QUICK OUT: GIANT PAIN
By Todd Toombs
No preview of the Buccaneers game this week. After Sunday night’s debacle the wounds are still so fresh I can’t bring myself to even think about next week much less what the future holds for the Cowboys. These are dark times for America’s Team. There are those that say, “Keep believing” or “Have Faith” or “They still have a chance to make the playoffs”, but I just don’t have a scintilla of evidence that suggests there is hope for this season.
It’s not just that the Cowboys lost – that happens all too regularly since 1995. It’s the way they lost. Again. It’s the team they lost to – the Giants. The “G-Men” as the Giants fan in my office calls them. We’ll call him “Greg”. It’s unique in that the entire NFC East Division is well represented at my work. I am the Cowboy fan, “Greg” is the Giants fan, “Dick” is the Eagles Fan, and “Earl” is the Redskins fan (not their real names). To say we have some spirited debates would be like saying the Queen Mary is a cute, little boat. Greg, however, is the most outspoken and irrational one in the group as are a majority of typical Giants fans. In addition to the texts he was sending me Sunday night, he could not wait to get to work on Monday grinning like a Cheshire cat to advise me that the “G-Men Dominated the Cowgirls” as if I wasn’t already aware of that. He giggled like a school girl when he blurted out that “Jerry spent 1 trilling (sic) dollars on a new stadium that he can’t beat the Giants in”. FML. Most Cowboy fans probably faced a similar situation on Monday. It’s hard to be a ‘Boys fan these days.
So, instead of giving you some insights on the Buccaneers (who should be outmatched but no guarantees with our defense), let me give you some random thoughts on the state of the Cowboys.
1. The defense is pathetic and I don’t think Rob Ryan has any answers. Let’s all hope he does get a head coaching job so we can start fresh with a new defensive coordinator. Maybe the new one will fit the scheme to his players and not force his defense to look confused and out of place more often than not.
2. Sean Lee is unbelievable! The interception he literally plucked out of the air despite the wrist brace he was wearing and despite being in the middle of getting blocked was a thing of beauty. We may have a lot of problems on defense but he isn’t one of them. He should be headed to the Pro Bowl this year and a lot of years in the future.
3. Terrence Newman is aging quickly. Not only did he drop a certain pick six against the Giants, but he was picked on over and over again Sunday. I played a little HS football and I was typically the fastest person on the field. I remember the sad day a few years later playing flag football when my age caught up to me. I knew where I was supposed to be, knew where the ball was going to be thrown, but could no longer make my body get to that spot in time to prevent it. I think Newman may be at that stage and just doesn’t want to admit it yet.
4. The NFL game is amazingly fast and hard hitting. I wouldn’t last 10 seconds on the field with any of these guys so I am very hesitant to call out someone’s toughness. But, I’m not making millions of dollars to play it either. Is it just me or is Mike Jenkins constantly hurt? I’m not saying the injuries aren’t legitimate but what good is a talented player at that position that can’t stay on the field? I give him props for going back in the game but he seems pretty fragile.
5. Tough injury for DeMarco Murray. I sincerely hope he recovers fully and is back out there next year with the same punishing style he displayed this season. But, it was a nasty injury and his return to form is not guaranteed. Great to see Felix Jones step up the way he did – easily the best game of his injury plagued season. But, with him we all know it is not a matter of “if” he gets hurt, it is “when”. To say I’m less than enthusiastic about our new backup plan at running back would be an understatement. Sammy Morris? Really? Was Emmitt Smith tied up? I will admit the scouting department has made some good moves this year with Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiammetta to name two, but the Morris signing is a reach I think. Tashard Choice looks pretty good to me right now despite his lack of production elsewhere. In hindsight, I’m not sure waiving him was the best move.
6. I’ve looked at the play over and over and I’m sorry. I’d like to believe that Miles lost the ball in the lights but I just don’t see it. Admirable that he is trying to deflect blame from his quarterback, but let’s be honest about it. Romo overthrew a wide open Miles Austin at a critical juncture in the game. For me, that crystallized in one play who Tony is – he is a very good quarterback that makes some outstanding throws and statistically has some great games. But, he is not elite. I guarantee you that Aaron Rodgers makes that throw. Tom Brady makes that throw. Drew Brees makes that throw. Hell, based on how he played Sunday night, Eli Manning, the self proclaimed “elite quarterback” makes that throw. Romo didn’t, and Romo isn’t an elite QB. Tough pill to swallow because I am a huge Romo fan. His autographed Cowboy helmet is the centerpiece of my collection of memorabilia. But, he just does not come through in the important moments and I regrettably now believe he will never lead us to the promised land.
7. Ironic isn’t it that with all the plays in Sundays game and all the back and forth it was likely a dropped pass by the Giants that killed the Cowboys chances. Had Manningham not dropped a sure touchdown pass with nearly 2 minutes still on the clock, the Cowboys offense would have had a lot more time than 46 seconds to try and score. I think they would have put the ball in the end zone with a little more time making the Giants two-point conversion meaningless. But, he dropped it and the defense still couldn’t stop a single drive in the last 5 minutes.
8. The Cowboys still have a chance to make the playoffs but it is slipping away. Furthermore, I’m not sure at the end of the day it really matters. The Giants may have emerged with the victory on Sunday, but there isn’t a single playoff team that fears playing that porous defense. Likewise, if Dan Bailey had somehow made that last kick and the Cowboys actually figured out a way to win (I believe whichever team had gotten the ball first would have won in overtime), do you think the Packers, Saints, or even the 49ers would be at all concerned about playing the Giants or Cowboys? As gut wrenching as losing to the Giants was, maybe it was like pulling the Band-aid off quickly and getting it over with instead of drawing out the agony.
So, here is how I see what’s left of this miserable season playing out. Dallas will find a way to beat Tampa Bay – we can’t seem to beat too many teams convincingly, so it may be closer than anyone would like, but I think our offense will score more points than theirs. Even though it is back in Dallas, I just don’t see the Cowboys beating Philadelphia. After the shellacking and the embarrassment that the Eagles put on us in Philly a few weeks back, a team with any pride would come out smoking and put a beating on Philadelphia in our stadium. But, the team showed this last week that they just don’t rise to the occasion and I think Philly wins in Dallas. Based on the history of this series of late and little else, I think we find a way to squeak out a win in NY in the season finale, but by then the Giants will have won the division. No one hopes more than me that I am dead wrong. The injury-riddled Packers eked their way into the playoffs last year and went on a tear ultimately winning the Super Bowl. Could this team pull that off? Sadly, I don’t think so. Hang in there Cowboy fans. Another long off season is approaching fast.
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