Thanksgiving and Cowboys football: Two shamefully gluttonous traditions that go hand in hand. As you load another heap of green bean casserole onto your plate, Romo throws an interception directly to Deangelo Hall. You muster a little hope for your waistline as you spoon a little "lite" Cool Whip on your sugar-laden pumpkin pie, meanwhile Dez Bryant cradles the pigskin inches from the ground in the end zone, giving your tiny sports-heart life. Finally, you hit the inevitable wall. Your eyes glaze over as your last waking vision is Kai Forbath drilling a 48-yard field goal, forcing your tryptophan-laden body to slip into the arms of a restless slumber.
It's a model for failure that this year's iteration of the Cowboys has nearly perfected; get a shovel, dig a hole. Over and over, this team just hasn't come out prepared for games. No team will ever find consistent success by constantly putting themselves behind. It's a strain on the players and coaches, and it should be a strain on the general manager. There's no telling what Jerry Jones thinks of his team at this stage. Nobody likes to lose and I doubt Jerry is any different, but the question is: Does he know how to build a winner?
One has to admire the fight that this team displays on a weekly basis, but all that fighting will likely just get them close enough to the playoffs that they don't make it and wind up with a mediocre draft pick. It's a cycle that shows zero signs of slowing down, which is tough to handle when you admire guys like Tony Romo and Demarcus Ware, who are giving maximum effort for an organization that doesn't quite understand how to make that effort translate to wins. Before we throw down the morning coffee and start chugging the Jameson, let's roll with some observations and awards.
The First Drive Was The Warning Sign: Many will point to the second quarter as the key cog in the collapse of this game. The Cowboys did indeed surrender 28 points with spectacular ease in that frame, but the very first drive was our red flag. After the defense forced a staunch three and out, Dallas began their march from midfield. Mixing a little run and pass, a strategy that would be necessarily abandoned shortly after, the Cowboys wound up with first and 10 on the Washington 11 yard line. Three passes and a penalty later, and Dan Bailey is kicking a 30-yarder.
Good teams score a touchdown there. When they've got an opportunity to seize the upper hand, good teams capitalize. This is why, among several other things, the Cowboys are not a good football team. We saw the exact same thing against Atlanta over an extended period. Two deep drives ended with field goals, giving Dallas a toothless 6-0 halftime lead.
Well At Least The Halftime Show...: Ah, screw it, that halftime show was more predictably terrible than the Cowboys' second quarter bed-sharting. A few questions surrounding the performance that demand answers: - When the planning committee was sorting through potential acts to contact for the show, who did they think wasn't good enough? I'd rather see Jerry Jones on stage rapping while a DJ scratches records that look like pizzas than Kenny freaking Chesney. - So, a chick rushed the stage and didn't immediately get tazed by a roadie. Were the roadies just in shock that somebody was actually running toward the stage? - Does Kenny ever not wear a hat? I'd investigate further, but I can't muster the want-to.
The Injuries Just Keep Stacking Up: With Bruce Carter, Miles Austin and Orlando Scandrick all finishing the game yesterday on the sidelines, that brings the total number of two-deep injuries for the Cowboys to around thirteen hundred. Injuries aren't the only reason the Cowboys are losing, they were bad early in the year with a healthy squad, but they aren't helping.
If there's any optimism left in the glass, the swiss-cheesing of the roster has allowed guys like Josh Brent, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley to show their skills playing increased roles. Unfortunately, it has also given Mike Jenkins the opportunity to make tomahawk tackles when the opponent is 8-yards deep in the end zone.
And let's see if we can find anyone to give an award to.
The Tiny Stats, Big Heart Award: Felix Jones. Listed as a game-time decision with two gimpy knees, Felix showed a lot of guts taking a majority of the snaps at running back. He's showed good burst on a few pass plays, but was mostly silenced in the running game. At this point, that's probably more an indictment on how terrible this offensive line is, but that's a topic for an entire book.
The Almost Ready To Kind-Of Breakthrough Award: Dez Bryant. We saw this last week, and it crept up again this week. Bryant turned in a spectacular performance stat-wise, but made just a couple mistakes to give you pause. His two touchdowns were All-Pro level, but his fumble at midfield in the second quarter ignited the Redskin powder-keg. Dez also had a dropped touchdown in the final minutes, but that one was more of a fine play by the defender than anything else. The key here is that we're slowly starting to see Dez play at an elite level for longer stretches.
The Somebody On The Defense Should Be Mentioned I Guess Award: The Defensive Line. For a unit that typically has a tough time getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the line played a pretty solid game. Sacking RG3 4 times and registering 8 hits, they definitely got to him. Unfortunately, they didn't get much help from idiotic coverage as Griffin double deep-fried the Cowboys secondary.
The Eagles come trotting into town next Sunday, so the Cowboys can enjoy the final game of the year that they'll be the favorite to win. Here's hoping the extra time to game-plan is spent actually planning for the game.