What Happened to the Dallas Cowboys?!!!

The bitter P1 is back again. Heck, everybody’s bitter today. And since I already started last night, why not pile on?

Like I said two days ago, I am sure somebody’s going to make the obvious comparison to the Mavericks of last season…chewing through the NBA regular season like they were playing high school teams…then choking against a low seed in the playoffs.

In their case, everybody piles on Dirk and makes the claim he’s not a tough-enough leader. And I am sure that people will do that with Romo too…the Jessica Simpson thing…the fumble last year.

But in my mind, although Romo did not play spectacularly, he did play “OK.” And had he gotten just a little help, we WOULD be calling his play “spectacular.”

To me, last nights loss comes down to really poor play by two groups: the offensive line and the wide receivers.

The Offensive Line: “This ain’t the group from the 90s.”

Near the end of the game, Romo was overtly frustrated with the offensive line. And just now on The Ticket, I heard them, ahem, musing that perhaps we overrated this unit all season.

Let me just say this, and while it sounds like backseat driving, it’s a thought I’ve had in my head all year: I have never believed the offensive line was as good as everybody said they were.

I believe that Romo makes them look good in his ability to scramble and make things happen. He even did that a couple of times yesterday. But when he need them to cover him on several clutch plays late in the game, they just weren’t there. Yes, he should throw the ball away. (That’s his fault) But, jeez, in a playoff situation like that? They’ve got to play better. They looked flat all game.

Yes, they managed to open up some pretty good holes for Marion the Barbarian. But, even that is suspect to me. See, I think you can argue that his punishing style of running –dragging defenders along with him– is as much as part of his success as the actual holes the line opens up.

Personally? I think the strengths of Romo (scrambling…thinking on his feet…moving out of the pocket…quick release) and Barber (punishing running…stiff arms…) help gloss over weaknesses in the offensive line that we would have seen weeks ago otherwise.

The Wide Receivers: Patrick Crayton…just go ahead and change your phone number now…

What was the deal with that guy?!! With Terry Glenn back in the line up, you’d think he’d be working twice as hard to keep his spot; play flawless ball. And I know you can never blame a loss just on ONE guy. But, if you could, my scapegoat would be Patrick Crayton.

Here’s how I count it: he had two poor plays that might well have gone for touchdowns, and another key drop that would have kept a drive alive.

Least damaging of the three –but still horrible– was a clear drop that would have kept a drive alive.

Second worst was the play where Crayton was streaking across the open field. Romo had wiggled his way out of the pocket and found him, and Crayton just dropped the ball…just dropped it. There looked to be one guy between Crayton and the goal line, and that guy was not going to get him…guarantee it.

Absolutely worst was on the next-to-last play of the game, where Romo put the ball PERFECTLY into the corner of the end zone. In live action, it looked like an overthrow. On a second look, it’s clear that Crayton stops running full stride at about the ten. By the time he realizes he’s made a mistake, it’s too late and the ball’s over his head.

With less than thirty seconds left, what was he thinking?!!!

Oh yeah…almost forgot…he almost fumbled a punt too.

And, while TO had a fine day, he also had a crucial drop…a long pass down the side line that went straight through his hands. Who knows where that would have led.

————————————–
When you start the recipe with poor play from those two groups, add in one part “too many penalties,” and another dash of “poor special teams play,” it’s going to give you a dish that leaves a bad taste in your mouth for months to come.

If Crayton and TO make those three catches…
…at least one, maybe two, go for touchdowns
…Romo’s QB rating is probably well over 100*
…and we’re not left scratching our heads about how we had so many yards and so few points.

Last year at this time, Tony Romo let his team down.

This year it was the other way around.

*(this assumes that if we had those scores, he wouldn’t have thrown the duck that got intercepted on the last play…)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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