A proud franchise that once upon a time won Super Bowls behind a Doomsday Defense is these days shackled to the most disappointing season in team history by a defense that is simply doomed.
Back in training camp down in The Alamodome in San Antonio, head coach Wade Phillips trumpeted a promising season with this prediction about his team's defense:
"I think we can be the best defense in the NFL," Phillips said while exactly none of us arched an eyebrow. "Ranked in the top five. We have a chance to be really, really good."
But instead of No. 1, the Cowboys' defense ranks 25th, including second-to-last in points allowed. The biggest reason Phillips is fired and the Cowboys' Super Bowl aspirations long ago evaporated?
The 2010 Cowboys may wind up having the worst defense in the franchise's 50-year history.
Phillips and the rest of us were excited about 2010, convinced that Alan Ball was an upgrade from Ken Hamlin at safety, that Sean Lee was an upgrade from Bobby Carpenter at Nickel linebacker and that Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman were Pro Bowl corners and DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer were the best bookend pass-rushing linebackers in the league.
But Ball sucks and Gerald Sensabaugh has regressed and Jenkins has regressed even further and Lee is just now blossoming and Spencer has all but disappeared and run-stopper Marcus Spears suffered a season-ending injury and ...
Mr. Fix It's 3-4 is broken. Beyond repair.
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The 4-9 Cowboys have surrendered 366 points through 13 games, on pace to give up 450 at 28.1 points per game. The record? 405 in 2004. Even the 1-15 Cowboys of 1989 allowed only 393 points.
In the last three weeks against vaunted quarterbacks Drew Brees-Peyton Manning-Michael Vick, the Cowboys were bludgeoned for almost 1,300 yards and a whopping 95 points. Against the Eagles with a chance to win they couldn't stop LeSean McCoy right up the gut, allowing Philly to run out the game's final 4:22.
Marion Barber's a bust and Tony Romo got hurt and Roy Williams can't run a route and Dez Bryant got hurt and Leonard Davis is all but done, but on the Cowboys' 2010 tombstone just may be scratched this epitaph:
Here lies the worst defense in Dallas Cowboys' history.