Cowboys In Better Shape Than It May Seem


The Dallas Cowboys have lost five consecutive games dating back to Week 3 this season, and yet things just aren’t as bad as they seem.

What exactly were you expecting when you knew that starting quarterback Tony Romo and primary wide receiver Dez Bryant were lost for a big chunk of the season in September?

Be honest.

Were you hoping for a split between wins and losses until Romo came back?

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Did you think that Bryant would return with a 10-catch, 150 yard performance?

Was backup quarterback Brandon Weeden going to set this team up for the postseason?

To start with, I’ll concede that this season has been among the least exciting things I’ve ever watched where Cowboys football is concerned. I have to keep reminding myself that preseason really is over and that these games actually count. What else would one think, even for a fleeting moment, as the Cowboys failed to score touchdowns in consecutive home games with two different quarterbacks?

The reality is that Dallas is probably better positioned now to start winning games than they’ve been all year – remember that the season-opening win over the New York Giants was anything but convincing.

Back to the bench is Weeden and his inability or lack of willingness to throw the ball down field.

Also erased from the equation is one-time starting running back Joseph Randle and his penchant for legal issues and the theft of underwear. His release on Tuesday is a distraction that won’t be missed.

The Cowboys are 2-5, but the next few opponents are anything but world-beaters, if you’ll take a close look.

If you’re a member of the ‘doom and gloom’ portion of Cowboys Nation right now, check these thoughts from Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin. Few put things as squarely as he does, and he certainly recognizes what I did following that aggravating loss to the two-time defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks last Sunday in Arlington.

"But the Cowboys won’t see a team the caliber of the Seahawks in the next three weeks. They are at home against Philadelphia and then visit Florida for games against the Buccaneers and Dolphins — all clubs with sub-.500 records. All are beatable."

Think about that for a moment before saying out loud and with a straight face that you think that practice squad quarterback Kellen Moore should become the fourth passer to start a game for the Cowboys this season – Moore has never played in an NFL game during his four seasons in the NFL.

Simply put, Moore isn’t the spark that the Cowboys need on offense.

Current starter Matt Cassel hasn’t played bad football, at least beyond those three interceptions in his season debut on Week 7 in New York. Even during that loss, Cassel made a few big time throws that Weeden never made during his brief run under center.

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Cassel was rather solid behind a dedicated rushing attack against the Seahawks on Sunday that more than kept Dallas in the football game until the very end. The bigger question was why the heck did the NFC representative in the last two Super Bowls have to settle for a wimpy, one-point victory over a Cowboys team playing with its third quarterback this season?

You think the effort put forth by the Cowboys over the last two games is good enough to beat either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Well, I don’t know about the latter, but I’ll bet the Cowboys can handle the former this coming Sunday night at home. You remember what the Cowboys defense did to the Eagles on Week 2 without pass rushers Greg Hardy or Randy Gregory?

The reality is that the Cowboys have only been outclassed once this season. That grand sleeper against the New England Patriots on Week 5 is about the only game that Dallas never gave itself a shot. In all other games, the Cowboys have had something going really well, whether it was the dominant first half rushing performance against the Atlanta Falcons on Week 3 or the crazy pass rush during the first half against ‘deflator’ Tom Brady of the Pats.

No, things haven’t come together where wins are concerned and that’s certainly worth noting. If the Cowboys can’t win their next two games, there’s a near-certainty that the playoffs will be out of the question – unless, of course, the winner of the NFC East is destined to finish the season below .500, which is possible.

Otherwise, the Cowboys need to stay the course and let the pieces in place right now take advantage of a couple of very beatable opponents over the next two weeks.

Next: Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks: Film Review

If I’m right on that call, Romo could be returning for a date with the Miami Dolphins that could put the Cowboys in position to reach .500 for the first time since Week 4.