Mac Engel

Distracted Cowboys proving 2014 was an aberration

The team isn’t distracted, the head coach loves their fight and their spirit, and the starting quarterback returns next week. Do not allow these sleights of hand to distract you from the obvious, that the 2015 season is over for the Dallas Cowboys.

The season unofficially ended Sunday in Tampa with the star wide receiver, Dez Bryant, lobbying for a penalty when he should have been going for the ball on a game-ending interception. He was distracted on the play, just as the entire team has been distracted since long before the season began.

“I think our team has done a really good job of staying focused on what we need to do, and our preparation and our play,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Sunday afternoon.

Sorry, Coach, the results say otherwise. Once again the Dallas Cowboys are about noise, garbage and controversy rather than wins. Last season was an aberration, and this team still confuses popularity with winning.

The Cowboys’ pathetic 10-6 loss against the Tampa Bay Bucs was one for the wretched books — this is the worst stretch in the 26 years of the Jerry Jones era. That covers the first season of his tenure in 1989 when the team was 1-15; it also includes the glory days under Dave Campo, Chan Gailey and Wade Phillips.

“There being absolutely nothing positive that you can say about where we are,” Jerry said after yet another loss. “We’re not getting it done, and that’s beginning with me.”

On this one, no one will disagree with the Cowboys’ general manager.

The season will be placed on the broken clavicle suffered by Tony Romo in Week 2, but this is on the brain trust that simply refuses to read from anything but The Book of Dumb. This season is on Jerry, Stephen, Coach Process, and throw Charlotte in the kettle, too.

On Sunday, there was Jerry’s first coach, Jimmy Johnson, saying on the Fox pregame show that part of Garrett’s problem is that the players know they don’t have to answer to their coach but to their owner, whom he called “an enabler.”

A little bit earlier, there were the guys on the NFL Network show debating Dez’s latest “I hate the media rant” from earlier in the week. And we have not talked about Greg Hardy, who had to be separated from teammate DeMarcus Lawrence on the sideline after Tank took exception to the Kraken’s leadership methods.

Neither Tank nor the Kraken took questions from the media, but their teammates explained it as a nothing. Compile all of these “nothings” from Hardy this season and it is at least a something.

Controversy, noise and reality TV-style plot twists are entertaining, but they don’t do much to help a football team win games, which is what the Cowboys were originally rooted in.

The season is gone, and that locker room on Sunday afternoon knew it, too. I don’t care how bad the NFC East is, embrace the stench and go for a top five pick in the draft. While you’re at it, cut Hardy, too.

Everything you needed to know about this season was on full display Sunday. The offense scored six pitiful points. Dan Bailey made two field goals, but missed a third. Dez caught five passes, but had a few drops, and failed to even go for the ball on the decisive play in the end zone. The defense finally generated two turnovers, yet allowed rookie QB Jameis Winston to bumble his way down the field for a game-winning score in the final minute.

When this team has to make a play to win, it has lost on the road, at home, against the good and the bad.

It looks exactly like 2008. The ’07 team was close, and Jerry paid everybody; he brought in Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and he traded for Roy Williams; Romo suffered an injury, and the team missed the playoffs.

Jerry paid lots of people in this off-season — Garrett, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, Dez, Doug Free, Tyrone Crawford, Orlando Scandrick — and they signed one rather giant knucklehead in Hardy. They trusted linebacker Rolando McClain, and running back Joseph Randle. They built a defense around the injury-prone Sean Lee. They banked on a brilliant offensive line to turn ish running backs into great running backs.

Romo is hurt, Hardy is a walking distraction that can’t sack quarterbacks, and McClain is finished.

After the game, Ro’ told the Star-Telegram’s Drew Davison that his thoughts are with the people in Paris, after the tragic terrorist attack over the weekend.

“There’s things bigger than football,” he said. “That’s exactly how I feel. That’s what’s on my mind.”

This bout of compassion does not explain his performance before this tragedy. He is an immense waste of talent.

Randle has been cut, Lee is out with a concussion, and Darren McFadden has the Cowboys’ two 100-yard running games this season.

The only positive going for Garrett is that his team has not quit, but after Sunday’s loss that might be out of his hands. It does not get Garrett off the hook. No NFL team with this much talent should go 0-7, even without its star quarterback. At worst the Cowboys should have won three of these Romo-less games, and that is on the coach.

The season is over, and now we can start looking at the mock drafts and praying for the day the Cowboys are smart enough to celebrate wins as much as ratings, page views and Facebook likes.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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