After a brutal end to the 2012 season that saw the Cowboys come up short in a season ending “win or go home” division contest for the second consecutive season, most fans thought this season would be different. It couldn’t possibly get worse, right? Wrong.
The Cowboys didn’t play this last week but still somehow managed to fall out of first place in the NFC East for the first time this season. We actually managed to “lose” on our bye week as both the Giants and the Eagles picked up wins. Even the ever optimistic, excuse-filled Jerry Jones is starting to come down to earth admitting in a rare weak moment that it might have been a mistake to fire DC Rob Ryan.
So what is the biggest issue facing the under achieving Cowboys? Pick one.
Injuries? No doubt the loss of Sean Lee is huge – a bigger loss for the defense than losing Romo would be for the offense. We have backup linebackers – a rookie is likely to start Sunday – but like plugging Orton in for Romo, it is a huge dropoff in talent. Add to that the Ratliff saga, the loss of Anthony Spencer shortly after the ink was dry on his $11 million, 2nd year franchise tag, a n0-name defensive line, and key injuries at both safety and cornerback, and you certainly could argue that is the issue.
Play calling? A lot was made of the switch of the in-game play calling duties to Bill Callahan this season. He was going to finally bring some balance and creativity to this talented, but under performing offense. Wow, has that one not worked out! This offense has no identity, no rhythm, no balance, and just seems unable to do much of anything but produce quick, 3-and-out drives that put an already weak defense back on the field.
I would say these reasons and many others all contribute to the problem – but right now the biggest issue for the Cowboys is Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone. What? That’s right. Rodgers getting hurt was a big blow to the Green Bay Packers. But, it has proven to be almost as big a factor for the Dallas Cowboys. Why? The Cowboys has a lead in the NFC East over both the Giants and the Eagles with both teams still having to face the mighty Green Bay Packers. With Rodgers in the lineup, both of those games – the Eagles in Lambeau and the Giants in New Jersey would have very likely been losses. Instead, facing the ominous talents of Seneca Wallace and rookie Scott Tolzien, the Eagles and Giants picked up wins that closed the gap on the Cowboys – who couldn’t take care of their own business.
What’s worse is Rodgers and his healthy collarbone are expected back for the December 15th game in AT&T Stadium. Of course they are! That makes that game a much tougher prospect than the one either Philadelphia or the Giants faced. Green Bay is on every NFC East team’s schedule this season, but the Cowboys are going to face a much tougher opponent likely to still be fighting for their playoff lives.
I’m starting to feel like the Red Sox when they believed in the “curse of the Bambino”. Are we sure AT&T Stadium isn’t built on an old burial ground or something? This team is playing like its cursed. Six games to go Cowboys – is this the start of something special or the beginning of the end of another season. It starts Sunday in New Jersey. A win over the resurgent Giants would speak volumes. Another weak performance and a loss and it will tell us all we need to know about the 2013 Dallas Cowboys. Should we sew garlic into our jersey’s or something? It’s only weird if it doesn’t work right? Go Cowboys!