2-2. Middle of the road.
Not really good, but not really bad. Enough promise in the on-the-field product to make you believe there could be more, but enough faults to think it might not be salvageable. You can make yourself feel better and say - we were just plays away from being 4-0. Or you can say good teams would've closed out those games and been 4-0.
You get the point; this team is not good enough to have total faith in, but not bad enough to write off. You just can't generate that kind of certainty around this group, but you can look at this team, and come away with some basic tenets.
If Felix Jones ever gets healthy and stays healthy, this team can run the ball on anybody. Marion Barber has looked every bit himself this year with fierce running and hyped emotions - outside of the injury, of course. Tashard Choice picked up where he left off last season, the super-sub who plays like a starter. Then there's Felix, who may be one of the keys to the season. We know what happens when he gets the ball in his hands, and opposing defenses don't like it one bit. He's a yardage machine, any moment is a TD in-waiting. If he could ever stay healthy, watch out.
The offensive line has been solid for the most part, but they are struggling with one of the same things they did last year - picking up blitzes, especially delayed or disguised blitzes. When they can just run block, or when they can diagnose the play before the snap, they're every bit as good as most NFL lines. If Hudson Houck could just figure out how to get the protections settled and the blitzes nullified, again, watch out. This offense could get back on track quickly.
Jason Garrett is either too tricky, or not tricky enough. Trying to fool the Panthers with two fades in a row from the goal line? Too tricky. Trying to run the exact same play twice at the end of the game in Denver at the goal line? Not tricky enough. It's a fine line between genius and fool. And just like the Cowboys, he hasn't clearly defined where he ranks yet.
The defense has made strides over the last few weeks. The secondary seems better with Mike Jenkins playing up to his ability, although Pat Watkins in for Gerald Sensabaugh, for any length of time, might be worrisome. Watkins just reminds of the past few years when our secondary was a sieve. They're still not water-tight yet, but it does appear to be improving.
Up front, the curious case of DeMarcus Ware rolls on. Against Denver he was getting pressure that helped create some of the sacks, but he just can't get there himself. The good news is that others are starting to pick up the slack. And the run defense is on the mend, too. As Keith Brooking settles in, things are starting to solidify in that area. After a shaky opening to the season, lately they've shown they have the capability to be an asset, instead of the problem. They're even starting to get turnovers.
All of that was a long of way of saying they have the pieces they need to make this work. If the coaching can get a little better, then it could really start to move forward. Seriously though, Wade. How dumb do you think we are to believe that a blitz meant Jason Witten couldn't get out in the pattern? I won't even say that there have been hundreds of blitzes before when Witten was in the pattern. There are plenty of different ways to scheme him into the pattern - like splitting him out wide maybe? If they want to blitz and leave him open, I'll take my chances. All I'm saying is - we know it's tough coaching in the NFL, but when you tell us stuff like that, it makes the confidence-meter in your abilities to run this team plummet. I'm just saying.
Notice anything missing in this incoherent babble? Yeah, that would be the name Tony Romo. Why is that? Because to me, we can blab and complain and analyze until we're blue in the face, but we really only need to know one thing to know if this team is succeeding - and that's how is Tony Romo playing. So far, he's been not great, but not awful. He's been average. Hence, 2-2. He looked great against Tampa, not so good against New York. A nice, efficient error-free game against the Panthers, an inaccurate mess in Denver.
This is different than saying he needs to win the game for us, or it's all on his shoulders. It's not. The other guys mentioned above, the other areas of the team all need to do their part for Romo to succeed. But, if they do their part, then it's really about Romo. In the New York game, if Romo had played an average game, we would have won. In Denver, if Romo could have managed to connect on a few of his second-half passes, and we put another seven on the board, I don't think Denver had the firepower to come back, not the way the defense was playing. The Cowboys defense, the offensive line, the running game, even the passing game, they've all been good enough to keep Dallas in all four games this year. Against good teams and bad.
It's up to Romo to finish the deal, consistently. He's the final nail in the other team's coffin. He's the barometer by which you can measure the Cowboys. We should all be rooting for him to succeed. Because if he doesn't, this team will find itself going from 2-2 to 8-8. And that just isn't going to get it done.
I'm still backing Romo all the way, but he's not the golden idol that can't be criticized. We know he can play better than he has been recently, we've seen it before. Watching the other areas of this team, I think they're good enough to do their part. Now, if Romo can just get his groove back, this team could shake the mediocre blues and become a force.
I can't be certain about anything with this team, but I'm betting it will happen.