Dark times in Dallas: America’s team struggles to compete
After three consecutive 8-8 seasons, the Cowboys turned the corner in 2014. Dallas went 12-4, won the NFC East, and won a playoff game before a hard fought season-ending loss to Green Bay. America’s team entered the 2015 season with high expectations, but injuries and consistent underachievement have taken their toll. Dallas is in last place in the division, and the title window for the current core of players is closing fast.
Quarterback Tony Romo has been the face of the Cowboys franchise since replacing Drew Bledsoe as the starter in 2006. He has been selected to four pro-bowls and consistently ranks among the league leaders in touchdowns and passing yards. Romo broke his collarbone in week two and reinjured it in week 12 — only two games after returning from his first collarbone injury. His season is over, and Dallas has no contingency plan for Romo’s absence. At 35 years old and having already had multiple back surgeries, Romo does not have many NFL seasons left.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 29, 2015
Outside of Romo, the rest of the Cowboys’ offense is a mess. Tight end Jason Witten is at the tail end of a great career. He can no longer be relied on as a weapon in the passing game. Dallas was never able to find a replacement for running back Demarco Murray, the star running back who left in free agency. Joseph Randle, the week one starter, was cut after multiple run-ins with law enforcement. Wide receiver Dez Bryant is one of the most dangerous weapons in all of football, but his conditioning issues limit his effectiveness. Outside of Bryant, the Dallas offense is toothless.
The Dallas defense is a league average unit whose best player is one of the most controversial signings in NFL history. Defensive end Greg Hardy continues to impress on the field and create turmoil off of it. His lack of awareness during interviews and propensity for temper tantrums on the sideline during games are constant concerns for both coaches and ownership.
The Cowboys are “America’s team,” and as such, their expectations are high coming into every season. Under head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys have consistently underachieved, and this season could be his last season in Dallas. Over the last 10 seasons, the Cowboys have drafted more pro-bowlers than any other franchise, but they cannot convert the individual talent into team success. This version of Cowboys has reached its ceiling, and it is time to try something new in Dallas.
How many more years does Tony Romo have as an elite quarterback? Is outspoken owner Jerry Jones a liability to Dallas’ efforts to be successful? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4