I try not to write any articles immediately after a Cowboys loss. It’s very hard to separate the emotions from the facts. But, I’m making an exception this time.
I was pretty sure this Cowboy team would have a difficult time in this game. I knew there was a very good possibility that they would come out of Detroit with a loss. The Lions on paper so far this season were very well matched to Dallas and any road game in the NFL seems to be a tough out for most teams. What I never saw coming was the way it would unfold. I knew we were doomed however as soon as the announcers started talking as if Dallas had already won with over a minute left in the game. Clearly, they aren’t that familiar with the recent history of this team or this coaching staff. No lead is safe.
Rarely does this team just lose and get blown out. Part of the reason it is so hard to be a Cowboy fan these days is that they tease you relentlessly. They raise your hopes and then flame out in spectacular fashion. They can’t have the decency to just shoot your hopes in the back of the head – they have to kill them slowly and painfully, make them believe they will get out alive, and then shoot them in the back just before heading out the door to freedom. Some would say that it is still better than being a Jaguar fan these days, but I’m not so sure. At least you know each week you’re going to lose and you can start dreaming early in the season what your team will do with that high draft pick. No pesky worries about the post season. Like the last two seasons, the Cowboys drag it out before failing. In the end, our off season is just like the Jag’s – except we typically get to wonder what embarrassing move Jerry Jones will make with a draft pick in the middle of the first round usually, unless he’s already traded it away for a backup punter.
So, who can we blame for this latest embarrassment? It’s a long list and there will be plenty of opinions. Here are my thoughts:
1. Dez Bryant – many will point at Dez’s eruption on the sidelines when he was seen getting in shouting matches with coaches, uniformed players, and even injured players as DeMarcus Ware had to physically restrain him and get between him and Jason Witten at one point. Don’t get me wrong. That kind of behavior is disruptive and not what you would prefer. But, looking at what the Cowboys game plan was and how much Dez was able to produce when they actually threw him the ball, his frustration is certainly understandable. His 50-yard catch and run with 7 minutes left in the game extending Dallas’ lead to 10 points again was nothing short of brilliant as was his circus catch for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter.
Dez needs to show more maturity than that without question. But, let’s not let that distract from what should be the real focus – what was that game plan all about? Whether it is Callahan, Garrett, or Jerry Jones, someone decided to feature rookie Terrance Williams and use Dez largely as a decoy. That’s not a completely awful idea if it works, but it was obvious to everyone – except the Dallas coaching staff – very early in the game that it wasn’t working. Apparently, there is still some doubt that Dez can take over a game the way Calvin Johnson can. Megatron doesn’t sneak up on too many teams, but the Lions continue to throw him the ball despite constant double coverage and despite an occasional fumble. And, boy does he produce – like 329 yards receiving on Sunday. For the record, that is over 120 yards more than Romo had passing.
At least Dez cares and that is a lot more than I can say about some other Dallas players who seem to take plays off. While he needs to tone it down, the Cowboys could benefit from a little more “give a crap”. Don’t blame Dez.