Dallas Cowboys Fall Back to Earth – Face Reality


Oct 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) in the huddle in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With the national media finally backing the Cowboys, and local fans finally attending the games, the Cowboys decided to give us all a reality check. They are not elite. Step off the ledge – they aren’t terrible either. They are flawed team who know how to win but aren’t good/smart enough to always do so.

The Cowboys fell behind early (as has been their custom this season) and struggled to keep up with one of the NFL’s worst teams. The Washington Redskins didn’t do anything special either. They didn’t even play very well. Colt McCoy made some plays but all things considered – he was pretty poor. The Redskins defense looked dominant but anyone who’s seen them play this season knows they are anything but.

This one’s on the Cowboys. Sure, it’s customary to strip credit from a hated opponent, but in this case, it’s all on the Cowboys. McCoy took delay of game penalties, underthrew wide open receivers, and completely ignored other wide open receivers.

The Redskins played like they had nothing to lose. They opted for the Zero Blitz early and often. They dared the Cowboys to beat their high-risk blitzing. The Cowboys could not.

Zero blitzing exposes the defense making it a Cover 0 that typically applies basic man coverage with absolutely no safety help. The Redskins telegraphed their blitzes so Tony Romo had a chance to identify his hot read every time. Instead, Romo ignored the hot read all too often, looking to break the pocket and find the bigger play. This KILLED the Cowboys.

Contrary to popular belief, the Redskins were NOT playing a game of chess on defense. They were playing a simple game of checkers – and the Cowboys couldn’t figure it out. As the game progressed they started showing blitz and then backing off. Again, this is not chess. It’s something EVERY team in the NFL does, EVERY week. Yet the Cowboys couldn’t deal with it.

Oct 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) lays on the ground injured in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

No adjustments were made in pass protection.

No adjustments were made to the hot routes.

No adjustments were made by the offensive line, Tony Romo, or the coaching staff.

No adjustments were made…

The offensive play calling was atrocious as well. Despite the Cowboys’ struggles against the blitz, they chose to throw the ball in far too many running situations. With a noticeably hurt Romo, the Cowboys chose to unnecessarily place him in harm’s way when the run game would have sufficed or even excelled.

Play calling is easy to second-guess after a loss, but come on – that was ridiculous.

Finally we must blame the effort. The Cowboys defense is not good on its own. Fans want to believe it is, but it just isn’t very talented. They have been able to make up for their weaknesses by playing with heart, energy, and execution. They didn’t have much of any of that on Monday Night Football.

The Cowboys offense couldn’t stay on the field and forced the defense to play far more than they were accustomed to. Even with the heavy rotation that Rod Marinelli employs, they looked gassed and lacked explosiveness. They missed four backfield tackles that would have killed or stalled drives that were otherwise extended. Combine that and the fumbles and they virtually gifted the Redskins their points.

The poor pass-blocking, the play-calling, the fumbles, the missed tackles, the over-pursuit, and the lack of pressure/containment on Colt McCoy, and you have a recipe for failure.

Oct 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) celebrates after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Redskins beat the Cowboys 20-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys team that was supposed to struggle to get to 8-8 this season finally showed itself on Monday Night Football in front of everyone. I hope they learned something. I hope the coaches learned that play-calling and lack of in-game adjustments all failed. I hope that the defense learned they need to play with 100% effort and execution or they will lose every time. I hope the offense learned they need to control the ball to protect the defense. I hope the offensive line learned that every team is going to be blitzing them now, and they need to figure this crap out.

It’s time to face reality for everyone on the Dallas Cowboys and throughout Cowboys Nation. The Cowboys are not a greatly talented team that can win at will.

They are a team with a strong O-line that found a winning formula.  If they can stick with that formula and play with intensity they can continue to find success.

That takes running the ball, converting 3rd downs (by taking advantage of blitzes), and playing with 100% effort. It’s a lesson every team needs to learn and the Cowboys will face their next test in less than a week. Now we need to sit back and see if they can learn from their mistakes.