For the CowSheep who will gather around the TV screen Sunday afternoon, sweating out a road test in Philly, here’s some obvious advice:
You’d better hope the coaching-staff game plan for the Eagles is a heck of a lot better organized than the corporate level rodeo/goat-rope of the past week and past six months.
The Dallas Cowboys giving good-riddance walking papers to former defensive line mainstay Jay Ratliff had no impact on the team’s current football situation.
For a while it’s been a given that Ratliff did not factor into this season. Jay was yesteryear’s news. He was injured, and he wasn’t coming back. This season. Or next season. Or ever again.
But the current picture is different. Mr. Jerry needs to go stand in front of his newest piece of multimillion dollar Big Yard art, “Sky Mirror,” and ask the following question:
“Mirror, Mirror, on the concourse, why do I continue to be such a football idiot?”
We’d all love to hear the answer.
But with Ratliff’s agent saying last week it should have been known all along his client had such a serious injury there was no way he could play this season, why did the Cowboys, since April, continue to factor in Jay as a major contributor?
Not drafting even one defensive lineman in April was super questionable to start with, but at least a portion of that decision was based on the front office seemingly certain Ratliff would be back. Not upgrading the defensive line since April was for the same reason.
There’s a second guess also involved of Jerry once again “paying age” when he gave Ratliff a massive new contract, but I’m not going there. However, the ongoing cost of releasing Ratliff at this point will impact the Cowboys next season. There’s a $6.9 million dead-money cap disaster involved, which is directly related to “paying age.”
Because of injuries beyond Ratliff (Anthony Spencer, Tyrone Crawford and, of course, DeMarcus Ware), defensive line remains an area of uncertainty moving forward. But the other guys were simply bad luck. Ratliff was a bad decision, particularly for a player who created issues for the club.
The DUI last spring. The feud with the team’s medical staff this summer. The physical confrontation with Jerry in the locker room last season.
Without breaking news here, Jerry the GM has an ongoing problem. Too many bad, and reckless, decisions on his résumé.
Meanwhile, players have to play and coaches have to coach as the Cowboys continue their quest to be an 8-8 team by the end of December, with 8-8 currently the benchmark for winning an awful division, the NFC East.
This road encounter Sunday in Philly will tell us much about the 8-8 goal becoming a reality.
Back to you, Tony.
Tony Romo had a rare Sunday “off” last week, not being called upon to go out and win a game when the Cowboys beat the Redskins. Winning that game came down to defense and special teams, with Dwayne Harris the hero.
But Romo definitely will be asked to earn his millions on the road in Philly.
The Eagles can score, and will. Young quarterback Nick Foles is advancing rapidly and the dangerous receivers remain for new coach Chip Kelly and the sonic speed offense he brought to the NFL.
But the Eagles’ defense is very, very suspect.
The running game will be available for the Cowboys, out of respect for Romo and his receivers. But the running game on Sunday comes down to rookie Joseph Randle and/or Phillip Tanner, since the top two backs, DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar, are injured.
Philly will want to take away the deep ball from Romo, therefore inviting the Cowboys to pound it. But it may take 30-plus points for a road win, and patience with the air game will have to be Romo’s calling card.
Dink, dunk and dump. Enough success in that area will bring the Eagles’ safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, opening up shots downfield. If that happens, it brings into play the weakest area of the Philly defense, the cornerbacks.
There’s always that trust factor question with Romo. Can he be counted on to protect the football? Only three interceptions in six games, with two not his fault, says Romo is passing the trust test thus far.
But in two road games (Kansas City and San Diego), the offense has become alarmingly stagnant, and certainly end-zone shy. Romo has to change that negative, starting Sunday.
The corporate level at Valley Ranch is coming off another one of those what-the-hell kind of weeks. The football team in Philly has to be much better than Jerry.
But that, of course, has been the case for nearly two decades, with the ongoing futility telling us Jerry the GM is extremely hard to overcome.