Dallas Cowboys – Stuck in the Middle

Jason Garrett, Tony Romo

Mediocrity is a sin in the NFL. Being bad at least guarantees a high draft pick, while hovering between bad and good often leaves you in the same place, as long as no changes are being made in the spot that matters. The Dallas Cowboys miss out on the postseason for a fourth straight season, with a loss in the final, deciding game, coming for a third straight time. Some love to blame Tony Romo for these failures, but the fingers also point towards owner and general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett.

There’s no way around it: Three straight seasons of 8-8, losing each season in the final game against a different division rival to decide who makes the playoffs, is nothing but a failure. It seems that each year a combination of bad coaching decisions and Tony Romo meltdowns result in the Cowboys losing a promising lead they build for themselves, somehow managing to mess it up in crunch time.

Their awful cap situation and actually finishing second in the division promises that there won’t be too much change to the roster which is very talented offensively but struggling on defense because of schemes and personnel, and also promising a schedule that won’t be too easy for them to go through, playing against the Bears, Saints and 49ers. They’ve lost to the first two teams this season quite badly, and it’s hard to see them coming in as favorites against San Francisco.

Romo didn’t play on the final game, as the Philadelphia Eagles won 24-22. Kyle Orton did better than expected, but his 2-point conversion pass to Dez Bryant was deflected, and on the first pass of the final drive he was intercepted, ending the Cowboys’ season too early once again. It seems like it becomes more painful each time, as the Cowboys did very well in division play (finishing with a 5-1 record), but managing to lose five games by three points or less, losing a lead in three of them.

Jerry Jones

When things aren’t working out for a long time, it’s always good to look at the head and the man who makes decisions. Changing head coaches isn’t going to matter as long as Jerry Jones remains such a dominant decision maker. It’s not going to help the Cowboys reel in a big coaching name from the NFL or College, as Jones’ move to hie Bill Callahan to call the offensive shots and replacing Rob Ryan with Monte Kiffin backfired, with the Cowboys ranking last in the league in total defense, allowing 415.3 yards per game. Not the worst in history, but not far from it.

The problem sometimes with Dallas it’s that it doesn’t come down to the actual roster building, but to difficult to explain moments that ruin their seasons. Tony Romo in the Broncos or Packers games in the end; the decisions made by Garrett, or simply the defense being unable to handle injuries, and turning into a red carpet for teams who want to score. There’s so much talent there, and they even put up big numbers like Dez Bryant and finally DeMarco Murray, but something isn’t working.

In hindsight, maybe latching on to Romo and not going with a different quarterback could have made the Cowboys better, but not by much. He’s not Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but he’s in the next tier, maybe even the best of the rest on most nights. However, like the rest of the culprits, he hasn’t been able to raise this team above mediocrity, and at some point he’ll also be held accountable, because the man in charge of this failure won’t fire himself.

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