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How Much Of The Cowboys Dismal Season Was Caused By The Tony Romo Injury (Part I)?

The conventional wisdom is that the Dallas Cowboys simply can't get out of their own way without their starting quarterback. But six straight losses demand a re-evaluation. Would Romo really have made the difference?

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

This team is going to kill someone. Unfortunately it doesn't appear that person will be an opposing quarterback, or a wide receiver on a crossing route, and definitely not a running back being hit by Rolando McClain, who was quite literally being knocked back five yards by opposing running backs.

Not exactly the imposing force we were anticipating.

No, the Dallas Cowboys are going to kill an overwrought fan like me by their continual give-hope-only-to-smash-it play. I can think of no better microcosm of the last six games than the play of rookie first-round draft pick Byron Jones. After a dominating performance on the field, tackling, blitzing, deflecting passes and generally snuffing out anything in his area of the field, he quite literally tripped at the finish line allowing Jordan Matthews to run free and uncontested for a game-winning overtime touchdown. So much promise. So much good. Such awful result.

But this has become a pattern with this team and one that cannot be laid any further at the absence of Tony Romo. The offense was downright good on November 9th, with Cole Beasley having a career day and Dez Bryant doing Dez Bryant things with some great catch-and-runs along with an unbelievable leaping touchdown in heavy traffic. Furthermore, they literally matched every Eagles score from the moment Philadelphia took the lead until overtime. Answering scores are a hugely important offensive role and they filled it to a "t".

When playing with a backup quarterback, all you are really wanting is a chance to win games in the end. Dallas backups Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel have delivered that in five of their six games. But time and again, with the game on the line, some part of Dallas has shown up small. The offensive line has struggled at times. The wide receivers have dropped important catches. The defense and special teams have made huge, game-changing gaffes at the worst possible times, and yes, the quarterbacks have played poorly. But do you notice anything absent from that list?

Apart from Dan Bailey, who has been perfect this season, no... you don't.  This losing streak has been a team effort. Every single aspect of the team has contributed to it. Even stalwart veterans like Jason Witten have committed critical penalties to kill drives and certainly we were expecting more from the likes of Greg Hardy, Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden, and Demarcus Lawrence against an already suspect Philadelphia Eagles line which had lost their best player.

The fact of the matter is, that in every game there are key situations. Situations where good teams step up and win, putting the game away. Situations where bad teams don't execute to the degree necessary to win. Situations where Dallas has not only failed, but failed spectacularly on nearly every occasion this season. I see no reason to believe that Tony Romo being on the field would prevent these collapses. As those of us who defend Romo have said all along, he's just one guy.  He can't prevent a kick return touchdown or sack the opposing quarterback or make Terrence Williams finish his routes. But THESE are the things going wrong for this team. Yes the quarterback play has been sub par-- it always is when you are playing a backup. But the other players have contributed to the death of games here, and their contribution is starting to become overwhelming.

Tony Romo is back in a week, but what can we really expect to change?

More on that in Part II.

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