Answer is, they’re not but you sure would think so if your opinion were based solely on the expert analysis of sports shows like the ones that air on
If I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I too will take any early season success with a grain of salt until I see this team playing its best football down the stretch. 1 or 2 maybe even 3 straight years of late season collapses is nothing to be that concerned about but 12 straight years of it? That’s a pattern; the type of pattern the Detroit Lions are made out of. If I really think about it the last time the Cowboys played their best football, in the month of December, Jimmy Johnson was the coach; that’s a LONG time ago. I realize that Barry Switzer coached a team that won the Super Bowl in ’95 but even that team had a lousy December and quite honestly lucked out with their playoff match ups in that they didn’t have to face a 49ers team that had their number (as it is they barely squeaked by a vastly inferior Steelers team in that Super Bowl).
The Cowboys have posted a 40-26 record over the past 4 seasons (including the post-season). Over that same period of time they have gone 10-3 in the month of September; 10-7 in the month of October; 13-3 in the month of November; a lousy 7-11 in the month of December and an even uglier 0-2 in January. Why so great in November and so abysmal December? The two months are separated by just one day. Is it scheduling? Are the schedules tougher for the Cowboys in December? That‘s no excuse as the real elite teams win those tough games. Has it been injuries? That’s no excuse as the real elite teams overcome injuries as well. Is it the weather? Are the Cowboys a team that can’t win cold weather games? This never used to be a problem for the Silver and Blue. Over the past two seasons it’s really been the offense that has done the biggest about-face as the holidays approach.
Over the past two seasons Jason Garrett’s offense has put up a staggering average of nearly 29 points a game in months of September – November while putting up a meager average of 14 points a game in months of December and January. That’s more than cutting in half the point production. My biggest fear is that over the course of the season opposing D-Coordinators are putting together game plans that by season’s end Garrett is having a hard time counter adjusting to in a timely matter. My other concern is that Garrett has had a difficult time adjusting his game plans when injuries occur. This was never more evident than last season when Romo went down but Garrett still had his receivers running the same type of deep routes that Johnson just did not have the arm for; rather than adjusting the team’s strategies to play to Johnson’s strengths, (more underneath routes and check down options). Or how about how few touches Choice got after Felix went down (it took an additional injury to Barber before Choice finally saw any significant playing time).
The evidence tells me that when given a full off-season to draw things up and given a healthy offense Garrett can “X’s and O’s” with the best of them but as the circumstances change he has not yet got the experience to modify the strategies it took him an entire off-season to develop. Have the past two years been enough of a learning experience to help him over this hump? Time will tell.
It does feel different this year and quite honestly I’m glad the media is down on Dallas. I’d rather they be underdogs than favorites. If this franchise can finally find a way to finish strong this could truly be a magical season; especially if they start out as hot as they have in recent seasons.