Rosenthal started writing team-by-team looks at the state of each franchise as it enters the bye week. He did it without telling me. But since he has a new baby, I can’t fire him. For now.
While perusing the calendar to determine the socially acceptable point at which a pink slip can be issued to a man who pays Manhattan rent and who has a brand new baby and a lovely wife, I realized that I actually liked the idea.
So I decided to horn in on it, cherry picking the team about which I wanted to pontificate.
The loss to the Lions could linger.
The biggest collapse in franchise history comes at the worst possible time. As the Cowboys enter the bye, they have two weeks to obsess over what may have been. And in turn they must wait way too long for a chance to scrub the sour taste out of their mouths.
With the first game after the bye entailing a trip to New England, the Cowboys may have to wait until October 23 for an opportunity to get another win, when the Rams come to town. Even if the Cowboys can turn it around, that loss to the Lions could make it difficult when the time comes to compare records and/or tiebreakers after the dust settles on New Year’s Day.
The cheap way isn’t always the smart way.
When the Cowboys dumped center Andre Gurode in order to create some cap space before the season started, they entrusted the job to Phil Costa, an undrafted free agent who joined the team in 2010.
In Week One, Costa snapped the ball before quarterback Tony Romo was ready, at a time when the Cowboys were trying to force overtime late, after blowing a 14-point lead. In Week Three, the Cowboys overcame several bad snaps by Costa to beat Washington. Though the team claims that the Redskins were simulating the snap count, we’ve got a feeling that Gurode would have known when to snap the ball, and when not to.
Run the ball. Run the ball. Run the ball.
The Cowboys have three potentially potent tailbacks: Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, and DeMarco Murray. And yet the Cowboys have run the ball only 38 percent of the time.
The imbalance reared its head in the Lions game, with the Cowboys inexplicably choosing to pass when leading by 24 points with 25 minutes left and a first down from their own 27. The pass resulted in an interception, which resulted in a touchdown, which opened the door for the Lions to come back and steal the game.
Trust Tony Romo, but help him succeed.
The Cowboys remain committed to Tony Romo, who is now 31 years old and demonstrating an awareness that, with so many inexperienced players, someone has to act like the adult.
But the true adults are the coaches, and the coaches need to know when to unleash Romo — and when to rein him in. FOX’s Jimmy Johnson recently told Dan Patrick that Romo’s periodic recklessness potentially traces to his time as a scout team quarterback, given that scout team quarterbacks typically are told to throw the ball into coverage, so that the defense work on playing defense.
Thus, it’s on coach Jason Garrett to harness Romo the same way Mike Holmgren put a leash on Brett Favre, getting the most out of his talents, while also minimizing his weaknesses.
Hold Dez Bryant accountable.
There’s no denying Dez Bryant’s talent. But there are plenty of signs that he does whatever he wants. Though most of the tangible stuff relates to off-field failures to do things like pay for stuff he has purchased, Dez seems to be unwilling or unable to get the absolute most out of his physical abilities.
Apart from the fact that he’ll never last into his 30s if he relies solely on his God-given talents, he’ll continue to be dogged by injuries and late-game ineffectiveness if he doesn’t get himself into peak shape and keep himself there.
Though the Cowboys have been careful to coddle him, Garrett seems to be commencing the process of sliding the gloves off, publicly complaining about Bryant’s conditioning. Hopefully, Garrett will have the full support of owner Jerry Jones if/when Garrett decides to manage Dez more aggressively. He could be truly great if someone gets through to him, and it’s time for someone to try.