It should’ve been over, Cowboys

In previous posts I talked about how much happier I am that the Cowboys seem to be playing better, and the games are entertaining.  However, I really thought that entertaining should be interpreted as winning, not winning, then losing a big lead, then kicking a field goal in the last 50 secs, then depending on our 31st-in-the-NFL ranked defense to hold.  That kind of nail biting drama I prefer in my theater experience, not my Sunday football.  I’ll concede that it was an exciting game, but with the Cowboys history this season the comeback had me thinking the collapse was upon us (again). 

Dallas led 13-0 before Grossman had crossed midfield. Washington coach Mike Shanahan’s benching of Donovan McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that stretched their lead to 27-7.

They could’ve been up even more, but had only field goals to show for drives that reached the 20 and 2, and didn’t have anything to show for drives that reached the 1 and 18.

Still, the way the game was going, what could go wrong?

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The good news is that they did hold and the game was won on that Field Goal.  But it really shouldn’t have come to that.  But then again that is the story of this season for the Cowboys.  It shouldn’t have come to that.  So what’s next?  The Cardinals and the Eagles.  Looks like a split to me, W from the Cards and a L from the Eagles, for a 6-10 finish.  Maybe if the defense can manage it, the Eagles game is a W as the Eagles lay up for the playoffs.  There is a difference in how this plays out, and likely Garrett’s ongoing role as head coach is at stake.

Not only did the Cowboys somehow manage to transform a blowout laugher into a staggering-to-the-wire victory over the Redskins, Jason Garrett’s future as the head coach may have been hanging in the balance.

Asked after a 33-30 survival if he had any such doubts, Garrett answered firmly, “No, not for a second. We live in the present.”

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Jerry Jones was happy, but he wasn’t so direct about the future role of Garrett:

“I was like everyone else, I thought we had it tucked away, and it was going to be a cakewalk in the second half,” Jones said. “But the way it ended, I’m not looking at the negatives. I want to stress that again. Our team came back and got it done. For today, that’s what I’m taking away from this game.”

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So IF Garrett is to have a future as head coach, I’ll wager he has lots of work to do. 

  • Fix the defense.  Sure they used to be an impressive defense, but things have not been working for them and they are next to last now.  Clean it up, replace slacking players, if needed change the Def Coordinator (who is interim after Phillips left?)

The bottom line is that some of new coordinator Paul Pasqualoni’s changes have not worked. How could anyone expect otherwise? When basically nothing was working for Phillips, it’s an achievement that anything at all is working for Pasqualoni.

But the problem is that the players who have been to Pro Bowls – Newman and his fellow corner Mike Jenkins – often look as beatable as the secondary’s rookies and unproven players.

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  • Better play calling on the offensive side.  Yep, this on is Garrett throughout the season.  He should be doing better to get the offense moving and stay moving. 

The Cowboys raced out to its big lead thanks to good field position in the first half. In the first quarter alone, Dallas started drives at the Dallas 46 (Bryan McCann kickoff return), the Washington 30 (McCann punt return), the Washington 27 (Gerald Sensabaugh interception), and the Washington 35 (McCann punt return). However, Dallas only managed 13 points on those drives thanks to some shaky play in the red zone.

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Now with some players hitting good marks, like Witten (congrats to you Jason on your achievements) and Kitna doing well, the questions remains, is the coaching staff the problem, or just slow on the solution?  With no playoffs in the picture, I guess we have time to find out.  And it shouldn’t have come to this.


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