Dallas Cowboys: Five Reflections On The 2013 Season During The Bye Week

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The Dallas Cowboys entered the bye week in far worse shape than any of us had hoped. Without an opponent to prepare for this weekend, now is a good time to relect on what we have witnessed so far during the season.

Although it is easy to dwell on the negative and overlook the positives when the Dallas Cowboys are stuck once again in the midst of a mediocre season, we do need to focus on both sides of the coin. The truth is that when the team is hovering around the .500 mark there is going to be plenty of both for fans to discuss. Let's look back and reflect on five things we have witnessed this season.

1. Travis Frederick was not a reach

If you will remember, on the first day of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys were the target of a significant amount of criticism for trading back in the draft and selecting the Wisconsin center. While there was speculation that the Cowboys could have waited and grabbed their man on the second day, with the way offensive linemen were flying off the board there was a very realistic reason to believe that he would have been selected prior to the team going back on the clock. Frederick reported to camp and from the beginning he cemented himself into the role of starting center and assumed the mantle of making line calls for Dallas. Along the way he has faced some difficulties but he has also managed to put to rest the naysayers. I ask you, is there any Cowboys fan out there who would like to give Travis Frederick back?

2. The defense is not what it was purported to be

What was believed to be a defense that would slowly surrender yardage in small doses while the team gradually tightened the noose to force turnovers, has turned into a scheme that has far too frequently given up large chunks of yardage on big plays. While the emphasis on generating turnovers has paid dividends, the rest of the time the defense has been unable to stop opposing offenses. All told, the Monte Kiffin-led defense is not getting the job done.

3. The Bill Callahan experiment has failed

Many of us were not happy about the way Jason Garrett had handled the play-calling duties in Dallas, but the move to hand over that responsibility to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan has proved to me that he might have made matters even worse. Far too often we have seen the Cowboys fail to establish their top weapons in game after game. By taking what the defense will give you, the Dallas offense has become a shadow of its former self. From my point of view, I would prefer a mindset of take what you need (and then some) from the offensive brain-trust in Dallas.

4. Jason Hatcher has been a godsend

Up to this season, Hatcher had been gradually improving in his career as a Dallas Cowboy. Although I had expected him to find some success as a key part of the Cowboys rotation on the defensive line, I didn't expect him to reach the heights that he has in 2013. On the field, Jason has been the beast in the middle of the defensive line that many of us felt that Jay Ratliff could have been. As a player he is having what is by far his best statistical year, but his biggest value has been what he provides as a leader. Hatcher has become the glue that has held the ragtag band of "no name" rushmen together for Rod Marinelli. He has also grown into a vocal voice in the locker room as he has stood up to address the team, and challenge his fellow Cowboys to saddle up and ride with him. If, as it has been speculated, this is Jason Hatcher's last season in Dallas; his presence in the locker room will be sorely missed.

5. Tony Romo has not been himself this season

While we may never know if it is simply by design or if there is something physically wrong with Romo; clearly he is not the same player he has been. The gunslinger of old, save for the shootout with Peyton Manning, has been replaced by a bus driver this season. That is not Romo's game, and of late he has been proving that fact. What was once a prolific offense that was capable of lighting up the scoreboard week after week now struggles to be anything other than lackluster. With the corresponding issues that the defense has been facing, the Cowboys cannot afford to be anything less than explosive on offense, and that means that their leader must be the gun-slinging quarterback that we all know he is.

There it is, folks: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Cowboys are on their way to another middle of the road finish unless they can find a way to turn things in their favor. While things have not been as bad as they are in Jacksonville or Tampa Bay; things are not what they should be either. There is still time for the Cowboys to get this season back on course, but the time is now.

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