Early in Landrys' coaching career his ability was called into question.
In Dallas there is a young head coach who was hired from another team where he served as a coordinator. This coach was once a player coach with the New York Giants. The Cowboys performance under this new coach was inconsistent at best. Cowboys’ fans called for his head constantly. They questioned all of his moves from his system to the types of players he drafted. The Cowboys lost close games, gave up leads, and generally played poorly. They were called “Next Year’s Champions” because they rarely could get to a Super Bowl and when they did they never won. This was the team of the 60′s when the Cowboys franchise was young. The coach was Tom Landry.
Let’s just say the Dallas Cowboys are what they are. These Dallas Cowboys are not the teams of the 90′s or even the 70′s, 80′s or 00′s. Teams in those decades gave up 12+ point leads in the 4th quarter only twice. The team of 2011 has done it three times this season alone. So as fans we all need to take a collective breath and do one of the following things, give up being fans or realize these are the Cowboys of the 60′s. If you want to stay a fan then we need to take the good with the bad. We need to support the coaches when they fail but still demand they succeed. No NFL is consistently successful with a rotating door at the key coaching positions. Stick with Garrett and let him grow into a successful Super Bowl coach. As we continue to stick with him we will have to live with these weekly disappointments.
This game revealed more about the Cowboys than any other game this season. Here are 5 points to consider.
1. Tony Romo is a good enough QB to win games. Romo finished the game with a 141 QB rating. That moves him up to 100.6 for the season. He ranks 4th in the league and over first round picks like Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, and Ben Roethlisberger. For everyone that will point to games that Dallas has lost this season where Romo had a hand in the loss I will offer the following point. Romo put this team into a position to win on Sunday and the other key parts of the team did not help him. Play calling, dropped passes, porous defense and poor special teams play are all factors that hurt Romo and his good performances. Romo just suffered his first loss when he throws 4 TDs. For any QB who has thrown more that 20 TDs this season only one has thrown fewer interceptions. If you hate Romo and blame him for the losses (I think there was equal fault on Miles and Romo on the key pass that fell incomplete in the 4th quarter) then tell me who could be better right now. Looking at the stats, no one could come in and do was well.
2. Dallas still has issues when they have to run the ball. Felix Jones did a great job yesterday, but there is still a long way to go with the Cowboys running game. On Sunday evening Dallas had their chance to run out the clock and seal the victory. The Cowboys of the Super Bowl years would run to get enough yardage and keep the clock running then make key passing completions to keep the defense honest. They almost did that yesterday, but they threw a ball to player who just returned from being injured. Then the line cannot get a push to save their life. This has been a constant issue for Dallas over the last several seasons and they continue to ignore it. While many will speculate that this year’s draft of several offensive linemen should begin to address the issue, they have not looked at fullback ever. All anyone has to look at is how well Jon Connor has played for the New York Jets and wonder what could have been since all but two players that Dallas drafted in front of him have been cut. If Dallas could have ran the ball effectively then they could have ran out the clock and won the game.
3. The Defense cannot close games. When Dallas has a lead in the second quarter there are two factors that seem to be the most consistent. The offense cannot move the ball and get enough yardage to help the defense. While I firmly believe that all comes down to coaching/play calling, the Defense had their chances to stop the other team several times. Last season media and fans alike complained about the Cowboys and their defensive collapse in games. Well they are singing the same song this season too. Problem is not the coordinator or the scheme it’s the players. Dallas has improved some by drafting players like Bruce Carter and Sean Lee but they also passed on some key players that could have helped the team. This past draft Dallas decided to pass on trading down and picking up more draft picks. While they may have missed on Tyron Smith, I don’t think that their second choice would have played that differently this season and Dallas could have picked up some solid defensive line help. They need to improve on pressuring the QB. No sacks on Eli and only two hits is unacceptable for a team who prides themselves on pressure. The defensive line could not get it done and that cost Dallas a lot of opportunities.
4. Special teams. Come on man! For the past 8 seasons Dallas has searched for a return guy. I could talk all day about who they passed on in recent drafts, but even this past season in free agency they passed on players like Johnny Lee Higgins and Ted Ginn. Both of whom have performed better than the Cowboys players save maybe Dez. Then add in the blocked kick, poor punts, and recent lack of coverage and we can see where Dallas needs overall improvement on special teams. I hate to think that Joe DeCamillis needs to go for these teams to improve, but it may come down to that.
5. Coaching changes. Ok before the season started I said that Ryan was not the right guy for the job. That he really does not have the consistency in his precious coaching as a top performing coach, but we all know he is just waiting for the first team to call him for a head coaching position. However Ryan is not the coach I think needs to go first. No the smartest thing that Dallas can do is hire Tony Sparano as the offensive coordinator and let Garrett just be the head coach. I think that Jason will develop faster as a head coach if he can pass off the head coaching duties to another coach whom he trusts. Sparano is the coach. Not only is he available and knows the Cowboys players and system, but Romo had his greatest success while Sparano was the OC. I think this would make the Cowboys an immediate contender next season.
This game was really a back breaker. Cowboys’ fans should be ticked off and Giants fans should be relieved. Really Dallas outplayed the giants and it was critical mistakes by Dallas that allowed the Giants to win. Penalties at key times, missed tackles, missed reception, missed blocks, and poor play calling all gave the game to the Giants. Yeah the Giants had to capitalize on those opportunities, but the Cowboys really had every chance to win this game and gave it away. While I am not going to say the refs are the cause of the loss, they sure had a significant hand in giving the game to New York. Phantom pass interference calls in the end zone to missing huge holding calls. Heck I don’t think they called one holding call in the Cowboys favor and I consistently saw more than one per play.
I would like to think that the Cowboys can win the rest of their games and make the playoffs. However, after if the Cowboys are going to just give games away I don’t know if I even want to see them in the playoffs. While I would always hold out hope that Dallas could put it all together and make a deep run into the playoffs, I just don’t see how this can be done with their recent performances. Yeah Dallas can beat Tampa Bay, and they have the talent to beat Philadelphia to set up a showdown with New York, will they. For them to give me the confidence to get to the playoffs and actually make a difference, they will have to play near perfect football in their next two games.