The dust has settled and the tears have dried in Cowboys Nation over the failure to come up with a victory in their win-and-your-end game with the Eagles. As I watched other folks’ favorite teams in wildcard weekend match ups, I couldn’t help but think about the could haves, should haves and would haves that sent our beloved ‘Boys into an extended winter vacation….again.
For anyone who tuned in to the Philadelphia vs New Orleans game on Saturday, the could have is pretty obvious. Dallas could have had a much better defense had the Jones Boys not chosen to make a scapegoat out of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. I’ll admit that when the powers that be in Big D decided to bring Ryan…who I referred to as “son of Buddy” into the fold at The Ranch it seemed like a strange move given his daddy’s history with the franchise…bounty bowl ring any bells? However, Ryan’s short tenure in Dallas was hampered by a string of injuries, which, I might add, is the major excuse that is being bantered about as the reason Monte Kiffin hasn’t been given his walking papers. Under Ryan’s system, the New Orleans Saints are a top ten defense in just about every category while Dallas is bringing up the rear. This year’s Cowboys defense broke the record for most yards allowed in franchise history and a few weeks later, bested even that. Injuries aside, there is no excuse for the lousy performance of the Cowboys defense under Kiffin’s charge, yet, at this writing, he still holds the reins.
As for the should have in the equation, we have to look no further down the sidelines than Jason Garrett. The Cowboys should have cut ties with their carrot-topped coach after the time management and play calling issues in 2012. Given the revolving door at the head coaching position that the Cowboys have seen of late, I could kind of see where Mr. Jones was coming from in giving the former QB backup one more shot at turning the Cowboys around. When the 2013 campaign saw a rehashing of the same old problems persisting, I had hoped that a change was in order. Surely, I thought, all the talk about job security was just a forestalling to see how the Cowboys season came out…apparently that is not the case. The similarities between the 2012 and 2013 seasons are eerily similar…and I’m not talking about just the loser go home finale, or the 8-8 finish. Just like in 2012, the inability to manage the clock properly at the end of games cost the Cowboys dearly. This was especially true in the Detroit and Green Bay contests. Sadder still is the fact that if Dallas had managed a win in either of those games they would have had the division wrapped up before they even took the field against Philly on closing night.
Lastly, it is worth noting that Dallas would have had a much better chance to circle the wagons in end-of-game situations if they had a leader to light a fire under their rear ends. We have to go all the way back to the glory days of the 90s to find a time when the Cowboys had a take charge presence either in the locker room or wearing a headset. Not to say that Dallas doesn’t have formidable competitors on both sides of the ball…aka Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware. However the Cowboys need someone…be it player or coach…who can rally the troops in critical situations in a way we haven’t seen in many a season.
Once again the Cowboys Faithful are facing an off-season with more questions than answers. Sadly, so far those questions don’t involve the coaching staff.