By week 11 heading into the Dallas Cowboys’ bye week, we all thought this team would finally be putting it all together and setting the stage for a final run at an NFC East crown and an all elusive spot in the post season. After an embarrasing loss in New Orleans Sunday night, they are limping (literally) in with the ever present .500 record that our average coach Jason Garrett seems unable to escape. This team is dangerously close to falling completely apart instead of getting healthy over the bye week. We’ve been here before.
Last year, the Cowboys were blown out and embarrassed on Monday Night Football by the Chicago Bears heading into their week 5 bye. The loss dropped them to 2-2 and left many more questions than answers. Romo was intercepted 5 times in this game. He didn’t throw an interception against the Saints but he only completed an anemic 10 of 24 attempts for a pedestrian 128 yards passing. Ironically, like Sunday night, the Bears game was close in the early going. Chicago only held a 10-7 lead at halftime. Sunday night, it was the Cowboys who led 10-7 early on before watching Drew Brees light them up for 3 straight touchdown drives in the last 8:56 of the first half. Not so ironically, Sean Lee was injured with a little over 14 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. His departure brought on a complete defensive collapse.
Now we’re told Lee will be out for 3-4 weeks. If anyone doubted his importance to this team, it was showcased for everyone after he left the game Sunday night. This is not the same team without his leadership and playmaking ability. Fortunately, one of those weeks will be the bye week, so Lee will miss the critical division game against the Giants, the Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders, and likely the Monday night repeat against the Bears. In Chicago. In December. Ouch.
Not looking good sports fans! This team is literally playing defense with guys they picked up from the want ads. It’s the opponents “1″s against the backups of our backups.
Last year, this team came out of the bye with a renewed determination – and proceeded to lose 4 of their next 5 games. They won 5 of the 6 games after that to make a run at the division before coming up short in the final two games once again. This year with a late bye, they won’t have the luxury of catching fire late – although 10 games in, they were ironically 5-5 last year too. This team just can’t escape its own mediocrity. Ever.
If I were Jason Garrett, I would start looking around at potential Offensive Coordinator openings. The way this team is playing, the injuries they’ve experienced, and the brutal schedule that lies ahead, I don’t see how they could possibly finish any better than 8-8. A 7-9 record seems more likely with Lee missing significant time and Ware looking like a shadow of himself. Jerry’s firing finger is already itching despite all his assurances that he’s 100% behind Garrett. Maybe he’ll fire the DC again instead since the Kiffin experiment seems to have been a disaster for the Cowboys – but not for our opponents who keep breaking all kinds of NFL records for offensive production.
Sunday night, I did something I haven’t done in 20 years: I shut the TV off at halftime and walked away. I’ve seen this show before. Unfortunately, we all have and it seems to be on an endless loop. Go Cow…oh never mind. See you next year!