Now that Tony Romo isn’t playing anymore (again), the Dallas Cowboys are officially in garbage time, and probably won’t win another game this season.
At 3-8, they’re actually still in the playoff hunt, but let’s consider this: With Romo this season, they’re 3-1, losing their last game to the Carolina Panthers after Romo threw interception after interceptions for pick sixes before injuring his collarbone again. Without him, the Cowboys are 0-7. Matt Cassel is coming back, but it means a quarterback that hardly takes risks, hardly instills any confidence in his offensive line, and generally, the offense hardly manages to get any big plays going on.
Again, the Cowboys can still get something out of this season. Mathematically, they can’t be counted out of the playoffs, not even from losing another game. But it’s just hard to believe that a team had two months of close to complete impotence offensively, blowing game after game mostly because they couldn’t hold onto leads in the fourth quarter (most of their losses were like that) with an exhausted defense, can suddenly turn the page, especially when their confidence level is so low.
The NFL is different from other sports because of how short the season is. Teams don’t tank and don’t throw away games. The volatile nature of a player’s career ensures maximum effort in order to make the team next year and make sure you don’t get cut or there’s demand for you in free agency. But the Cowboys weren’t supposed to be in this mode heading into the home stretch of the season. This is for rebuilding teams, often trying to figure out if their quarterback is worth building a franchise around.
The Cowboys? They, on paper, had all the pieces to contend, at least in the NFC, for the short run. They’ll still have them next season, most of them, although tweaks and improvements are necessary. Playing for nothing, especially when the aspirations were so different a few months ago, make the finish to the 2015 season, unless a miracle happens, even more depressing for the team’s fans.