The curtain was finally flung open exposing the man pulling the handles and pushing the buttons behind the show that is the Dallas Cowboys offense. There have been hints and peeks offered to the fans before Sunday, but the catastrophe against the Packers served to reveal the root of the problem in Arlington.
Easy targets such as Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, Bill Callahan, and Monte Kiffin will correctly shoulder blame, but they were not on the field during this latest frustrating fiasco. Fans directing their ire towards the coaches are missing the true targets.
The defense is devoid of talent. Entering the game in Arlington, nary a football fan believed that the Dallas defense could be mistaken for anything but horrible. Besides Kyle Wilber (a 4th round pick in 2012), DeVonte Holloman (a 6th round pick in 2013) and JJ Wilcox (a 3rd round pick in 2013), there was not one Dallas defensive draft pick playing for the Cowboys selected after the 2008 NFL Draft.
Orlando Scandrick (2008 NFL Draft), Jason Hatcher (2006 NFL Draft), and DeMarcus Ware (2005 NFL Draft) joined Wilber, Holloman and Wilcox as the only Dallas defensive draft choices to play in the game against Green Bay. The veterans accumulated four solo tackles (all by Scandrick) and one sack (also by Orlando).
In a game where Dallas needed their veteran leaders to make a difference, Ware and Hatcher combined for a grand total of one QB hit and one assisted tackle: both by Ware. Defensive linemen thirty and over playing in December are proving to be as useful as poopy flavored lollipops.
George Selvie, a man sitting on his couch at the beginning of training camp, thoroughly outplayed Hatcher and Ware. Selvie had six total tackles (5 solo), a sack, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits.
If anything, the coaching on the defensive side of the ball should be commended for finishing the game playing with a team full of undrafted free agents. Of the 59 tackles collected by the Dallas defense, 33 were by undrafted free agents.
Due to the dearth of defensive talent, the Dallas offense needed to play well and win the game. Prior to this game, apportioning a lion's share of the blame on the offensive coaches could be justified.
Blaming Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan after witnessing the debacle that occurred against Green Bay, would be obtuse. After what was bared post game, it became obvious that the subversive element on this team wore a jersey with the number 9.
Many (including me) have supported Tony Romo throughout his development and during countless devastating disappointments, but this game against Green Bay was telling. Add the melt down in week 17 last season with some inexplicable play calls from the recent past, and Romo is looking more like a problem than a solution at this point in his career.
Garrett has been more forthright with information this season. The postgame conference and his interview this morning on 105.3 the Fan were extremely insightful. Jason bluntly stated that the play called on Romo's incredibly ill-advised pass that led to his first interception was a run play.
That begs the question: How often has Tony checked out of a run to pass the ball?
The answer has been obvious for quite some time. In every interview where Garrett has been asked about running the ball, Jason has answered that he believes that the team needs to run it with greater frequency. Bill Callahan has also repeatedly noted that he believes in a balanced offense.
In a situation where the only call was to run the ball on 2nd down and 6 to make Green Bay use their final time out, Romo checked to a pass. Then instead of making a safe pass, Romo threw behind Austin, leading to an interception.
This is the product of changing the offense to cater to Romo's "talents". When Jerry Jones gave Tony $100 million to play in Dallas, he made Romo the most important person in the organization. To ensure that his investment was utilized to its fullest, Jones insisted on having Romo involved in play calling. At the time, Jerry explained the decision as a method to keep Tony from "drawing up plays in the dirt".
This typically cryptic remark from Jones now becomes clearer. Romo has been changing plays and improvising the offense for quite some time. Instead of limiting this practice, Jones hoped to provide a structure to guide it.
It may be argued that Garrett has been neutered and as such should be dismissed following the season. What would that solve?
At this point, I hope Garrett is released to win multiple Super Bowls with an organization that can conduct itself appropriately. It would not surprise me to see Jason join the New York Giants and lead a revival as Belichick did after leaving the dumpster fire that was Cleveland.
Callahan made the correct call, and Jason relayed it to Tony, marking his approval. Romo changed the call without consulting with anyone. It was obvious that DeMarco Murray was not pleased with the audible. How many other players were upset by Tony's untimely change in strategy?
How often has this occurred?
Having the highest paid, most notable player on the team sabotaging wins with poor throws, abysmal decisions, and horrible play calls is catastrophic. For the quarterback to waste the efforts of most of the other players through selfish, poorly constructed ideas negatively cascades throughout the team. That the player has been made untouchable by the owner is exceedingly demoralizing.
Just ask Shanahan and Snyder...