Five questions: Dallas Cowboys

AP

The Cowboys have spent the last three years treading water, having a chance at winning the division and ultimately finishing 8-8.  They continue to hope for better, but with no tangible evidence that the best is yet to come.

For the current edition of the Cowboys, the window may have slammed shut and shattered.

Before the glass flies in hundreds of directions, let’s look at five questions that will influence how bad it gets and whether it will improve any time soon.

1.  Is Tony Romo done?

Plenty of mixed signals have emerged from Cowboys camp in the last few weeks regarding Romo’s back after his second surgery in two years.  Dr. Jerry Jones has declared Romo to be 100 percent.  But he has missed plenty of practices, and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson has said that Romo has been inconsistent on deep passes due to the latest procedure.

Even if Romo can get back to 100 percent, he can quickly drop below that again if/when he gets hit in the wrong spot or twists or tweaks or does something to aggravate the situation.  Hall of Famer Troy Aikman has pointed out on multiple occasions that he retired at 34 due to back problems, not concussions.

Romo is now 34, and he’s had some serious back problems.  The end could be coming for Romo, sooner than anyone realizes.

2.  Will they really run the ball more?

The Cowboys claim that they’ll show a stronger dedication to the ground game, which makes sense given that they’ve devoted their last two first-round picks to interior offensive linemen.

But will they really commit to the run and stay committed to the run in a passing league that should have even more passing this year, thanks to the renewed emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding?

Then again, given Romo’s back, maybe they’ll be running just to reduce the number of instances in which he’s exposed to that next, and possibly last, back injury.

3.  How bad is the defense?

Last year, it was bad.  Historically bad.  415.3 yards per game bad.

This year, it could be even worse, what with defensive end DeMarcus Ware cut and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher departed via free agency and linebacker Sean Lee injured and cornerback Morris Claiborne underachieving and defensive back Orlando Scandrick suspended for the first four games due to a PED violation.

When the Saints had a similar disaster in 2012, they cleaned house.  The Cowboys have merely elevated defensive line coach Rod Marinelli over Monte Kiffin, keeping Kiffin on the payroll.  It’s a recipe for even more of a mess than the Cowboys endured a year ago.

4.  Is Jason Garrett finally on the hot seat?

Owner Jerry Jones insists yet again that coach Jason Garrett doesn’t have to make the playoffs to remain employed.  Which is a good thing, since the playoffs are a long shot.

Still, Garrett enters the last year of his contract with no security beyond 2014.  He’s a lame duck if things go poorly, a potential free agent if somehow things go well.

And if things really do go well, maybe Garrett will exercise his prerogative to bid farewell to the dysfunction he has experienced since 2011.

5.  What will it take to get Jerry Jones to get help?

Assuming that the Cowboys end up on the wrong side of 8-8 this year instead of the right, the biggest question facing the franchise flows from the owner’s insistence on not riding sidecar to the efforts of an established coach who actually has input over the construction of the roster.

More than a decade ago, Jones bottomed out, opting to bend a knee for Bill Parcells.  Once things were pointed in the right direction again, Jones decided that he no longer needed help, embarking on an effort to put the right talent and coaching around the franchise quarterback whom Parcells found as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois.

If the end is coming for Tony Romo and with Brandon Weeden currently serving as the team’s Plan B, Jone may once again need to admit that he can’t do it alone, that 25 years of on-the-job experience for a job he never had the qualifications to fill won’t be enough to find another franchise quarterback, to develop him, and to complement him with weapons on offense and some degree of competence on defense.

Many league insiders believe that Jones wants to show that he can build a team without deferring to a coach who would want to buy the proverbial groceries.  As it stands, however, Jones’ recent trips to the store have yielded plenty of rotten eggs, spoiled bottles of milk, and rancid packages of bologna.

45 responses to “Five questions: Dallas Cowboys

  1. They’ll buck the trend this year and go 4-12.

    Romo retires halfway through the season, Jerruh laments not taking J Fball and does his best Hugh Hefner impression.

    Book it! (as they say on pft)

  2. Use those incredibly slow and shaky sliding party bus window screens as a drawing board for a new plan. The ROI could turn out fantastic on what otherwise would be a depreciating asset.

  3. As long as Cowboy fans continue to buy tickets and merchandise nothing will change with the way Jerry runs the organization. As someone who lives in the DFW metroplex I know ONE cowboy fan who actually has quit spending their money on anything Cowboys related. If more people would commit to doing that I guarantee you’d see changes.

  4. 1. Not yet but is that really good news?
    2. No. They should run more but they will fall back to passing a lot and with this defense, they’re likely to be playing from behind.
    3. Pretty darn bad. If they could be ranked 33, they would be.
    4. I can’t believe Jason survived last season so who really knows?
    5. Jerry would rather drive and go off a cliff than hand the wheel to a better driver.

  5. This team will be a mess for a loooooong time. And then his son will take over, and this team will be a mess for a looooong time.

  6. Look on the bright side, that #1 pick next year might get you a franchise QB for the future. That defense on the other hand needs a complete retooling. Both Romo,-nod the defense are done.

