This season just seems like a bad dream that you just can't seem to wake up from, but it certainly is the reality that we as Cowboys fans face everyday. 2015 had a lot of promise and was supposed to be a year in which the Cowboys built on their 12-4 campaign of last season. That unfortunately hasn't happened and now the Dallas Cowboys may get a top five pick in this coming draft by the end of the season. It's just been one disgustingly huge nightmare and has pretty much been a leading story in a year where the NFL has been decimated by injury and bad play all around.
Other than the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, the rest of the NFL landscape has taken a pretty harsh beating and many would love to hit the reset button. From officiating to attrition, to backup quarterbacks and suspensions, the NFL has put forth some of it's worst production in some time. It just hasn't been a quality product and it leaves some us (including myself) just ready to start the offseason. It's hard to say that as we will always root for our respective teams with or without their best players but let's look at everything through the microscope.
Last night, we as NFL fans were treated to a 3-7 Baltimore Ravens team taking on a 2-8 Cleveland Browns team. It's hard to generate a lot of interest in watching that. Of course the game was a high scoring affair but we're talking about a game that feature quarterbacks by the names of Matt Schaub, Josh McCown, and Austin Davis. I apologize but that was not going to get me to tune in to ESPN's Monday Night Football. I'd rather have been caught watching WWE's Monday Night Raw. That's just the realization of what 2015 has been overall. A few months ago, I dared to suggest that injuries are on the rise and that the CBA could be something that needs to be revisited. That it just may be possible that due to practice provisions, players are no longer prepared for the toll of an NFL season.
Just look around the National Football League and you see a ton of injuries and season-ending injuries. Attrition has robbed the NFL of perhaps a really entertaining season with a very savory playoff outlook.
As far as our Cowboys are concerned we know the story. Dallas lost Orlando Scandrick in training camp and crossed their fingers until the regular season began. In week one, they lost Dez Bryant to a foot injury and Randy Gregory to an ankle injury. Both players are back now but missed some time and aren't playing at the level that was expected of them. Dallas then lost Tony Romo for eight weeks, lost all seven of their games, and were holding on to a sliver of hope for the playoffs. They lost their most productive offensive player in Lance Dunbar against the Saints.Tony Romo came back and they won but facing a short week was too much for them to handle. The Panthers throttled the team and knocked Tony Romo out for the remainder of the season. Now, for better or worse they are stuck with Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore the rest of the way. This is all very bad but they aren't the only ones, folks.
The Steelers are dealing with quite a bit of their own problems as well. Having lost Ben Roethlisberger on now three separate occasions, they also are dealing with season-ending injuries to their center Maurkice Pouncey and arguably best offensive player Le'Veon Bell. Their rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, are a bad team but are even worse without Joe Flacco, who tore his ACL and is out for the year. That's just one guy on the list as Terrell Suggs, Dennis Pitta, Justin Forsett, and Matt Elam join him.
The Green Bay Packer have began to stumble too without a few key players starting with Jordy Nelson, who was injured in preseason. Tight end and rising talent on the roster Andrew Quarless is out for the year and even Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of his Thanksgiving game but returned in a losing effort to the Chicago Bears. Andrew Luck is out in Indianapolis with a lacerated kidney. The hits just keep coming with over 100 players currently on injured reserve. If it's not injury it's just poor play.
Take Peyton Manning for instance, who has been dealing with a "torn plantar fascia in his right foot" but has also seen Father Time tap him on the shoulder this season. Manning has practically been benched by the Broncos having thrown only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions this season. He's also sits at 27th in the league with a QBR of 45. There have only been four passers worse than Peyton Manning and it's not good company. Five of his nine games played, Manning has thrown multiple picks.
There are plenty of other high-profile names cut down or suffering through injury, guys like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman.
Injuries are part of the game as we all know but I encourage you to take a look at Pro Football Reference's list and see for yourself. It's not a pretty sight but overall, the Cowboys don't have as nearly many players on IR than most teams. They just have some more important names than others on that list.
So yes, this season is a lost cause at this point but the Cowboys will hopefully recover in the offseason as will a lot of these teams that are ailing. The NFL is having a bad year overall and that sometimes happens. We have certainly found some holes that need to be plugged via the draft or free agency for the Cowboys. Yet, 31 other teams have plenty of stuff they need to fix. I can think of three teams in our division that need a ton of work in the offseason. I mean, when you can't put to death a 3-8 Cowboys team, that's a problem. Especially when you look at the fact that one team still has their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback on their roster. Things are bad, but as Dave Halprin said, now is not the time to panic.
We can just watch what is left of a dismal season in hopes to complete the amazing rebound next season with hopefully a clean bill of health. The Cowboys were snake-bitten in 2015, we have to face those facts. Now, they just have to finish as strong as they can and rebuild the contender we all know they have.