The 2015 Dallas Cowboys season has been an unmitigated disaster. They are on a monumental slide, giving up the lead in four straight games for the first time in franchise history. They are half a game from having the worst record in the NFL. The internet, and BTB in particular, is alive with stories, posts, and comments about how Dallas fans need to face the facts about their team. Some of these posts suggest solutions. Virtually all of them ask the question "what's wrong with this team and how do we fix it?" and, by extension or implication, addressing or answering that second question begins (and often ends) with "who do we blame for this mess?"
Allow me to make things worse.
Every answer to that question is incorrect. Every proposed solution is wrong. There is no fixing this by fixing blame. Replacing coaches, players, or even the owner and general manager will have no real effect on the problem here. The flaws are simultaneously bigger and smaller. They are, at once, through the whole team and nowhere. Take the most recent loss at Tampa Bay.
Dez Bryant dropped two second half passes that were easy conversions which the Cowboys had to follow immediately with punts. Sustaining either of those drives changes the entire game. He also made a weak effort on a one-on-one deep ball that he has made a career of turning into a touchdown. Even worse, rather than stepping up and making plays, he spent two of those three plays whining for a flag which never came. He HAS to be better than that. He gets paid far too much to perform so poorly with the game on the line and he certainly doesn't make his ranting against Jean-Jacques Taylor look any better, either.
So cut Dez? No.
And every player who has been an issue has also made plays. Cut them? Well, Dallas made some roster churn here lately, but nothing significant. Brandon Weeden has been done since Matt Cassel got here, Christine Michael never made an impact, and Corey White has appeared good, but has been inactive for two games. These moves are standard roster churn, not some plan to fix the team. The eyes of the brain trust, thankfully, are still long-term and not reactionary,
So allow me to suggest that the team is handling things correctly by keeping their eyes on improving, day by day, just as they always have. Take three minutes and watch this animation about blame. I'll wait.
I want you to pay particular attention to one phrase from that video. "Blame has an inverse relationship with accountability."
This is at the core of how Jason Garrett runs things. It's all over his press conferences and his attitudes. "We'll look at the tape and clean it up and get better." Garrett described Dez's locker room outburst as "a great learning opportunity." As I have said before, all these things aren't platitudes, but championship attitude. "We just didn't make the plays we needed to to win" is as concise and accurate a description of the problem as you are going to get.
As I gave evidence of in my last week's post, this team is not giving up. They are not lacking talent. The schemes are designed by the same people who were wildly successful last year. Changing for change's sake, for blame's sake, for, as Dr. Brene Brown says in the video above, "some semblance of control", is how things get broken and you end up with Joey Galloway trades and repeated 5-11 seasons.
The team is playing poorly. The solution, the ONLY solution, is for them to play better. They will.
And while this helpless, standing-on-the-sidelines watching while the team flounders is painful for us, imagine how painful for a competitor like Tony Romo? Imagine how much he must be burning to come back right now. But this is good news.
No, I am not about to predict the Cowboys will run the table into the playoffs. I am offering a different thing. Not hope, but perhaps peace.
Your Cowboys have fought. The season has been a bitter disappointment to us, and I'm sure much more to them. Yet they have never floundered. They will not give up. They will not surrender. Romo will not rest, but play and compete and lead his team back into winning ways, even if it's too late for this season. Remember just five short years ago how quickly the team folded without Romo? How badly they gave up? This team has not done that.
And the reality that we fans must face is that we should appreciate that. Dr. Brown's latest book is called "Daring Greatly" and her work is infused with the ethic in the speech from which that title is taken. It is a famous one, by Theodore Roosevelt, often referred to as "the man in the arena."
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Your Dallas Cowboys have been in the arena all the way. The futility, frustration, and failure they have encountered this year is the risk, and all too often, the recompense for daring greatly. We as fans, if we wish to truly partake of their highs, must also own their lows. As the saying goes, the other guys get paid, too, and sometimes they play better than you do. So the good news, as well as the bad, is that there's nothing to be done but move forward, learn, and get back on the horse and see if we can remember how to ride. Go to any rodeo and you'll see, that's what Cowboys do.