The Dallas Cowboys still lead the NFC East division and have a winnable path to the playoffs. So why are so many fans already numb?
The Dallas Cowboys (6-7) currently lead the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East title race by way of tiebreaker. The doable task ahead is to beat the Eagles and either the Rams or Redskins. Accomplish that and it’s a done deal.
The Eagles (6-7) are playing awful football and just learned leading wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is out for the season. A second win over this diving team wouldn’t be a shocker. And playing the Redskins (3-10) in a must-win finale is a gift.
With such a winnable task ahead, many fans are already numb and apathetic. One reason is Dallas has been embarrassed by good teams. Another is playoff entry with unlikely success would give ownership a reason to keep a middling head coach.
Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the 2019 failures that have caused many fans to lose excitement and feel numb to playoff possibilities.
0-6 AGAINST WINNING TEAMS
Once Minnesota (9-4) notches another win (three games left), it will guarantee the NFC East Champion will be the only NFC playoff team with less than ten wins.
A win in Philadelphia will likely see Dallas backdoor into a division title. Regardless, few have faith they could win once, much less twice, against playoff foes with winning records. Six attempts so far have added nothing to the win column.
The Cowboys have already played three likely NFC playoff teams (Saints, Packers, Vikings) and lost each time. Is the fourth time a charm? Not likely.
POOR RETURN ON RUN GAME INVESTMENT
Four of the Cowboys offensive linemen are costing the team $44.75 million against the salary cap. Ezekiel Elliot accounts for $6.4 million. The full line (including Connor Williams or Xavier Su’a-filo) plus the running back are eating over $50 million.
In return for that massive investment in expected superior talent, Dallas ranks 10th in rushing yards per game (124.1). That’s great for some teams, but not one that sunk a massive amount of cap into making ground domination their specialty.
UNDISCIPLINED AND UNACCOUNTABLE COACHING
A team’s performance on the field, if consistent in its faults, is a direct indictment of poor coaching. Where should we start on this catastrophe?
The Cowboys released their kicker after 13 games of the season. Brett Maher was a horrendous 7-13 (54 percent) from 30-49 yards away. Yet the team held on to misguided hope all of November incompetently wishing for a turn-around.
Dallas leads the league in missed tackles. They are also 26th in forcing turnovers and 15th in sacks tallied. One can blame it on poor schemes, technique, sloppy play, etc. The bottom line is the returning, promising unit from 2018 has regressed.
We’ve seen the Cowboys be a dominant running force with four of these starting linemen and their running back. Roughly the same defenders under the same coaches and schemes finished 6th in points and fifth in rushing yards allowed last year.
Only a few player changes were made to both sides of the ball since 2018. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is the one major coaching change. Yet 2019 results have been worse. The best conclusion is head coach Jason Garrett has lost his team.