Sunday, December 28, 2008

And so ends another disappointing season for us fans of the Dallas Cowboys. I must say I am simply amazed at how miserably this team failed down the stretch, once again. While it seems that the local Dallas blogs have targeted Tony Romo for failing to take his team to the promised land, I believe that Romo is far from the reason for their failures.

What I noticed in this game is what I have noticed in many games this year. The team, while equipped with tremendous talent, looks ill-prepared to face their opponents. Last week, against the Baltimore Ravens, Romo even admitted that it took them a full three quarters before the offense recognized what the Ravens were doing. Well then, what the hell were they doing during the week to prepare for Baltimore, if not studying game film? The Ravens did nothing in that game that they hadn't done all year and after 15 games, you would think Dallas would hve better idea of what they were doing.

At no time leading up to the game did the Cowboys even appear to match the intensity and desire of the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas came in knowing they needed to win. Philadelphia came in knowing they would. Ever since they lost that first game back in October (to the Redskins), Dallas has acted as if they could just show up and they would win. At no time did they ever play an entire game with the intensity and desire that many of their opponents have shown playing the Cowboys.

I do not buy into the theory that Terrell Owens, or Tony Romo, or even Pacman Jones cost this team the season. For one thing, if not for Romo, this team would be 6-10 at best. The three games played with Brad Johnson under center were offensive disasters.

What I noticed about this season is that there were three things that make me believe this was not going to be their year. I held my tongue in hopes I would be proven wrong, but it seems I was right after all. Number one, every pass that could have been intercepted by Dallas was either dropped, or just out of reach of the defense. In most seasons, a few of those passes would have found their way into the Cowboys hands. But it wasn't until game four before they had their first pick and they finished with a paltry 8 for the season.

Secondly, there were not only far too many penalties, but way, way too many penalties at the worst possible time. At lest once or twice a game, a boneheaded false-start or off-sides penalty would be called that would either give the other team a fresh set of downs on a third and long, or would kill an otherwise promising drive for the offense.

The third sign was the injuries. Unlike in recent years, this team suffered an unusual amount of debilitating injuries. In my lifetime I have never seen so many serious injuries happen to one team before. Not in Dallas, anyway. Throw in Pacman's suspension and it's a wonder they were able to field a team at all certain weeks.

Regardless, the truth is this team under-performed badly. After going 13-3 a year ago - and sending 13 players to last year's Pro-Bowl, great things were expected. In Dallas, it was "Super Bowl or Bust."

Well, they busted all right.

To me, and while I'm no expert - but I have been a committed fanatic for about 40 years - it all comes down to coaching. Wade Phillips lost his team today. They were unprepared and it showed. Last week, they failed when it counted the most. Today, they came out of the tunnel already defeated. As soon as things began to go against them, they folded like a cheap suit.

As I said a week ago, this team will not succeed with Wade Phillips as coach, regardless of what Jerry Jones wants us to believe. For Jones, it all comes down to money. He has to fill a new 100,000 seat stadium and he will not be able to by keeping the status quo. I know Jerry gave his coach the dreaded vote of confidence this past week. But I would be shocked if he did not make a change at the top. Jerry wants to win and he wants to fill those seats.

I do not foresee wholesale changes to the roster because he has too much money invested there. But this team needs a fire to be lit underneath it and Phillips is not remotely capable of the task.

This season is finally over. It's now up to Jerry to make sure next season has a chance.

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