Well, the long season is over. There is no more speculation. There is no more hope. There is no more hype. Long time Dallas Cowboys announcer Brad Sham described the season as the most disappointing in Dallas Cowboys history. I don’t know. Over the last 23 years, the Dallas Cowboys have had lots of disappointing seasons. The problem with this year was that the year started off with so much hope. We seem to have an offense that had the ability to both run and throw the ball. The defense is really coming on last year and there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t play as well if not better than they did last year.
The year started out with so much promise. We played the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins and then the Miami Dolphins. We dominated all three games. Then, we went to New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints shut down what seemed to be an unstoppable Dallas Cowboys offense. The Dallas Cowboys rushed for only 45 yards. But, Dallas Cowboys fans felt pretty good because New Orleans Saints only generated 266 yards of offense. Yet, something didn’t seem right. The following week, the Dallas Cowboys had to play the Green Bay Packers. This began the start of what some called “slow starts” and Dallas Cowboys losses. The Dallas Cowboys got behind early. Aaron Jones, by the end of the game, has four touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys. (In the history of the Cowboys they had never given up four touchdown to a back in a single game.) So much for their vaunted defense. Well, at least the Dallas Cowboys would get a breather. They would get to play the New York Jets. Let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned. Once again the Cowboys got off to a slow start. The Cowboys are down 21-6 at halftime. Sam Darnold, who many believe has not lived up to his expectations and may even be a bust, was 23 of 32 four 338 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Dallas Cowboys made him look like he was ready for the Hall of Fame. This was a terrible loss. This is an inexcusable loss. This is the kind of loss that you need to start scratching your head and trying to decide what is actually going wrong. When you look at the game, we really had very little pressure on the quarterback. We only had two sacks all day against the lowly New York Jets. Although the Jets didn’t run the ball particularly well, they threw the ball extremely well. They don’t have a top 10 receiver. This game exposed the Dallas Cowboys cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers. The Dallas Cowboys couldn’t cover. Chidobe Awuzie was a high draft pick. He was supposed to become shutdown corner this year. That didn’t happen. As a matter fact, he was a good corner last year. He struggled all year this year. To date, he is been targeted 85 times and allowed 54 receptions. Opposing quarterbacks have a quarterback rating of 97.3. He has one interception and is given up three touchdowns. Looking at the stats he is a slightly below average for cornerbacks in the NFL. On the other side we had Byron Jones. He also was coming off of a good year. He just didn’t play well this year. Neither one of them did.
The most telling game of the Dallas Cowboys season was the Minnesota Vikings game. In this game the defense was clearly exposed that the Cowboys couldn’t stop the run or the pass. At one point during a drive in the third quarter, the Minnesota Vikings did that best impersonation of the Dallas Cowboys. The Minnesota Vikings ran the ball 10 straight running plays. Not once did the Dallas Cowboys stop the Vikings for a loss. The Minnesota Vikings ate clock. They ran the ball extremely effectively and they ended of the drive with a touchdown. Many people talk about the exceptional talent that the Dallas Cowboys had on defense. This one-game clearly exposed the fact that the talent was not that exceptional. As a matter fact the talent was average to below average. I would like to point out that Jaylon Smith was victimized and play after play. The Minnesota Vikings would run these zone stretch plays to the outside and Jaylon Smith would overrun the play time after time. Jaylon Smith is a good player who is just signed a big contract. Right now, he hasn’t played up to his ability or to his contract.
On offense, the Dallas Cowboys have to look at their offense of line. The offense of line was not as dominant. There were several times during the season when we needed to be able to do something special in the running game and it wasn’t there. Sure, there were times where Ezekiel Elliott just didn’t seem like he was running as hard as he could. He just didn’t seem to have that explosiveness that we’ve seen before. In tight games, the offense seemed to be completely unable to impose their will.
Jimmy Johnson used to always talk about there are three phases in football. There was offense. There was defense. And there were special teams. For some reason, it seems like the Cowboys completely forgot about special teams this year. Our special teams were abysmal. They were the worst in the league. The Cowboys can’t return punts. The Cowboys can’t return kickoffs. They can’t cover punts or cover kickoffs. This is simply unacceptable. At the very least you should be average.
Now, the season is over. The Dallas Cowboys have a perfectly mediocre 8 – 8 record. Jason Garrett will probably be fired in the next couple of days. I like Jason Garrett as a person. I think it’s probably an okay coach. But there have been games when Jason Garrett was just completely outcoached. I don’t think there were any games where Jimmy Johnson was outcoached.
The problem remains with Jerry Jones. He is the owner. He is the general manager. He’s the one that sets the tone. He’s the one that says is acceptable for Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper to tap their helmets and take breathers on the sidelines. If it was unacceptable he would make sure that that particular practice would change. Remember, last week, the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Philadelphia Eagles. It is fourth-down and late in the game. Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb are out of the game. They weren’t hurt. The season of the Dallas Cowboys was on the line and their best receiver was sitting on the bench. That is just unacceptable. Jason Garrett should be fired for that and that alone. The mediocrity will not stop until Jerry Jones will hire somebody who is a real coach. A real coach will take control of the team.