This was one of those games and it appeared to be so right from start, as I thought to myself the Cowboys look like they’re suffering from jet lag. The timing just seemed way off during their first three offensive possessions. In addition, the San Diego Chargers decided to wear their white jerseys forcing Dallas to wear their “jinxed” blue jerseys. Of course we know there is no such thing as a jinx. The main reason the Cowboys have a worse record when wearing them is they never choose to wear them at home, and it’s usually more difficult to win on the road, as was the case yesterday.
But the thing that will nearly always kill a team’s chances to win is rookie mistakes. And that’s what killed the Cowboys chances late in the game when time was running out. Specifically it was rookie receiver Terrance Williams trying to stretch the ball over the goal line after a catch, when he was really too far away for such a move anyway. Would they have won if Williams had executed the play properly? Who knows, but I do know this, William’s mistake greatly lessened the Cowboys chances of winning.
How did the Cowboys end up in this position? Because they played Williams more due to the absence of Miles Austin, who is once again suffering from an injured hamstring that kept him out of the game. I don’t know when we can expect Austin back and there is the possibility that when he does come back he will not be able to play at full speed, as has been the case the last couple of years. Don’t get me wrong, I like Austin as a player and as a person, but your team has to be able to depend on you and his ongoing struggles with hamstring injuries has kept that from being the case for several seasons now.
I am reminded of a column I wrote last spring. I was advocating that the time had come for the Cowboys to move on from Austin. I was castigated by many that read the column and called names I won’t repeat here. But here they are again, without Austin in the lineup and no idea when he will return and how effective he might be once he does return. But, you ask, wouldn’t the Cowboys be in the same position they were in today, or worse, if Austin had been cut? The answer is yes they would be if they were going to depend on a rookie to take Austin’s place.
And that is an area where I depart from what Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan apparently think. Dwayne Harris has proved himself to be a dependable receiver that doesn’t make many mistakes. Harris has been with the team long enough to know his role when called upon to be a receiver and will be where he is supposed to be. I know there were some plays that both Williams and Harris were out there. But, if they used Harris every time that just one of them was needed I can’t say they would have won the game, however I would sure like to have seen how it played out.
But we didn’t see it because the Cowboys are so in love with William’s potential that they are forcing him into action before he is ready. The bottom line is that we saw much less from this offense than we should have expected to see against one of the worst defenses in the league. I will venture to say though that as badly as the offense underperformed versus expectations, the defense was even worse.
How does a team with three backup players on the offensive line limit the amount of sacks and pressures like the Chargers did? That one is pretty easy to answer, they went to passing plays that featured getting the ball out quickly. The mystery to me is how these same backup linemen were able to lead the way for 100 yards running the ball and keep making first down after first down, as they completely controlled the second half of the game.
So here they are, 2-2 again after missing out on the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division. As it now stands they are just one game ahead of Philadelphia and Washington and we have the undefeated Denver Broncos coming to town. Well at least it going to be a home game and the Cowboys are undefeated at AT&T Stadium, so something’s got to give.