The Philadelphia Eagles have managed to pull off a miraculous feat. Even though they have split the season series with the Dallas Cowboys at 1-1, and both games were played before the halfway mark of the season was complete, they have done more than any team to lay waste to the Cowboys' season. Come 2016, the Cowboys should be looking for some heavy-duty payback.
It all started when Jordan Hicks, linebacker for the Eagles, came through on a blitz in Week 2 of the season and fractured Tony Romo's clavicle. The Cowboys went on to win that game, but things were never the same for the team. Since Dez Bryant was already out of action, the offense was minus two of its biggest stars, and the team was without its leader. Fast forward to last night and the Cowboys were battling the same Eagles team in a fight to stay playoff-relevant. When Jordan Hicks once again wronged a Cowboys quarterback by picking off Matt Cassel and racing for a touchdown, the Cowboys season was on its way to being bookended by the Eagles. And none of it was good.
Technically, there is still a season to finish and technically the Cowboys could miraculously pull off a run to the playoffs. That would basically require them to run the table and hope that both the New York Giants and the Eagles lose some games. I'd like to tell you that there's still hope in that scenario, but that wouldn't be the truth. Why? Because this teams' failings go much deeper than just missing Tony Romo. They find new and creative ways to lose football games. Sometimes it's penalties, sometimes it's poor special teams play, sometimes it's a defense that can't get a critical stop, sometimes it's a lack of turnovers. Other times it's a pop-gun offense, then at other times it's too much distraction during the week. The 2015 Cowboys are the masters of losing in many different ways.
Jason Garrett won't agree, but it's time to find out what the Cowboys have in certain players. Rolando McClain has not been the same player this year that he was last year. The Cowboys need to give some of his snaps to others like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. Are they the future in the middle, or does Dallas need to look towards the draft and free agency this offseason? Jeremy Mincey and Nick Hayden have done solid work along the Cowboys defensive line, but they might be progress-stoppers. Should David Irving and Randy Gregory be seeing more snaps? And the Cowboys need to decide if they are serious about Greg Hardy for the future.
On offense, there is a raft of players who are hanging around, but should they be? Is Gavin Escobar ever going to be more than a body? Is Christine Michael an NFL-caliber running back? I'm not suggesting that Dallas bench some of its starters, but they do need to start giving more snaps to some of the backups. They need to know what they have on the team, in game action, so they can make plans once the offseason comes.
As a fan, I'll never give up that little bit of hope that the Cowboys can still pull off a miracle, that the season isn't over even though at 2-6, it looks like it is over. And I'm sure Jason Garrett and the rest of the Cowboys coaching staff won't either, but at some point the team needs to think about the future.
The Eagles almost single-handedly made that a reality.