasty: themselves.
Sure, the Chargers aren’t wearing the Star on their helmet, but if you are going to pick a “mirror image” team for the Cowboys to beat…who else would you choose?
If the Cowboys can win today they will be beating the team they used to be, literally and figuratively.
Literally, the Cowboys would be overcoming one of the biggest problems they’ve had in recent years: closing the deal. With the rest of the NFC East reeling, this game is a must-win if they want to be taken seriously as a Competitor. The best teams shut the door on their opponents when given the chance. Quite simply, Dallas hasn’t done that. A win today would bring them one step closer towards establishing that quality.
Figuratively, the Cowboys will be battling a version of themselves they are trying to put behind. I believe new coach Mike McCoy will turn things around in San Diego, but as we’ve learned with Garrett, there will be growing pains. The Cowboys have a two year head start on their (sort-of) twins. There are no excuses this game.
They need to prove they aren’t the same type of team, by beating the type of team they used to be.