  7. As a Cowboys fan, and thinking of the long term goal of sustained success, a season of 2-14 ball would actually be a positive if the owner fired the GM. A season of 6-10 and the return of the GM and the circus would be a horrific thing.

  8. The Cowboys are unlikely to go anywhere as long as Jones is the owner.
    He can’t stop himself from interfering with football decisions he isn’t qualified to make, no quality coach can stay in that working environment, and the players have no clear sense of who is in charge of their careers.
    Oh, and Romo has never been an elite QB, and is now aging and hurting.
    A mediocre team masquerading as a “contender”!

  9. 1. Probably. Look at Charles Woodson.
    2. If they’re smart. Nothing like a balanced attack.
    3. It’s bad. But it’s only the first preseason. But it’s bad.
    4. No matter what Jerry says, you don’t know when another puppet coach may come along.
    5. Look at your Deadspin pics of him in the bathroom with some chicks. The man thinks he’s on top of the world. Jerry answers to Jerry. Period.

  10. Looks like the grocery’s my Ex-Wife use to bring home – Rotten eggs, spoiled milk and rancid bologna…..thanks for the memories.

  11. “…the franchise quarterback whom Parcells found as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois.”

    Sean Payton found Romo during his time with the Cowboys. They went to the same college. It’s semantics, but it’s also the truth.

  12. I didn’t realize the seriousness of Romo’s injury. Jones will regret passing on Johnny Football if Weeden is their starter at any point this season.

  13. “…the franchise quarterback whom Parcells found as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois.”

    Sean Payton found Romo during his time with the Cowboys. They went to the same college. It’s semantics, but it’s also the truth.

    Actually think both are incorrect and believe it was the QB coach at the time David Lee. The other 2 just get the credit because they are more recognized names.

  14. I think the ‘Boyz are going to be terrible this year. I feel like Romo’s talents have been wasted down there.

  15. Independent of how good/bad Jerry Jones is, please cut the crap that Bill Parcells got the Cowboys “pointed in the right direction”. Parcells was a great COACH, but he always did a terrible job of “buying the groceries”, as he displayed in his time with the Dolphins.

    Parcells set the Cowboys back years by driving out some young players and bringing in veteran “favorites” who had no long-term potential with the franchise. And while the foundation of the latter part of the 2000s team was laid during Parcells’s tenure, he had NOTHING to do with it. Every time Parcells stepped in with a major draft decision (Marcus Spears, Bobby Carpenter), the team was left with pie in its face. Jones and others were actually responsible for “buying the groceries” that became the foundation of the team.

  16. The Cowboys’ problems started with and will continue with the team’s owner. Until he removes himself from all team activities except signing payroll checks, nothing will change. Period.

  17. Jerry should stick to what he does well.
    Oil and
    young quasi attractive entertainers.
    He has taken an innovative league raising franchise and turned it into an 8-8 factory and
    a circus (Barnum and Bailey aint got squat on this crowd).
    Gil Brandt wont admit it but I bet he chuckles under his breath every now and again… is what it is.

  18. Feel badly for Cowboys fans. I hate the Cowboys, don’t get me wrong. But I love Dallas.

    It’s impossible to build a team when the decision maker on draft day keeps making the wrong decisions. Jones has got to put his ego aside and bring in a proper, personnel man into that organization.

    Dallas fans can make it happen if they email the team en masse AND stop spending money on the team.

  19. Tony Romo at 100% isn’t going to win you anything.

    And this team has had overall top-10 defenses multiple times during his career so hearing the bad defense excuse is getting really old.

  20. The first 4 games are against good football teams. I will be pleasantly surprised if we win a game. If we are very lucky we split our next 12 games. That would give us a 6 and 10 season. If are not very lucky it’s going to get really ugly really fast. Frankly,I have some very serious doubts Tony will last 10 games. I also doubt he will perform at his previous highest level and if I am correct that 6 and 10 could easily be a stretch to be kind. Break out the Pepto this could be a very stressful year. There is a bright side. We could get some very high draft picks to start the rebuilding process but then there is the down side. We could make some bad draft choices as we have done so often in the past and not do much to improve our team.

  21. As a die hard bleed blue Cowboy fan since 1983 I just don’t see how this defense could be any better then last year. It’s gonna be a very long season in Dallas.

  22. To understand the Cowboys you need to try to understand Jerry Jones. Jones has a need to be the center of attention. Every thing the Cowboys do has to go thru Jerry first. Jerry is today’s P.T. Barnum. Jerry believes the best way to draw fans to the Cowboys is put on an offensive show. Jerry believe fans will pay to see the Cowboy offense as long as it’s puts on a good show. Winning doesn’t have a lot to do with it. it’s nice, but not necessary to fill seats. Fans won’t pay to see a defensive struggle, and the Cowboys will not be as popular. Right now Jerry is proving to be right. Jerry never runs out of hype, and the money keeps pouring in. So why would Jerry change?

  23. Lots of doom and gloom here for a team that should of swept the division last year with their only loss coming when the Backup QB played the D was playing guys off the street the last game of the season.

  24. I fear a total nightmare this season, I been feeling this way all year, likely the first time since …. well maybe ever, was about to say 1988, but even then I believed in Tom Landry’s work

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