Once Tony Romo went down on Thanksgiving, expectations for the Dallas Cowboys 2015 season were adjusted. It was a simple adjustment consisting of a simple goal - just play some good football.
The Cowboys had different plans. Even in the win against Washington in a game that was so exciting that it almost couldn't be decided in just 60 minutes - it was so hard to watch. I haven't felt that level of anguish since Cousin Oliver joined the Brady house. Why! Just Why!
Let's just face it - Lambeau Field is Dez Bryant's kryptonite. In a game that many thought would see an inspired Bryant look to redeem himself after whole ordeal in last year's playoff game, Dez didn't deliver. He would drop the hard ones, and he would drop the easy ones. The Cowboys invested $70 million for wide receiver who can perform at a high level. What fans saw on Sunday was something you'd find in a dollar store. Let's hope this performance was just an outlier because that was just the absolute worst. The worst, I tell ya.
Of Dez Bryant's 69 starts in his six-year career, his 9 receiving yards in Sunday's loss at Green Bay marked a career low for him.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) December 14, 2015
The Cowboys running game looked great on a few plays. Darren McFadden had two really big runs, one for 50 yards and one for 46 yards. Robert Turbin would have a couple nice runs too, including the Cowboys only touchdown. As Rabs mentioned in his latest "by the numbers" piece, the yards per carry numbers were extremely close to historic. But as great as they were with these big runs, they couldn't do anything in short yardage. Why is that? Is the opposing defense just using extra players to stop them and nobody is noticing?
The Cowboys defense has been solid in run defense for the most part this season ranking 15th in the league with 103.8 yards a game. But the Green Bay Packers running game torched the Cowboys for 230 yards. It would be their worst run defense performance since last year's Thanksgiving debacle against Philadelphia. Eddie Lacy had 124 yards. James Starks had 71 yards. And I think Dorsey Levens even ran for 31 yards. The easy excuse is the fact that the Cowboys pathetic offensive display kept putting the defense back on the field. Are you buying it? I am. Mostly because they made a lot of good plays before being overextended from constantly having to go back out there. The tackling got real bad at the end though. We're talking Neon Deion bad.
There is just no way this offense can be effective with Matt Cassel at quarterback. He's not the blame for everything that is wrong, but he is just not good enough to make the plays needed. It is frustrating to watch backups around the league play all right only to watch Cassel stink it up. Backups are backups, but geez - the Cowboys got one of the worse ones. And with every new game, he seems to be getting worse. It's like he's got Benjamin Button's disease when it comes to game experience. It wouldn't surprise me if by week 17, he looked like a youngling QB ready to make his first NFL start, preferably one from Boise State.
Even more frustrating than watching Cassel misfire was watching him be right on target only to see that the receivers ran routes that were just short of the first down. Why is this happening? Jason Witten has been so masterful at running precise routes his whole career so it's disappointing to watch him come up a yard short. He did that twice. And then since he was doing it, everyone else started doing it. Is that the play they are calling in the huddle or are the receivers not hitting their marks? Whichever it is, that's just bad football. Can you imagine the disappointment for Cassel? That's like going to the company Christmas party, only to find out your secret Santa got you a gift certificate to Arby's. What a rip off!
The Cowboys lead the league in false start penalties this season. With two of them on Sunday, they now have 24 on the year. With three Pro Bowl offensive linemen and a first ballot Hall of Famer tight end on this unit, why are the Cowboys struggling in this department? The Cowboys propensity to keep making these mistakes falls is an indication that the coaches are failing when it comes to getting these guys disciplined. It's just reached a point of ridiculousness and is inexcusable. If they are so hell-bent on leaving early, then why can't they just all agree to do it together so they don't get flagged?
Let's finish this off with something positive. Props to Lucky Whitehead for hanging on to the ball every single time Jeff Janis laid into him. Again and again.