The Dallas Cowboys valiant effort last night behind backup quarterback Kyle Orton ended as so many games have for the Cowboys, with an untimely interception. In this game the Cowboys kept battling back and with the goal in sight within the last two minutes of the game the Cowboys, who only needed a field goal to win, lost the game with an interception by the Eagles on a pass intended for Miles Austin, but thrown behind him.
As I watched this game, I was thinking how smooth the offense looked behind Orton and wondered, if he pulled out the victory, whether there would be a quarterback controversy. That didn’t turn out to be the case though as Orton ended the game with the same kind of mistake that Tony Romo has made to seize defeat from the jaws of victory so many times.
So a year that started with so much promise once again ends with a record of eight wins and eight losses, with the final loss being in a win or go home game, just like the previous two years, all resulting in the Cowboys being the team that goes home. There is not much of a point in diagnosing this loss, this season is over. But I will say the Cowboys played better than most expected them to, but due to mistakes, they fell short once again.
But where do the Cowboys go from here? Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones has stated many times during this season that no matter what the outcome, Jason Garrett is still his head coach. I do believe that to be true and when pressed to justify such a position, Jerry will point to all of the season ending injuries on the defense and the loss of Tony Romo due to his injury last week. I don’t have a problem with Jerry sticking with Garrett, but I do hoped he learned some things this season such as, if you are running the ball well, keep running it and if you have a big lead and a lousy defense, keep running the ball. If they had done that in the Green Bay game there would have been one more victory that could have allowed them to lose to the Eagles and still win the division.
I think it’s great that Romo was more involved in the game plan, but if that means more passing against teams that they can run on, then Romo needs to go back to playing more golf. The bottom line is that we as fans will continue to be disappointed as long as the Cowboys continue on with their pass happy ways. I cannot reiterate enough that if the run is working, KEEP RUNNING! It shortens the game and keeps the opposing offense on the sideline. Although the running back can fumble, in general, there are less chances of mistakes that can hurt you when running as opposed to passing.
Let me take a moment to comment on the Eagles philosophy, they don’t care about time of possession. They may have made it to the playoffs, but I think they are one and out against the New Orleans Saints. And I don’t think their future includes any championships as long as they aren’t concerned with time of possession. It may have worked for head coach Chip Kelly in the college game, but I don’t think it will bear fruit in the NFL.
OK, back to the future, the Cowboys future that is. On offense, expect to see Miles Austin to no longer be part of this team. He is being paid way too much money for the production the Cowboys received from him this year. I also don’t expect injured offensive guard Brian Waters to be back, but I am encouraged that the line played better, even after Waters was put on injured reserve. Other than these two players, I think they stay put with the rest of the players on offense. I expect rookies Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams to be better players next year and I am looking forward to Lance Dunbar returning from injury.
On defense, what can I say, it’s a mess. The Cowboys made two big gambles before this season and neither paid off. The first one was that Rob Ryan was part of the problem with last year’s defensive struggles and had to be let go. I must admit that I was one that thought Ryan’s defense was unnecessarily complex, but maybe his defense would have helped the Cowboys to win one or two more games than they did this year. Surely they would not have finished as the worst defense in the league, as they did. They did improve the turnover ratio, but too many games were lost when no turnovers were forced.
I really think the game has passed Monte Kiffin by and I don’t expect to see him return next year. Best case scenario is the Rod Marinelli stays and moves up to defensive coordinator.
The second gamble on defense was thinking they didn’t need to add any defensive lineman in the draft. How did that work out? Anthony Spencer and Tyrone Crawford spent the season on injured reserve and Jay Ratliff got well all of a sudden after he was cut by Dallas and went on to play for “Da Bears”. DeMarcus Ware played through injuries most of the year and is a shell of the player he used to be. This team needs to get serious about defense and especially the defensive line and draft accordingly next year.
So there you have it, another season come and gone and the Cowboys still unable to break out from mediocrity. Well, there’s always next year, right?