January 11, 2015. The Dallas Cowboys had just lost a divisional playoff game to the Green Bay Packers and optimistic attitudes were prevalent wherever fans supported the star. The Cowboys had done the unexpected with a team that many had projected to finish in the bottom half of the league. With some offseason tweaking a squad that had finished tied for the best record in football would be considered one of the contenders to participate in Super Bowl 50. The Dallas Cowboys were poised to embark on another run of gridiron success.
March 18, 2015. The above mentioned tweaking process received a much needed, if controversial, jump-start. Jerry Jones and the Dallas front office signed free agent pass rusher Greg Hardy to a one-year contract. A team that suffered from a woefully inadequate pass rush that magnified a deficient defensive secondary added perhaps the best pass rushing talent currently available in the National Football League. Greg Hardy became a Dallas Cowboy. Love him or loathe him, fans knew what Hardy would do between the sidelines and we all were certain that Dallas would be a defensive force to be reckoned with. Things were looking positive since one of the team's most glaring weaknesses had been addressed.
April 30-May 2, 2015. Hope grew into elation when the Dallas Cowboys were able to further address their needs on defense. In the first round of the draft defensive back Byron Jones was added to the fold. The woeful pass defense would get a much needed shot in the arm. Fans knew that the learning curve would be steep but few doubted that it would be too much for Jones. The Cowboys also added more to the pass rush when highly-touted Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory fell out of the first round and the Cowboys were able to secure his services as well. Adding insult to injury for the rest of the league, the team finished out the process by signing a third first-round talent, La'el Collins as an UDFA acquisition.
The 2015 Dallas Cowboys roster was shaping up to be an embarrassment of riches. Veteran Sean Lee would return from injury to lead the rejuvenated Dallas defense. The offense, even without DeMarco Murray, looked to be a juggernaut with the best offensive line in football, an All-Pro caliber wideout in Dez Bryant, Tony Romo as field general, and a Hall of Fame prospect in Jason Witten. Even special teams were solid behind Dan Bailey and Chris Jones. With that roster even Jerry Jones would be taken seriously when saying his team had the talent to win the Super Bowl.
November 15, 2015. We are left to wonder what has gone wrong. A team loaded with talent has fallen to 2-7. The sad thing is that it looks like things are falling apart across the board for the Cowboys. The offense has resembled anything but the weapon that we anticipated. Sure they have been hampered by key injuries to Bryant and Romo, but there also seems to be more that is off kilter.
The line has not performed like we anticipated. They have not been terrible, but they have not reached their potential either. In 2014 their play set the tome for the team's success. They have not owned the opposition the way they need to for the collection of running backs to approach the success that Murray had in 2015. Dallas is not dictating the flow of the game the way they did last season. The Garrett offense is stagnant and some of the blame lies upfront.
The quarterback situation is abysmal. Neither Brandon Weeden not Matt Cassel have been able to generate any confidence in their ability to manage a game successfully. Where once you could see that the players were confident that Romo could overcome any difficulty there is now a sense of here we go again.
When the team does manage to put up decent offensive numbers the defense cannot keep the opposition from doing the same. In 2014, with a less talented unit, the defense seemed able to summon up the will to do just enough to help the Cowboys get those critical stops in time to save the day. This season fans are left to wonder just how quickly the opposition will put more points on the board. When you are hoping that they give up a score quickly enough that the offense has enough time to answer then there is something wrong. Hope is not a strategy
All of this begs the question "What is wrong with the Dallas Cowboys?" Locker rooms are a fragile thing at times, and right now it appears to me that something is just not right in the one in Dallas. Something is missing, and I am not so sure that it does not pre-date the loss of Tony Romo. The Dallas Cowboys have not looked right to me since opening night. There is a fire that has been allowed to die down. For the first time in the Garrett era I see a collection of players where there was once a band of brothers. All the talent in the world cannot overcome that.
For the Dallas Cowboys to have any hope of success they must get back to what they had. A few games remain. It is time once again to come together as one collective unit; offense, defense, and special teams. Realistically it is too late for 2015 but the game does not end there. For the Dallas Cowboys the future is what they make it, but the future is now. Each man is going to have to dig deep and find something and let that drive him forward. Their greatest success will lie ahead in future seasons. The can become champions but to do so they will have to lay the foundation starting immediately Their future begins now.