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Cowboys Suffered Team Wide Collapse Against The Falcons

It wasn't one or two things. It was just about everything.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There are a variety of explanations out about what exactly happened to the Dallas Cowboys in the collapse against the Atlanta FalconsThe defense was unable to stop the Falcons to help out the offense. With Brandon Weeden at quarterback, the Cowboys hardly attempted to go deep, which could be due to Weeden, the receivers, the coaching staff, the coverage, or all of the above. After a great start, the running game went completely dead. There were questionable coaching decisions beyond the game plan for Weeden. Even normally rock-steady players like Tyron Smith made some crucial mistakes in the game. And the special teams, which have been really, really good so far, failed to get all 11 men on the field for the successful two point conversion attempt by the Falcons, making it all too easy.

There is a medical term that comes to mind: Total systemic failure. Although I am not a doctor, have never played one on television, and did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express, what I think that means is that everything sort of collapses all at once. For the Cowboys, that is what seemed to happen. Using a medical term to describe it is especially appropriate given that it is a seemingly unending series of injuries that led to this turn of events. Although there were no major injuries reported during the game, there were several times key defenders like Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lee, and Barry Church were off the field getting patched up. Rabblerousr detailed how Crawford's situation may have had more impact than was at first apparent in his weekly by the numbers article.

Although it is not something you can prove through watching video or studying the statistics, the Cowboys showed all the symptoms of being a team that was pressing too hard while reeling from the repeated shocks this season. They clearly were having to rely on backups at far too many positions, which just makes coaching decisions very, very hard to manage. Next man up is part of the philosophy for this team. That can only go so far, however. Talent still drives much of what you can do in the NFL. Right now, the talent barrel is being scraped pretty much all over the team.

Not mentioned very much is that the Falcons look like they are a very talented team. They are now one of the six remaining undefeated squads. That does not look like a fluke at the moment. For the Cowboys, they turned out to be the wrong team to face with such a depleted roster.

Jason Garrett and the coaching staff cannot do anything about that now. They may be catching a break as the Cowboys now face an 0-3 New Orleans Saints team that may not have Drew Brees available. This potential battle of the backups should give Dallas a much better chance of getting a badly needed win. But the Saints are going to be at least as desperate for a win as the Cowboys. It is not likely to be a cakewalk, just something that is more in the realm of possibility.

The most important thing for the team this week may be another one of those basic things that Garrett preaches, "do your job". Don't try to overcompensate or worry too much about the guy next to you, just go out and make sure you have your assignment handled. That is easy to say. With so many things that went wrong against Atlanta, it may be all that the coaches can really focus on. They certainly have plenty of things to look at from that game, but they also have to avoid letting it overwhelm them again. Things should get better as players come back, but it is going to be a gradual process. They still have to rely on the backups in many positions. Fans are calling for Matt Cassel and Christine Michael to get their chance, but those are not certain solutions, and in Cassel's case, it is highly unlikely he can run the offense better than a quarterback with over a year in the offense. Looking to bring in players through trades, an idea which has heated up as the Chicago Bears look to be starting a fire sale after an absolutely horrible start to their season, is also a false hope.

There is no magic solution here. It is going to take work and realistic appraisals of what adjustments can be made. It is also going to be a true test of character. Can the team keep its head up and continue to fight? That would seem likely under Garrett, but even so there are still so many very large obstacles to overcome. As a fan base, we were too optimistic going into the Falcons game, and the first half just fed that. Now we have also had a serious shock to the system. It is hard to say how we will do until we see what the next game brings. It is hardly time to give up all hope, but concern is completely justified. The kind of severe trauma to the system that the Cowboys have suffered will do that. And the worst part is that there is not a lot that could have been done to avoid so much of it. Time should heal many of the problems, but the question now is whether it can happen fast enough.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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