Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones sat alone in is owner’s box as the seconds ticked away on his team’s fifth straight loss, this time to the Seattle Seahawks, 13-12.
His football team had just been anointed by Forbes Magazine as the most valuable sports franchise in the world at an estimated worth of $4 billion. Not a bad return on a $140 million investment. The only problem Jerry was facing – of his own making – was the cruel fact his football team was pretty worthless on the field.
In order to understand why the Cowboys are currently mired in their five-game losing funk – the fifth time it has occurred in franchise history – with little or no hope of it ending any time soon, it’s important to understand how it all happened.
Dallas had built the foundation of a dominant offense in 2014. It started with a young and talented offensive line that was anchored by three All Pros, four of if you want to count tight end Jason Witten. The team had their dangerous deep threat in All Pro Dez Bryant who always demanded double coverage or he’d burn you alive. And delivering that ball was All Pro quarterback Tony Romo. To loosen up the defense to open up the passing game, Dallas had its All Pro running back, DeMarco Murray, who had torched opposing defenses for 1,845 yards. Going into the 2015 season, the Dallas Cowboys offense was a defensive coordinators nightmare because it had so many weapons that had to be defended.
Little did any opposing team realize when the 2015 season finally opened that the Cowboy front office had become their best defensive weapon.
Jerry Jones and son Stephen decided to save a few bucks the past offseason and decided not to resign, or even franchise tag, their All-Pro running back, DeMarco Murray. When that particular domino fell to the Philadelphia Eagles of all people, it created a rippling effect throughout the Cowboy offense that would paralyze it for the 2015 season. The team’s offensive line had been built with Murray in mind – much like the offensive line in the early ‘90s had been built for Emmitt Smith – and without him in the backfield to power the machine, it came to a dead halt.
The Jones brain trust thought the ‘running back by committee’ option would be a cinch for them. Didn’t happen! With an inability to control games with Murray pounding away at defenses with 25 to 30 carries a game, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had to change his game plan. Dallas went to an air game and the consequences would prove to be devastating. The second falling domino came quickly. Dez Bryant went down with a broken foot in the season opener. The trifecta occurred the following week when quarterback Tony Romo was felled by going back for a pass against Philadelphia.
Goodbye 2015 season!
The Dallas Cowboy defense is not going to win any games for the team. Their job is to give the team a fighting chance to win every game. The upgrades of Greg Hardy at defensive end and the return of All Pro linebacker Sean Lee have had a huge impact. The defense did an outstanding job limiting the Seattle Seahawks, who have been to the last two Super Bowls, to a meager 13 points. Once again, it was the revolving quarterback door on offense that did this team in. Matt Cassel was a pathetic 13 of 25 for 97 yards.
To show you how far the mighty have fallen, Jerry Jones has been quoted as saying his team is desperate to notch their third win of the season. With a minute left in this particular contest, it looked like the Cowboys might do just that. They had the most accurate field goal kicker in the NFL with Dan Bailey, and booting the ball through the uprights from 50 plus yards was no big deal for him.
The only problem was Cowboy quarterback Matt Cassel. He had played miserably all game long. He led Dallas on only nine drives the entire game, and four of those ended with field goals. The backup was tasked with moving the ball just 45 yards to give Bailey a chance. Seattle was more than happy to help out.
After a ten-yard penalty, all Cassel had to do was utilize his weapons, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley (who had zero receptions for the game) or Terrance Williams to get down the field. He couldn’t complete a ball to any of them. In fact, instead of moving the ball forward, Cassel somehow lost six yards and the game was over.
The last time Dallas had a five-game losing streak was in 2010 when Tony Romo hurt his shoulder and was out of the season. With Cassel digressing instead of progressing, it’s a good bet that this team will be on an 8-game losing streak before the East Illinois product returns to the field.
That’s what happens when the dominos fall. The sad part is it didn’t have to be that way.
Cowboy Notes – Much maligned defensive end Greg Hardy slapped a Russell Wilson pass into the air then intercepted it giving the Cowboys excellent field position to go in and score. The offense couldn’t move the ball and settled for a field goal. This was the first takeaway for the defense since the Philadelphia game. Running back Darren McFadden managed only 64 yards on the ground after gaining 156 the previous week against the Giants. When McFadden burst around the left end for 25 yards in the third quarter, the Cowboys had the ball on the Seattle four. Only problem was rookie wide receiver was called for illegal motion. Dallas settled for a field goal. In the fourth quarter, Dallas ran nine plays for 7 yards. Seattle, on the other hand, ran 26 plays for 129 yards and held the ball for 11 of the 15 minutes. The heralded return of wide receiver Dez Bryant was much ado about nothing. He played in 48 of the team’s 58 snaps and managed two receptions for 12 yards.
– David Huff
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