At this moment, it’s hard to think of anything but doom and gloom for the Dallas Cowboys. Two straight losses in which the Cowboys found multiple ways to self-destruct has Cowboys Nation in a full-blown panic, and the calls to dump Jason Garrett have come from far and wide. Jerry Jones has stated that a change won’t be coming for Jason Garrett or any of the Cowboys coaching staff. So where does that leave the Cowboys?
The emotional answer is nowhere. Watching the team play lately has most believing that they are a spent force and should be put down in a merciful act. That’s fair.
But then there is the other side of things. They are 6-6 and still lead a miserable NFC East. Their main competition, the Philadelphia Eagles, have been just as much of a mess as the Cowboys recently. For NFL players, making the playoffs is the goal, no matter how you get there. It’s probably unfair to expect them to quit on that goal. Besides, there’s always the “Giants factor” in play. What’s that? That’s the idea of being a very mediocre team during the season but suddenly catch fire in the playoffs and ride that to a Super Bowl title. That’s obviously a long-shot for any team, but the possibility exists and that’s what the Cowboys are now hanging their hat on. Jerry Jones was almost explicit on that fact when he discussed retaining Garrett for the rest of the year.
If that’s the case, and the decision is made on the coaching staff, does anything offer hope for that kind of miracle? Bill Barnwell argues there are positives for the Cowboys. He stops short of predicting a “Giants miracle”, but he does see this Cowboys unit playing better than they’ve shown recently.
Based on ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Cowboys are favorites, still, to win the NFC East at 62%. In some respects, it is kind of crazy to blow the whole thing up with those kinds of odds still hanging out there, unless, of course, you are in the camp that firing Garrett mid-season would improve the Cowboys chances of a miracle run.
Barnwell goes on to list six factors that favor the Cowboys not being done yet. One we already discussed above and that’s their competition, the Eagles, are as big of a mess, if not more, as Dallas is right now. Barnwell also noted that the supposed tough schedule the Cowboys are still facing is softening by the moment as both the Bears and the Rams no longer look like playoff material.
The rest of the case comes down to things like advanced metrics, the idea that both the special teams and the offense can’t play any worse and should improve, and the fact that the team has not quit on Garrett yet. The way that Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were still risking the bodies at the end of the Bills game is one bit of proof of no quit in the team. You could also argue that Michael Bennett’s outburst in the locker room and other emotional talk after the game makes the case that the Cowboys are still passionate about playing and aren’t ready to cash in their chips.
If you want to evaluate Barnwell’s case, go ahead and read it for yourself. There’s certainly a lot of doubt to the case, but the Cowboys are pursuing it anyway; they are going for a Giants miracle.
We are being dragged along for the ride.