8-8, Three Years Straight

Despite a valiant effort by a team that was hit hard by the injury bug, the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a week 17 matchup. With a win, the Cowboys would be back at home next week playing against the New Orleans Saints in the wild card round of the playoffs. The reason this team has lost some of their games this year has been their defense. But in today’s case, Dallas’ offense could not get the job. It was not until the middle of the fourth quarter before the Cowboys started to throw the ball downfield. Kyle Orton threw a game-ending interception to Brandon Boykin with under two minutes remaining.

This defense started out slow, but they played their hearts out under much pressure. Coming in against the league’s best rushing offense, the Cowboys only gave 120 yards on 25 carries to LeSean McCoy. This defense only allowed 24 points against a team that was the second highest scoring offense. The defense also had 5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. This showing was their best since their last meeting against Philadelphia.

With the loss, the topic of Jason Garrett’s job status comes up again after another 8-8 season. One play Cowboys fans will be talking about is one 4th & 1 in Philly’s territory. Instead of giving the ball to Murray on a short-yardage play, Garrett dialed up a call for Orton to roll out and throw the ball to Murray. The ball was batted down, and the Eagles drove down the field immediately for a touchdown. The opportunities were there for a team that was playing with their backup quarterback and a 32nd ranked defense against a team that was a top 3 offense. Guys like Jarius Wynn & Everette Brown stepped up when needed to. Jason Hatcher & DeMarcus Ware came up big too. This was the first time in awhile the pair clicked as well as they did.

With the offseason approaching rapidly, the Cowboys will look to get healthy and to assess their team in free agency and in the NFL Draft. Guys like Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher will be assessed this upcoming offense. Obviously, the Cowboys would love to keep the three. But, Austin & Ware have missed time due to injuries and both are not giving the same production as they have in the past. Spencer is probably as good as gone because he will command a lot of money. In Hatcher’s case, the Cowboys may not have the money to keep their defensive tackle. Even if they do, it will be hard for the Cowboys to spend a lot of money on a defensive tackle who is already 31 years old.

This offseason will be crucial for the Cowboys. It is important that the Cowboys have a good draft, so they

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

address weaknesses across this team. As I said earlier, there has not been a team that has been more hit by injuries than the Cowboys. To compete next year, this team has to get healthier. This starts with Sean Lee. The Cowboys have to get their best defensive player on the field at all times. Jerry Jones has a lot of key decisions to make. He will definitely be very busy this coming offseason.

Follow me on Twitter: @ryanrattyDFW

Tags: DeMarco Murray Demarcus Ware Dez Bryant Jason Garrett Jason Hatcher Jason Witten Kyle Orton Tony Romo

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