Typically after every Dallas Cowboys game we discuss five winners and five losers from the contest. Every now and then we’ll adjust to have a different number one way or the other depending on how the game went, and we have adjusted as a result of Thursday night’s loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Dallas Cowboys franchise is broken.
Coming into the game as losers of two straight, the world highlighting all of their inefficiencies, this group of players failed to perform. It was sad to watch.
There are no more answers to be found. There are only sad truths and questions with no end in sight. Here is a list.
It’s time for Jason Garrett to go
I’ve been of the belief that it doesn’t make sense to fire Jason Garrett before the season is over. The Cowboys, even after this loss, still have a huge chance of winning the NFC East and therefore entering the tournament of infinite opportunity. I thought that they were at their best, as shocking as it sounds, under Jason Garrett versus any interim.
There is no way that is the case. There is clearly a lethargic and inept environment within the Cowboys locker room to the point that they got run all over by the weak offense of the Chicago Bears. Whether the focus is on the playoffs or not, a change is needed immediately.
The sad reality is that a decade’s worth of talent was wasted
We know now more than ever (perhaps 99.9% as opposed to 99.7%) that Jason Garrett will not be around much longer as the head coach of the Cowboys. Heck, he might not even make it through the weekend. That being said, as he goes so will a decade’s worth of football from this team.
Think about all of the players that played for the Cowboys in that span. Think of the players who’s careers are finished and never got to play in or win a Super Bowl, let alone a conference championship game.
Guys like Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, and perhaps even the team’s current stars along the offensive line were all at their greatest strength under this leadership regime. It failed them. They’ll forever be left out of certain conversations in football lore because of it.
There are way more problems with this organization than Jason Garrett
Let me be clear that I am in no way making up for Jason Garrett, but he was hardly given a great shot in his contract year.
To that point though, Garrett was given a shot for a decade. He had his chance. But still, Jerry Jones and the other points of leadership within the Cowboys brain trust gave a head coach - regardless of who it was - a first-year offensive coordinator (who was a second-year coach period), star running back with no training camp or preseason that was expected to be highly involved, a quarterback and receiver in contract years, and expected things to be totally fine.
Again, Jason Garrett deserves blame. All of it. But that’s a broken system. Change is needed in many places.
What’s more is that the Cowboys didn’t build a proper coaching culture
Franchise legend and FOX Analyst Troy Aikman said on the broadcast of this game that he couldn’t think of someone on the Cowboys staff that even deserved to be considered to be an interim coach if and when the Cowboys do move on from Garrett before season’s end. He’s right.
The Cowboys have a bunch of duct tape solutions across their staff where other NFL teams have strong minds and personalities that aid in their organization’s success. The Cowboys have somehow built a coaching structure that is completely centered and focused on the one person who’s game day responsibilities (kind of a big deal) remain a mystery.
This includes trusting certain coaches where they shouldn’t have
Defensively the Cowboys were a disaster in Chicago and a lot of that was because of their players that were supposed to be the core of that side of the ball. They folded. Badly.
The Cowboys lack depth on defense (everywhere really) and it’s because they’ve squandered draft picks on players like Taco Charlton (who is succeeding elsewhere by the way) and Trysten Hill. They entrusted such critical resources in terms of team-building to someone in Rod Marinelli that has seen the game pass him by. It was insanity.
There is perhaps no greater example of the team’s dysfunction than their kicker
Brett Maher missed his 10th field goal of the season in Chicago (in only 13 games) which gave him more misses in a single season than any kicker has had over the last four years. That’s with three games to go!
Dallas brought in kickers to work out early this week (despite their front office saying that they wouldn’t on the radio... another issue that’s wrong with this team) and ultimately decided it was best to continue with someone who was only one miss away from setting that mark. They purposely decided to live and die with a kicker who was at best a roll of the dice.
It’s a level of arrogance that is actually difficult to believe.
More than anything, the Cowboys bought into their own hype
Jaylon Smith swipes. Byron Jones does his pistol move. Ezekiel Elliott does the “feed me” gesture. The entire defensive line group refers to themselves as the Hot Boyz. No wonder The Star is so big, they need all of those conference rooms to further the business benefits of so many.
Perhaps nobody looked worse in this light on Thursday night than Jaylon Smith. Near the end of the first half he celebrated pass break-ups on first and second down (the second of which included an injured Bears player on the ground near him) only to get beat for a touchdown pass on third down, a play he thought went his own way so much so that he got up and celebrated it.
Smith is very quick to push his own agenda. He, like the rest of the team, filed on a night when they were all getting pushed around.
This group - coaches, players, ownership - all seemed to believe that this season was a foregone conclusion of sorts. They could show up, Ezekiel Elliott back from Cabo, and cruise to success.
The rest of the NFL outworked them, both in the offseason and through now a majority of their games. They are an organization that needs to take a long and hard look in the mirror before they make any changes.
The only question left is whether that self-realization will happen now or in three weeks.