Heading into the bye week the Dallas Cowboys are posting a modest 3-2 record. Their victories have come against teams that are a combined 1-13 and their losses have come against teams that are 10-0. So who are the Dallas Cowboys?
From a fan’s perspective it is easy to join in on the “piling on” of the Cowboys. “Fire Wade, fire Garrett, fire Romo, fire everyone,” seems to be the rallying cries, even after a hard fought win over the Chiefs. You see the problem with these Cowboys is they are their own worst enemy. Consistency, is a term that is tossed around a lot by the players and the coaches.
Everyone knows the Cowboys simply have none. They rolled over the Bucs, dropped a heart breaker to the Giants. They escaped the Panthers, let the Broncos slip through their fingers. Finally, they squeaked past the Chiefs in an overtime thriller.
We all know how hard it is to win in the NFL. The playing field is getting more level every year. The Cowboys, for some reason, like to give themselves more of a challenge by shooting themselves in the foot.
So, as the Cowboys head into their bye week they have a lot of work to do. It started on Monday with film review. Usually on bye weeks teams are giving the first couple of days off to get away and take a break from football. Not this Monday. “That’s why we are here today. This is our bye week, we won the game, we’re in here Monday still watching film because there’s still a couple of things we can improve on, and I think we will,” Bradie James said on Monday. He is right.
Let’s take a look at the most pressing concerns for the Cowboys:
Penalties – Consider the Cowboys have committed 68 penalties through 5 games according to NFL.com. Cowboys rank in the top three in the league for most penalized team. They suffered 13 on Sunday, 5 which were defensive offside calls (4 on one drive). They seem to have a knack at stopping their own momentum on offense with false starts, and holding calls. LT Flozell Adams was responsible for 3 penalties all on his own on Sunday (2 False Starts, 1 Holding). If the Cowboys want to play to their “potential” they have to clean up the penalties.
Two Minute Defense – In the first five games of the season, four of them have come down to the last possession. Three times the Cowboys have either lost or been forced into overtime. We saw this problem last year when the defense failed to get a stop when it needed it the most. While the defense was excellent in the overtime period against Kansas City on Sunday, it was the failure to stop the Chiefs from scoring a touchdown with under a minute to play that forced them into that spot.
It is true that the defense has looked dominant at times in the last three games, but these late drives continue to be their achilles heal. Wade Philips says that he has devoted much practice time this week to their two-minute defense.
Turnovers – The Cowboys are a -4 ratio in the turnover department and that also has to change. With a team that is so readily able to put pressure on other teams offenses, it is amazing that they do not have more turnovers. Wade Philips keeps preaching that the turnovers will come, but after watching this team last year, a year in which they finished in the negative for turnovers, it is hard to believe that anything will change here. The offense also needs to step up and take better care of the ball. QB Tony Romo said that he had worked on ball control all summer. So far, the work has not paid off. One can even argue that it has caused Romo to be less confident with where he throws the ball. But turnovers always have a huge impact on a game. Usually, whom ever wins the turnover battle, wins the game.
It is true that there is very little difference between being undefeated and winless. This Cowboys team could easily be 5-0, on the other hand they could also be only a one win team (Bucs game). With Atlanta on the horizon, not to mention a gauntlet of divisional games in the near future, the Cowboys need to hope they get some work done in the next couple of weeks.