Cowboys roller coaster of hope at top speed after four games

Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates after making a first down conversion during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi
Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates after making a first down conversion during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi /

After four games, the Dallas Cowboys are right where they wanted to be at 3-1. The journey there, however, has been a roller coaster of hope.

One quarter of the season is already over.  If you asked Dallas Cowboys fans prior to August 26, 2016, a lot of them would not be shocked with the 3-1 start.

You remember that day, right?

The offense was humming right along in the preseason, posting 65 points in two games.  Wide receiver Dez Bryant looked poised for another big year.  There was optimism about rookie Dak Prescott as the backup.  Quarterback Tony Romo and rookie Ezekiel Elliott hadn’t even lined up for a snap.

The very next day, three plays into his first appearance, Romo laid on the ground for several minutes.  A large portion of hope suddenly evaporated.

The first game of the season followed and this offense struggled to score on touchdown.  The running game sputtered to the tune of 3.4 yards per carry.  Another home loss, to a divisional foe at that, stomped whatever hope was left.

The very next week, this team was facing 0-2 directly in the face.  Down to the Redskins in the fourth quarter, on the road, with them driving, hope was on life support.

Then safety Barry Church intercepted Kirk Cousins in the end zone to end Washington’s rally.  Just like that, hope had a pulse.  Prescott followed it up with an 11 play, 80 yard drive ending in a touchdown and hope was back.

A decisive win the next week, minus the best left tackle in the game as well as the team’s number one cornerback took hope to a new high only to be tested once more.

Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys increased the degree of difficulty by copious amounts.

Tyron Smith out again with a bad back.  Dez Bryant out with a knee injury.  Orlando Scandrick missing another week with a bad hamstring.   Still no Tony Romo.

You want more reason to lose hope?  How about spotting the 49ers a fourteen point lead, on the road, while showing no semblance of defense?

No worries, this team had San Francisco right where they wanted them.

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Two rapid fire scores right before halftime, followed by a dominating rushing attack in the second half put this team at 3-1.  The cup of hope runneth over.  Just like we all thought, right?

This Dallas Cowboys team has the “it” factor once again.  It honestly seems a solution awaits whatever problem this team must face.

Star players miss games?  The Dallas Cowboys still win.

Drama and turmoil surrounding a player’s attendance for meetings?  The Dallas Cowboys still win.

Starting a rookie quarterback AND running back?  The Dallas Cowboys still win.

Last year, the “next man up” philosophy was tested and met with an epic level of failure.  This year, it’s almost as if this team relishes it.

Through one quarter of the season, this team will take the results.  With a tough stretch ahead, do they have more answers?  One thing is certain.  There is reason to hope that they do.

More Dallas Cowboys observations from Week 4:

  • Last year, with no Dez Bryant, the play of Terrance Williams was often disappointing.  On Sunday, the difference was night and day.  Williams got himself open several times, producing 44 yards and a touchdown on six targets.  With no idea when Dez will be back, it will be interesting to see if Williams continues to step up.
  • Give left tackle Chaz Green credit.  He looked horrible in the preseason, penalized by referees and punished by opponents.  In the two games minus Smith, however, he’s been quite solid.  Prescott has been only been sacked twice, while Green has only been penalized twice.  That’s a win anyway you slice it
  • If you can’t appreciate what cornerback Morris Claiborne is out here doing, there is something wrong with you.  Through all sorts of adversity, he has continued to fight and has turned himself into a very good player.  I said it last week and I’ll repeat myself.  Claiborne is going to cost the Dallas Cowboys a lot of money next year.  Happily, I’d sign that check if I was Jerry Jones.
  • Speaking of money, how much would you have won had you made this wager with a friend?  Through four games, the Dallas Cowboys defense will be in the top ten in points allowed.  Currently at 10th, they are better than Arizona, Carolina, the New York Jets and next week’s opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals.

Next: Dallas Cowboys beat Niners: Offensive Player Grades

  • The meltdowns in pass coverage, however, need to cease.  With receiver A.J. Green and possibly the return of tight end Tyler Eifert, the Bengals will test them often.  If Jeremy Kerley and Garrett Celek can each get a pair of 20+ yard receptions, what do you think Green and Eifert can do?

We’re on to Cincinnati.