Dallas Cowboys: A season teetering on the brink of disaster

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys reacts to a call against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 29, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys reacts to a call against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 29, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

With the owner’s quixotic fight against the NFL seemingly over, the Dallas Cowboys appear lost, chaotic, and ready to quit.

I don’t know why we talk ourselves into this all the time. We know better. The Dallas Cowboys simply cannot handle any measure of success. They have a good year (2014), then bomb the following season. Another good year follows (2016), but the same pattern develops. This is where we find ourselves in 2017.

A season that began with Super expectations looks excruciatingly close to imploding before our eyes. Think about it: just 22 days ago, the Cowboys were being lauded as the NFL’s best team after a surprisingly dominant win over Kansas City. A few early-season missteps were behind them. The offense looked like the well-oiled machine we got used to seeing last year.

Of course, the looming Ezekiel Elliott saga hung in the air like an acrid fart the whole time. And sure enough, when Elliott’s appeal was denied on November 9th, it set the ball rolling for what has become a tragicomic sequence of events on the way to 5-6 and impending irrelevance.

It’s tragic in the sense that the Cowboys didn’t have to do this to themselves. It’s comical in the sense that you have to laugh at it. Getting angry at this point is an exercise in futility. Any realistic fan saw this coming a mile away. But just in case you didn’t, allow me to elaborate.

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First, we learned that this team cannot draft for depth of any kind. Lose All Pro left tackle Tyron Smith to injury? Let’s truck Chaz Green and Byron Bell out there! The drop off is like going from an all-district senior to a freshman B-teamer. All the while, quarterback Dak Prescott gets to run for his life and look like a fourth round draft pick in his second year. Linebackers Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens out? Let’s trot out Jaylon Smith and Justin Durant! While Smith has played better of late, the drop in quality is significant. Durant, however, is just a warm body, lost against the run, overmatched against the pass.

Next, we’ve learned that this coaching staff can’t game plan under anything except optimal conditions. By that I mean having Ezekiel Elliott on the active roster.

It is acutely and painfully apparent how much this thing centers around Zeke. Sure, he’s a transcendent talent, but for the coaches to think they didn’t have to change anything while he was gone was incredibly naive at best, or criminally incompetent at worst. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, or Rod Marinelli. For long-time NFL coaches, they look like rank amateurs right now.

Without going back and looking at the last three games, I’m having difficulty remembering a well-timed screen pass. It’s a play they run to great effect with Elliott in the lineup! Why not try and blunt the opposition pass rush here or there? Stop allowing defenses to pin their ears back and come after Dak with impunity. Also, we’ve discovered that there is absolutely no improvisational panache attached to this offense. This is where a player like Tony Romo is missed. This iteration of Cowboys’ football simply doesn’t possess the ability to extend a play.

Finally, the most infuriating aspect of this season is the whole Elliott saga. Specifically, I’m talking about the timing of it all. Once it became apparent that the suspension wasn’t going away, why fight it? Why kick that can down the road until you can’t kick it anymore. I knew it was going to come back and bite Jerry in the butt. I used more colorful language on my Facebook feed at the time, but I knew it wouldn’t end well.

So here we are now. It’d be one thing if the Cowboys looked engaged and feisty in defeat. It’s easier to take a loss in the face of max effort. But that is hardly the case these last three weeks. In three successive games, Dallas has looked disheartened, beaten, and on the verge of quitting altogether.

But who’s to say anything changes if this thing ends up out of the playoffs? Jerry’s got his puppets in place and an ostensibly healthy Zeke coming back next year for the full season. Of course, this is provided he doesn’t beat any more girlfriends or expose any more boobs at the St. Patrick’s day parade.

Heck, for all we know, they might be secretly tanking the rest of the way in order to ensure the highest possible draft pick next year. This might be Jerry’s way of sticking it back to Roger Goodell in the only way he can. It is also the only way this whole farce could become any more embarrassing than it already is.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Why the Cowboys are a mediocre team

So in the meantime, we have three more weeks of Zeke-less football to endure. Barring a miraculous turnaround, it will likely be too late for any meaningful games. The Dallas Cowboys will most certainly be relegated to also-ran status by Christmas. But maybe that’s what we’ve deserved all along. So long as Jerry Jones can boast about all the image and glitz and glamour, the product on the field will never be the true focus.