What I Like About Where The Cowboys Are

Tom Pennington

The team has sagged to 5-6 after an embarrassing, in some ways, showing against the Washington Redskins. But there are some things I like very much about what is happening to the Dallas Cowboys. The question is, do I have a point or am I just crazy?

Good things are coming from this. I firmly believe that. This Dallas Cowboys are going to be better for this ongoing train wreck of a season.

Before you start trying to contact Adult Protective Services to arrange a psych evaluation for me, bear with me. I have been mulling over what is wrong with the Cowboys since the Seattle Seahawks game. I don't claim to have a good answer for that, but then again, I don't think the team does either. Dallas seems mired in a situation that needs to change.

Change is hard, however. For an individual or an organization to change, there has to be an acceptance that what is being done is not working. I think that has been a problem for the Cowboys, like it was early in the 2010 season. Then, Jerry Jones finally came to the conclusion that he had to make a change at the top, replacing Wade Phillips with Jason Garrett. Getting to that point was a difficult struggle.

If you think I am about to join the media types calling for Garrett's replacement, you are wrong. I think Garrett needs to make changes, but I don't think a head coaching switch is the answer. I do think the team, top to bottom, needs to take a long, hard look at itself and figure out what exactly it does best and go with that.

And I think that is about to happen. I think a large dose of reality has just injected itself. Certainly, Jones is talking that way.

"All I can do is just sit here and look at the numbers," Jones said Thursday, standing in the Cowboys locker room. "It looks like our best opportunity would be to end up with the best record in the NFC East. I don't know what that's going to be. I don't know if 8-8 will get it there or not, and I sure don't know if we're going to be 8-8."

For once, a JJ postgame comment that seems rooted in the actual way that Dallas played. An acknowledgement that the team is performing badly, especially in the way it starts games. Dallas keeps coming out ineffective, falling behind, often badly. And yet, the approach for the following week just seems to be the same. With the predictable results.

While I don't think Jason Garrett needs to be replaced, he does need a figurative kick in the butt. If you try the same plan for eleven weeks and have the same disappointing results, then why is the same plan in place? I think Garrett really believes in his system. He is trying to prove he can make it work.

It is time for someone to sit him down and tell him to knock it off. For whatever reason, injuries, personnel mismatches, or just maybe it not being as good a system as he thinks, it is failing, week after week. It's time to try something different. Well, he is getting forced into some things, such as having to put Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley out there. I hate to see personnel changes because of injury, but these both may have been long overdue.

And the team has not given up. They feel like they still can accomplish something this season, if they can just put some wins on the board. They can put some points up, as they showed in the second half comeback against Washington. The question has to be asked if the coaching is holding them back. At this point, the answer seems to be yes.

It is not something I expect everyone to agree with, but I think this team needed to hit this point. They have been muddling along, talking about just needing to get things together. Jason Garrett is still kind of saying that, which is why I think he needs a little more shaking up. There needs to be a little desperation out there, and a clear message that there are a lot of decisions coming about who will and who will not be with the team after this season.

One way or another, I think the Cowboys will be forced into making some hard choices, and I think they will work out. Not this year, but I think the team will make a move in 2013. If I am wrong, and things don't go better, then Jerry will have to decide if he made the right move after the 2010 season. But there are still five games to be played this year. I will be looking for how the coaches and players respond. I expect some further changes, and I expect to like them. I may be wrong, of course, but that would not exactly shock the world.

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