It just hasn’t been the best of times for the Cowboys since the clock went 0:00 in the Divisional round of last season’s playoffs. From the tumultuous offseason to the last five weeks, the Cowboys have just been in a funk. At 2-3, this team is facing so many questions on and off the field. Their bye week came and went with just more added dramatics to the mix.
First, you had the release of Nolan Carroll, who just wasn’t getting the job done. The Cowboys also had Stephen Paea retire after he couldn’t practice for the past several weeks dealing with ongoing knee issues that may be degenerative. In the middle of it all were the owner’s comments and then the vacancy of the preliminary injunction for Ezekiel Elliott.
Of course, Tuesday’s news of another temporary restraining order being granted for Ezekiel Elliott in a New York court allows for Elliott to play against the 49ers this Sunday. This essentially starts over the process of Ezekiel Elliott’s court case.
Still, the Cowboys are 2-3 and that includes everything that was stated above. This team is struggling as an on-field product and that’s where everyone will be focused when this season is over. Does anyone really feel that the Cowboys are as poor as their record would suggest? The NFL is proving that nothing is ever for sure.
The Cowboys are 2-3 because of the ways they have lost these football games. Before the bye week, we established that the Cowboys just don’t know how to close out games. They’ve been outscored 76-47 in the second halves of football games this year. Are you kidding? That’s not the Dallas Cowboys that we came to know last season.
Whether it’s been youth, inexperience of the defense, attrition, or slow starts on offense, the Cowboys haven’t put forth a quality performance for four quarters of any game. They have been the exact definition of inconsistency. Maybe some distractions have been helpful in keeping the Cowboys from doing what they do best but excuses don’t matter in the end. No matter what it is, the Cowboys have 11 games left and they could have it all if they want it. Everything is still well in front of the Cowboys but they’ll have to show they can seize the opportunity.
You see, this isn’t the 2015 Cowboys that were waiting for Tony Romo to return, with everyone thinking that if Romo was back, they could go out and dominate. That was nothing more than a pipe dream that wasn’t going to happen. These Cowboys are still so young and hungry, someone needs to remind them of that.
After a bye week like they had, they cannot come out and fold up inside because that’s what folks are probably expecting of them. If you watched the landscape of the NFL during this week’s absence for the Cowboys, it doesn’t matter what the NFC East teams did. The Eagles won, the Giants won, the Redskins won, but other NFC heavyweights like the Packers and Falcons lost.
The Dallas Cowboys want to be an NFC heavyweight and they have to see an opening here. Maybe the Eagles and Redskins are for real but the Cowboys have games left with them to settle that issue. The Cowboys have to see that they have San Francisco coming up, a team that is 0-6, but before the college fans talk about who should beat who, this is the NFL.
The 49ers are competitive, only allowing one team, the Panthers, to blow them out 23-3. This 49ers team has averaged losses of less than three points since that game. If the Cowboys mess around, they’ll be the first team to lose against this 0-6 team. Style points never matter in the NFL, a win is a win, plain and simple. The 49ers have been able to compete with the Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, and Redskins. The Cowboys cannot take any team lightly.
The good news is that under Jason Garrett the have been at least able to keep a single-minded focus on the task at hand. This team now enters their gut-check time because it’s not getting easier after this upcoming game. Ezekiel Elliott has said that this team would hope to peak later rather than early in the year. Well, now they don’t have much of a choice.
The Dallas Cowboys are better than the football team we’ve seen over the past two weeks. Maybe other folks don’t believe so but I sure do and the great Bill Parcells once said that Thanksgiving was the point in which you are who you are. We’ll find out over the next five weeks exactly what this Cowboys team is going to be in 2017. The bye week blues are over, now the Dallas Cowboys must respond. As Garrett would say, it’s time to show some mental toughness for these young Cowboys.