There's so much that I want(ed) to cover in this post (rant is probably more accurate) that I had to just call it Potpourri. I'll not say that this loss was tough because really, all loses are tough. There's no such things as bad wins and good losses, it's just Wins and Losses. Come with me as I dive into this smorgasbord of issues that bother me, in no particular order.
During the preseason it was quite clear that this offensive line wasn't going to be blowing anyone off the line of scrimmage. As a result, we saw Jason Garrett using the screen and for good reason; with an offensive line that is
small "athletic" it made sense to let them get out in space where they would have a running start at hitting opponents and clearing the way for guys like Felix and DeMarco. Fast forward to the regular season and it's as if the running back screen has the same degree of difficulty as the The Fumblerooski. What gives? Again, I realize that the offensive line is being rebuilt, which is also a dirty word to many of our fans, but accept it, it's being rebuilt; not the team, but the offensive line. Please do the line some favors though, call draw plays or use the screen, it's just as effective as running the football. My co-worker who is also a Cowboys fan made a very interesting argument; when Wade Phillips was the HC and Jason Garrett was just the highest paid OC in the league, JG didn't have anything to lose. He could call plays as aggressively as he wanted to, but now that he's the head coach, he's playing scared. Here's a tip: when we need to be aggressive Jason Garrett, ie with an opportunity to beat the Patriots (or any other team for that matter) be aggressive and go and beat them. But when we need to be conservative, ie with a 24 point lead be conservative.
In keeping with the play calling, I'd like to call your attention to Dez Bryant. Much as been made about his disappearing acts in the second half of games. I have a totally different take on this so-called problem of his. He gets targeted in the beginning of games but not the second half. In the Patriots game, in the red zone, Dez wasn't targeted at all. This has everything to do with play calling, as far as I'm concerned. Other than Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson, who has better leaping ability and jump ball skills than Dez? Dez isn't disappearing in the second half of games because it's his weekly ritual. He can't throw himself the ball, it's up to JG to call the plays, the right plays at the right time.
Managing Tony Romo
This could really fall under Playcalling but much has been made about the need to manage Romo because "he sucks as a quarterback" and many people have bought into what the greatest mercenary in the history of the game, Deion Sanders, is selling which is that the Cowboys can't win with Romo as our quarterback. There was a game when Romo had a horrible game in terms of turnovers that the Cowboys won. If you don't remember which game I'm talking about, it's the Bills Game from 2007, the game before the bye week. Note: the game after the bye week was the Patriots game. In that Bills game, Romo threw 5 interceptions (2 for touchdowns) yet the Cowboys were still throwing the ball, primarily because they had to get back in/stay in the game. Romo wasn't being managed, he was allowed to make plays. If it's true that this team has more talent than the 2007 team, why are talking about managing Romo? Let your playmaker(s) make plays, plain and simple. There's a difference between managing Romo and taking the ball out of his hands and really, what Jason Garrett has done is the latter. The saying goes "be careful what you wish for" and to all those who demand that Romo be managed like in baseball where pitchers have a pitch count, be careful what you wish for. Let the man make plays. I've said repeatedly that what we love about Romo, what makes him good/great (whichever adjective you use) is the same thing that makes you upset; his confidence in his own abilities. Holding Romo back holds this team back. If you take the ball out of his hands that means the only hands the ball is going into are the running backs (more on them in a second) and not your talented players like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten and I'll even throw in Laurent Robinson after what he's shown over the course of the last 3 weeks.
This was not a position that was high on our list of worries, at least not mine. Many thought that the drafting of DeMarco Murray would add a dynamic to the running game that would open things up for the playbook and I championed this idea. But so far, Tashard Choice is what we thought he was and has become, has always been (depending on where you stand on him) the poster child for inept running backs for the Cowboys. Felix Jones makes me want to jump into a time machine and draft Chris Johnson, Ray Rice or Rashad Mendenhall. At this stage, it's quite clear that Felix is better suited as a change of pace back and not a full time guy. He is quickly becoming just like Marion Barber and neither of them is "the guy" but rather just another guy. Felix can't stay healthy and his flashes of greatness are just that, FLASHES. Bryan Broaddus, in one of his "Film Don't Lie" reviews showed how during the Redskins' game the running backs missed the holes that the offensive line opened up. It Isn't the O-Line (all the time) at some point the running backs have to know and see where the play is designed to go.
For much of the offseason leading up to the draft the positions identified as a weak links on this team were defensive line and the secondary. Through five games the unquestionable weak links on this team are the offensive line and running backs. One can't stay healthy, one can't get on Jason Garrett's good side and the rookies haven't done enough to even show what their issue(s) are. This might not be popular for many Cowboys fans, but Felix isn't the guy and Tashard will never be the guy.
Jason Garrett preached discipline, mistake free football and if you would allow me to get slightly religious for a moment, this team is back-sliding into their sinful ways under Wade Phillips. Doug Free has forgotten how to block without holding (and sooner rather than later a switch back to the right side might be in order) and special teams had four penalties in the Patriots game. Whatever JG was doing as the interim coach needs to be dug up and used again. Penalties are the difference is getting field goals rather than touchdowns, a scene that has played out far too long and often with the Cowboys. Something has to change. I don't know what's going on in meetings and practice, but the discipline that we yearned for isn't translating on the field this year.
Rob Ryan is a God-send and this defense can be scary good after this season, assuming that Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett commit to him.
The secondary isn't great, but it's not crazy to think this group has improved.
There's still a lot of football left to play and while the smell of this 2-3 record, mixed in the potpourri of issues isn't exactly pleasant, it can get better. The schedule is favorable moving forward and the division isn't scary, not this year. There are a bunch of more than just winnable games on the schedule. I haven't lost faith that this team can get it together.