There is no team in the NFL who should be more worried about their season after week two than the Dallas Cowboys. (Possible exceptions are the San Francisco 49ers, who play today on NFL, and the Minnesota Vikings.) Three or four years ago, the Dallas Cowboys wowed the NFL with a prolific offense which was a combination of deep passes and hard running by Marion Barber. Last year, the Cowboys seemed to have the ability to lose a game they needed to win. Then, magically, down the stretch, they began to win football games. They won their first playoff game in more than a decade. Expectations for this season were high.
Last year, I pointed out problems in the secondary and on our offensive line. No game exemplified our offensive problems better than the physical beating we took from the Minnesota Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings front seven simply beat up the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line. Every man from the Vikings won his battle. Tony Romo had no time to throw the ball. There were no running lanes. It was awful. So, in the off-season, Jerry Jones decided to address the problem by firing Flozell Adams (a good move) and placing Doug Free in his place. That was it. Many made excuses for the Dallas Cowboys’ anemic preseason performance by reminding us that it was preseason. There was nothing to worry about. So we wandered into the home of our arch rivals, the Washington Redskins. The offense proved, definitively, that they could move the ball between the 20s. (This was the same Washington Redskins’ defense that had just gotten torched by the Houston Texans for almost 500 passing yards and more than 30 points.) All that offensive production produced a whopping seven points. Excuses were made.
Now, the Chicago Bears limped into Cowboys Stadium after a terrible performance against the Lions. They have a new offensive coordinator which they haven’t quite figured out. They’ve got Jay Cutler, who is known to hand out interceptions like Warren Buffett is handing out money to charities. This was a nice opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys to put their offense, their season, back on track. It didn’t happen. The two-headed monster — turnovers and penalties — reared its ugly head once again.
It would be too easy to blame the Dallas Cowboys 27-20 loss on turnovers and penalties. There was much more. When I look at the Dallas Cowboys performance, especially on offense, I continue to see a Tony Romo who simply looks as if he’s going through the motions. Where was the pinpoint accuracy? Early in the first quarter, Tony Romo led Miles Austin into a vicious hit. Miles Austin fumbled the ball. When you look at the play, both Jason Witten and Felix Jones were open underneath. On the second interception, it was a pass for Jason Witten, which appeared to be behind him. Had Tony put the ball out in front of Jason, it would have been an easy pitch and catch. This is what we’ve seen from Tony Romo this year. Balls are a little bit behind or a little bit in front of receivers. This leads to incompletions or interceptions.
When a team that is supposed to go deep into the playoffs starts off 0 -2, there can be a lot of finger-pointing. The difference between making the playoffs and sitting on your couch watching the playoffs is only a little bit in the NFL. Tony Romo must lead this team. He must lead by example, an example of excellence. We live with an NFL which is currently driven by quarterbacks. The better the quarterback, the better your team does. Tony Romo has to be better.
Although Tony Romo deserves a lot of heat for the Cowboys’ current malaise, the coaching staff deserves more. The Chicago Bears adjusted their offense after the Dallas Cowboys, led by DeMarcus Ware, were simply killing Jay Cutler on the first series of plays. By the third series, the Bears had figured it out. The Cowboys made no adjustments that I could delineate. Cutler would take a two- or three-step drop, and make one read, then throw the ball. The ball was out of his hands almost instantaneously. This completely nullified the Cowboy pass rush. I saw no move by the Cowboys staff to counter this. The Cowboy coaches have to be better. They have to do better. Unfortunately, I think Cowboy fans are in for a long season.