Saturday, August 9, 2008
Cowboys Closing Statements
As the Dallas Cowboys begin the start of their "Run to the Super Bowl" season tonight against San Diego in the first of four preseason games, Dallas fans are feeling a level of excitement and anitcipation that has not been felt since the mid '90s. Everyone within the Cowboys organization claim that anything short of a 6th Super Bowl trophy on Jerry Jones' mantel equals a disappointing season. While last season's 13-3 regular season seemed magical at times, the ending result causes concern.
The Cowboys had a 12-1 last season heading into Week 15 against division rival Philadelphia. The only loss at that point had come against the then-undefeated New England Patriots, who the Cowboys played relatively well against the entire game. It seemed as if the Cowboys would never lose, even beating Buffalo on a last second field goal despite the fact that Tony Romo had an incredible 5 turnovers. What transpired Week 15 was a win by the Eagles, who held the explosive Cowboys offense to just 6 points. That gave Dallas their second loss of the season. In the last 2 games of the season, Dallas had an ugly win over Carolina and then again failed to get a touchdown against Washington, losing 27-6. That put the Cowboys at 1-3 for the finish of the 2007 season, destroying any and all momentum they had built up during the entire season.
We all know what happened in the first round of the playoffs, as the Giants picked apart the Cowboys defense and got the upset win, 21-17. The Giants went on to become champs while the Cowboys again had a long offseason to think about what went wrong. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game since the 1996 season, and the only real explanation for the very winnable games that resulted in the Cowboys defeat the last two playoff games is the fact that all mometum built up in the regular season had depleted come playoff time. Let's look at the past five years and how Dallas has finished the regular season:
2003: Started 7-2, finished 3-5
2004: Started 5-7, finished 1-3
2005: Started 7-3, finished 2-4
2006: Started 9-6, finished 0-2
2007: Started 12-1, finished 1-3
This is a trend that must be reversed this season for the Cowboys to have any chance at making a run for the Super Bowl. The 2008 Boys certainly appear to have the most overall talent since the Aikman-glory days, so the Cowboys must focus on sustaining the high level of play they usually start the season with through the end and into the postseason.
Some of the blame must go to America's quarterback, Tony Romo. Tony was cheered for his 97.4 passer rating in last year's regular season, but the numbers could have been better had it not been for those last 4 games. He had a career-worst 22.2 rating in that Week 15 home loss to the Eagles. Fans quickly ignored that performance until Romo then completed only 7 of 16 passes with a pick in just a half of work in Washington (a 34.9 rating) for the season finale. Both seasons of being the starting Cowboys QB, Romo's passer rating has dropped for the final few games of the season. In the 2006 season, Romo's rating for the season was 95.1 but just 75.5 the last 5 remaining games. The interceptions have also increased in the latter part of the '06 and '07 seasons.
The Cowboys have a great chance to overcome these dismal regular season closing statements. The team has not lost anyone significant, and the additions of Zach Thomas, Adam Jones and Felix Jones can do nothing but help this already stacked team. As long as head coach Wade Phillips keeps the consistency alive throughout the regular season, this Cowboys team will be quite a handful come playoff time.
In other Dallas sports news:
-Dirk Nowitzki looked like the happiest man in Beijing last night in the Olympic opening ceremonies as he held the German flag in front of the millions watching around the world. One Maverick (or should I say ex-Mav) who was most likely not happy was draft pick Shan Foster, who was told that he would not make this year's team. Foster has since signed a one-year deal with a team in Europe. We here at DallasDedicated hope that he comes back to the U.S. next off-season as a better basketball player ready to impress the Mavs staff.
-Jerry Jones is contemplating having the HBO Hard Knocks cameras stay around for the entire regular season. Hopefully having even more cameras in the faces of the Cowboys during the regular season does not distract the team from the task at hand.