My high school geometry teacher, Mr. Ellison, was always talking about "roots." The fact that he pronounced the word to rhyme with "foots" made his lectures and tutorials eminently more memorable, entertaining and effective. With a salute to Mr. Ellison, here's my "root" cause explanation for the Cowboys' 1-5 record.
Can't stop the run.
Easy, friends. I didn't say that was the 'Boys' only problem. Yes, I know the Dallas secondary can't cover a couch. Yes, I know the O-line was over the hill even before this season's attrition (by the way, lotsa luck to ya, Phil Costa). Yes, the team has produced more flags than the Longhorn Band. Granted, the kickoff coverage unit seems to magnetically repel opposing return men. Agreed, Jason Garrett sometimes appears to call plays like he's ordering spring rolls off a Chinese menu. But, the core issue, the "root" problem is....
Can't stop the run.
Hear me out. It's true that the NFL is now a passing league. But if a defense can't stop the run, then anything else it can do becomes largely irrelevant. Great pass rushing D? That's negated if the opposing offense is consistently looking at second and manageable. Exotic blitzes? So what, if the other guys' RBs are able to run past it and into the secondary.
Watch out! Incoming! I think I'm still feeling the breeze of Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Chris Johnson and Arian Foster (yeah, I know we won that one) galloping untouched into Wide Open Spaces. That, more than any other single reason, is why this team is 1-5, and could now with the loss of Romo be 3-13 waiting to happen.
Feeling real confident about getting MJD under control tomorrow? Dude could wind up with 140.
How'd this happen? It's all cosmically connected. Jay Ratliff is still a good player. But he's not what he was a year ago. Block the nose, beat the 3-4. Bradie James and Keith Brooking are getting close to being All Hat and No Cattle. Cowboys can't play a zone defense on a bet. Well played zones do two things--they generate turnovers and they stop the run, since all defenders are facing the ball instead of running with their backs turned in man coverage. It's hard to tackle a ballcarrier you don't see. Finally, it's difficult to tackle anybody if you never once do it in training camp.
Can't stop the run. Ergo 1-5.
Two other drive-bys before I lock in on the final college football Saturday of my favorite month. Apparently, some Cowboy defensive players were offended by the suggestion that they quit Monday night vs. the Giants following the injury to Romo. The truth hurts. Eye in the sky don't lie, and neither do my eyes. You quit. Get as offended as you choose to.
And pardon me for rolling my eyes at all the "Let's see what Stephen McGee can do" drivel. I know what Stephen McGee can do. For the record, I like him very much, both as a person and an athlete. But this ain't Pop Warner or CYO, and this ain't about "giving little Johnny a chance." I still want my team trying to win football games. And the fact is that Jon Kitna, for all his limitations, gives the 'Boys their best chance to do that.
That's my "root" analysis. Happy Halloween, ghouls and goblins.