Cowboys heading into restless bye week
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys may as well be 0-4; it feels that bad. And Week 4’s crushing defeat of the Cowboys by the Chicago Bears was the catalyst for what will be a trying week off. The Cowboys will spend their time at Valley Ranch studying, scheming, and trying to understand their dismal start to the 2012-13 season. While the Cowboys probably won’t be lowering expectations for themselves, the sports world has all but written them off as a legitimate contender for the NFC East title, much less a team capable of making any serious playoff run.
What can be said about this year’s Cowboys that hasn’t been said? Tony Romo keeps finding a way to turn the ball over, the receivers look careless and sloppy, the offensive line continues to show its inexperience, and Robn Ryan’s defense is underachieving for the second straight year. And these are just the obvious problems. One of the keys to their continued struggles is their lack of depth at pretty much every position but cornerback. Their secondary is stocked, but recent injuries to Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh will only make things more difficult as the long NFL season moves forward. The Dallas front seven is fairing even worse. Jay Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman, Anthony Spencer, and Marcus Spears are all injured.
As poor as the defense played in week 4, the offense looked to be at the center of the Cowboys problems. For the most part, Romo was able to move the ball against a veteran Bears defense, but turnovers kept them from entering scoring position. Romo’s five INTs looks horrendous on paper, but the receivers deserve just as much blame. Perhaps more importantly, the Cowboys still look like they don’t realize they have a running game. They gave DeMarco Murray the ball 11 times. He should be seeing at least 15 carries a game. He’s an explosive back capable of opening up the passing game and motivating a stagnant offense if given the chance.
So what will it actually take for the Cowboys to get on the right track? It’s hard to say precisely, but nagging injuries and a lack of discipline appear to be the main culprits. I’m sure Kyle Orton’s late-game appearance and TD throw will have Romo’s haters feeling confident in their criticisms of the starting QB. Maybe he needs to go; maybe Jason Garrett needs to go. Or maybe the Cowboys need to stop letting that star on their helmet convince them they’ve already arrived, because clearly they’ve got a long ways to go.