There are really only two possibilities that explain DeMarcus Ware being handled by a rookie left tackle on Sunday and recording only one tackle the entire game. Either his abilities as a pass-rusher have fallen off a cliff, or he is partially tanking to get himself cut this offseason in order to get away from this train wreck of a franchise.
The second option is nuts to consider. Ware has been a great guy in Dallas his entire career. Not just a Hall-of-Fame worthy defensive player, but the right kind of guy as well. So it is very, very unlikely that option two could be possible.
But lets at least consider a few things here. One, he saw Ratliff bail on this team. I can't say what pushed Ratliff over the edge, but there was clearly a very dysfunctional relationship with Jerry Jones at the heart of it. And the firing of Rob Ryan may have been the last straw. Now Ratliff is on a team with real playoff chances.
Isn't it possible, that despite what players say publicly, that the veterans on Dallas' defense never bought into the move to Monte Kiffin? We now know what a terrible decision it was to fire Ryan and hire Kiffin. These men make their living in the world of NFL defense and there is an excellent chance they could see this disaster looming. Especially after they saw how Jones handled the draft.
Now add to that the fact that Ware, at the end of a long career, was asked to play a position that would expose him to more intense, physical blocking, not less. Most teams seek to protect their elite pass rushers and extend their careers. Give them some early downs off, keep them as free from heavy pounding as possible. But Dallas basically said "we know your at the end of your career where injuries become an issue, but we are going to expose you to more abuse and we aren't drafting you any help, either. Suck it up."
Isn't it possible that at some point this season, Ware realized that he no longer could afford to play for this franchise? That they would shorten his career while wasting his time due to horrid personnel decisions? Don't you think he was counting on Dallas to get him some help along the line? Don't you think he felt betrayed by the way they drafted?
If you were in an impossible situation at your job, had zero faith in management and you were placed in an impossible situation to succeed, wouldn't you do whatever it took to leave and go work for another company?
Jay Ratliff seems to have done that. Ware is a different guy, but are you so sure he doesn't feel just as betrayed and hopeless about this franchise the way that Jones is running it?
If this seems too far fetched to you, then understand this. Dallas will have virtually no defensive line remaining in 2014. Jason Hatcher will be gone. Anthony Spencer will be gone. Jay Ratliff is gone. Tyrone Crawford is an unknown coming off of achilles tendon surgery. George Selvie is decent, but you can hardly point to him as coveted piece to build around.
Understand that Ware could have seen all of this coming. The firing of a defensive coordinator the defense loved, the move to a 4-3 without the personnel, ignoring the defensive line in the draft, the defection of Ratliff.
Now add to that the salary cap situation Dallas finds itself in. They have maxed out their credit cards. A purge of expensive veterans and a very lean couple of years to fix the books looms very soon on the horizon.
Given all of that, it isn't quite so crazy to think that Ware may be choosing to speed up the inevitable. Not completely tank, but hold a little in reserve. Try to stay healthy. Certainly don't run through a wall for a team that has put you in harms way and appears to be lost in the wilderness, guided by a geriatric, rambling owner who thinks he's a legitimate GM.
Is it really so crazy to think that Ware could be seeing things this way, given all that has gone on?