These Cowboys Are For Real


It’s been a long time since the Cowboys offered such a complete effort against a competitive team like the New Orleans Saints. All phases of the game were dominated by the Cowboys, except for a brief 5-minute period when the Saints scored two touchdowns and tried to make it a game.

The easiest way to explain what’s happening with the Dallas Cowboys is that the great form of DeMarco Murray has allowed Tony Romo to not force his throws and, in consequence, we are seeing a well-balanced offense that can compete against anybody in this league. But that would be stating the obvious.

This has been a concerted effort that’s been years in the making. It’s not like it’s just happening. As much as we have criticized Jason Garrett in the past, we have to give him due credit for assembling this impressive offensive line. That’s where everything starts. That’s the reason these Cowboys are sitting atop the NFC East at 3-1, and that’s the reason we can finally say that these Cowboys are for real.

Yes, Murray and Romo are playing well; and yes, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and Terrance Williams and all the other skill players, are making the most of their opportunities. But it all starts with those 3 boring first round picks of the past 4 years. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zach Martin, are the reason this franchise has a bright future for the first time in decades.

That’s the genius of Garrett, right there; and remember that Jerry Jones had never selected an offensive linemen in the first round before (and he’s been around for 25 years!). Garrett understands how to deal with Jerry, and that’s why he’s invaluable to this team, because no other coach will do that better than him. And being in Dallas, with Jerry all over the place, that’s a huge thing.

In four drafts with Garrett as head coach, the first round picks has been Smith, Claiborne, Frederick (and Terrance Williams) and Zach Martin. You can see Garrett’s hand in three of those four selections. The other one, Morris Claiborne, may have been the worst bust in Cowboys history, and it had all the signs of being a Jerry’s decision. At the moment, it was hailed as a bold movement, and got the Cowboys in the headlines for a while making Jerry very happy. But investing your first and second picks in just one player is a risky move, and now the Cowboys are paying for it.

Garrett knows better. Garrett understands the importance of the boring players. It has taken him years to build the kind of team that he had always in mind, but it’s finally taking form. Imagine what could have been if instead of Jerry playing his typical wheeler and dealer self on that dreadful 2012 draft, he had listened to his professional coaches who actually know about football? We could have another offensive lineman or a much-needed pass rusher and maybe even a quality safety.

Sep 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In praise of…

As much as I like that offensive line, I think the most impressive performance of Sunday night was that of the defense. If you take a look at the statistics, they aren’t doing anything quite special, but there’s something in the way they are playing that makes you feel confident about them. They are hitting hard, all of them, all the time. There is still no pass rush, but somehow, they are getting the stops when needed. And maybe more importantly, they are starting to stack turnovers. If the referees hadn’t have it wrong for the second consecutive week, there would have been another defensive touchdown and the score would’ve been even more scandalous at 45-17, more like a true vengeance for last year whipping.

Finally, I like that Sterling Moore guy, and with Claiborne likely out for the season, there are no more obstacles for the top three cornerbacks in the team to start. I’m also starting to dream about a linebacker corps featuring Sean Lee, Rolando McClain and Bruce Carter. If they keep playing like they have this first four games, and if they can stay healthy, that could be a hell of a unit.