Despite all my best efforts to prevent it, my knee keeps jerking. When a writer is a fan first, he has the liberty to throw the mythical notion of objectivity out the window and just say what he thinks or feels.
After a loss like the one the Dallas Cowboys suffered at the hands of the overmatched-but-still-victorious Washington Redskins, a fan/commentator finds it nigh impossible to keep his knee-jerking under control.
So, then I ask myself: Why bother? And I cannot give a decent answer.
Therefore, I shall proceed to knee-jerk like a spastic, freshly-murdered corpse whose nervous system hasn’t quite reconciled itself to its new condition. And, since everyone loves a list, I will do it in orderly fashion.
I can count on one hand the reasons the Cowboys lost to the Redskins and on the other hand I can count the reasons Jerry Jones’ dream of his team becoming the first in NFL history to play a home game for the Super Bowl is only slightly more likely than Texas Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington speaking the King’s English in a post-game press conference.
Five Reasons the Cowboys Lost to the Redskins
- Wade Phillips. Wade is a brilliant defensive coordinator whose defense, once again, played brilliantly. The Redskins’ offense hasn’t scored a TD on Wade’s boys in three games. It is a beautiful thing to have a bona fide x-and-o genius coordinate your defense…unless you also give him the keys to the head coach’s office. That call at the end of the first half, the one that called for a hail mary or something insane like that, the one that every peewee football coach in captivity knew should have been a kneel down, was one more in a long line of firable offenses. But Wade won’t be fired. He is too good at being Jerry’s hand puppet. I know that many will blame Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett for the call, and I am sure he shares in it. But any head coach worth his salt has to know to veto such a bonehead move…and have the mettle to do it.
- Jason Garrett. Yes, Garrett gets his share of the blame, and not just because of the blunder at the end of the first half. His play-calling mixed the genius of innovation with the miracle of the absurd. From calling nothing but three-step drops and quick screens to opting for a halfback pass near the opponent’s goal line, Garrett displayed a total lack of confidence in his prize collection of stellar offensive talent.
- Alex Barron. There is a reason a first-round left tackle is available for trade. There is a reason the guy wasn’t good enough to be on the lowly St. Louis Rams’ squad. Simply stated: He sucks. He was caught holding three times in the ballgame, and every time mattered, but none mattered quite so much as the time he nullified the winning touchdown pass on the game’s final play.
- Brian Arakpo. The defensive end-turned-outside linebacker was a tour de force. He wreaked some pretty good havoc and caused match-up problems for both of the offensive tackles, especially the knucklehead Barron.
- Mike Shanahan. Somehow, Shanahan navigated the treacherous waters of unhappy 100 million dollar giant defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, successfully introduced a new 3-4 scheme defense, and got just enough out of his offense to score an unlikely opening day upset victory over the hated Cowboys. There have been worse coaching debuts, for sure.
Five Reasons the Dallas Cowboys Are Not Likely to Become the First Team to Participate in a Super Bowl at their Home Stadium
- Wade Phillips. After the devastating loss, a battle-weary and beaten-down Phillips faced the media. He accepted the blame for the disastrous last play of the first half, the one that resulted in a turn-over and touchdown for the Redskins. But then he proceeded to ease that blame over to the player, saying how silly it was for Tashard Choice to be fighting for an extra yard on such a play. Blame-shifting and excuse-making have been hallmarks of Wade Phillips’ tenure in Dallas. As long as that remains the case, it is highly unlikely he will ever lead this or any other team to the ultimate prize. Moreover, his team often seems unprepared on game day, too mistake-prone, and sometimes downright shell-shocked.
- Jason Garrett. If the object of the game was to rack up as many yards between the twenty yard lines as possible. Garrett’s offense would be the most dominant in the league. But it isn’t. His erratic play-calling and poorly-timed trickeries more often than not result in field goal opportunities, punts, or turn-overs. He continues to show flashes of brilliance, but seems mostly incapable of designing an offense that finds a groove and stays in it. He often seems to outsmart himself.
- The Offensive Line. All that firepower the Cowboys tout— i.e., the three-headed running monster, the Miles Austin-led receiving corps, all that talent at tight end, the supremely gifted Tony Romo at quarterback— means absolutely nothing if your offensive line cannot dominate the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys are trying to hold on until Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo get back from injury. But these guys aren’t spring chickens and even when they return, there is no guarantee they play at the high level they are accustomed to, nor is there any assurance they won’t be plagued by an injury recurrence.
- David Buehler. This kid has a cannon for a leg. There is no arguing that fact. As a kickoff specialist, he is a weapon. He can even clean up behind his kick coverage team and make spectacular tackles when necessary.He remains, however, a huge question mark in the field goal department. He made nine of ten kicks in the preseason. But this is not preseason and he is Oh! for one after missing a 34-yard attempt Sunday night.
- The Green Bay Packers. The Packers did not play well in Philadelphia. Aaron Rodgers did not have a great day and admitted as much after the game. The played poorly. But…they won over a lesser opponent! The Cowboys faced an even more vulnerable opponent in the Redskins. The Cowboys didn’t have their A game either…and they lost. Good teams lose games they should win. Great teams win games they should probably lose.
Hey, I know. It is only week one and I have already admitted that this article is a classic example of disgruntled fan knee-jerking. My overreaction, however, does not mean there is no reason for concern. I am not yet ready to raise the white flag of surrender. But I sure see some red flags when I look at this team, not to mention a few too many yellow ones.
This is, I know, just one loss in a 16-game season. I am not quite ready to declare Fed Ex Field Wade Phillips’ Little Bighorn. I do believe, however, that if he doesn’t find a way to get this team to play to its potential, the 2010 season may well be his last stand.
I know it should be.