Kevin C. Cox
Can the Cowboys' coaches, players and front office get this season back on track or is it time to make like the Redskins and put up the white flag?
After a "very disappointing" loss to the Carolina Panthers yesterday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan addressed the press and said that the Redskins were now going to focus on next season, effectively hoisting a white flag on the season after losing their "must win" game against Newton & Co.
"Now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come," Shanahan said, via the Washington Post. "Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at."
"Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season."
At 3-5, the Cowboys find themselves in a similar predicament.
The Cowboys are seeing the 2012 season slipping out of their hands like a perfectly thrown pass that's dropped uncontested. Sure, they could always run the table and win their remaining games, but what are the odds of a 3-5 team winning eight in a row? Non-existent. After all, they are 3-5 for a reason.
Just like Mike Shanahan, Jerry Jones is predictably "disappointed". And the focus of his disappointment is the offense:
"Three-and-five. Three-and-five," Jones said after the game. "When you look at a team we just played at 8-0 then it's going to be very difficult to catch up with them if you look ahead and see how competitive this league is. ... I thought we could match up against this team and I'm very disappointed. " ... We had some guys do some good things tonight, although I will say this: I'd liked to have seen more bigger plays. They just made bigger plays than we did at the end."
That does not sound like a ringing endorsement of the offensive playcalling. And while Jones was quick to add that he continues to have faith in Garrett as a head coach, at some point you've got to wonder about Garrett's job security. Sure, he took over a team lacking talent and depth, and yes, the Cowboys are rebuilding on the fly, and of course the coach didn't miss this tackle or drop that ball, but at some point, it can't all be Wade Phillips' fault anymore.
Jason Garrett is now 16-16 in his tenure as the Cowboys head coach. Chan Gailey had an 18-14 record after two seasons and was canned. I know the two situations aren't exactly comparable, but still ...
The broadcast yesterday presented a comparison between Garrett and Mike Smith that highlighted some of the inadequacies that have haunted the Cowboys for the last couple of years: Since 2003, 49% of all NFL games have been decided by eight or fewer points. Garrett is 10-10 in those one-possession games, Mike Smith is 26-10. Granted, Smith apparently has the third best record of all time in those close games, but still...
I know we're all prone to overreact on a Monday morning, but here's the thing: It really shouldn't be that much of a surprise that the Cowboys are sitting at 3-5 and look like they're headed for another 6-10 record if things don't improve.
Here at BTB, we looked that the Pythagorean Projected Wins for the Cowboys after two games and after four games this season. Here's what the projections were at the time:
You may want to follow the links above to see how we collectively reacted to those projections at the time - it is both funny and disturbing at the same time.
Either way, today we sit here facing the prospect of another losing, or at least playoff-free, season. And there really is only one question that we need to figure out: Do you trust the Cowboys - the players, the coaches, the front office - to fix this thing? Or is it time to make like the Redskins and put up the white flag?