November 9, 2012
Is there hope for the Cowboys?
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
Despite all the criticism of the Dallas Cowboys — much of it, for sure, is warranted — there is reason to believe that they may not be as awful as their record so far suggests.
Given the hype surrounding the team and the everything-is-bigger-in-Texas game plan owner Jerry Jones has for his life and his team, the spotlight shines that much brighter on the team than anywhere else in the league.
Failure gets almost as much cover as success. (Sound familiar, certain NHL team that plays its games at the bottom of Bay St.?)
At 3-5, we’re not here to suggest that the Cowboys are a playoff contender — and indeed, if they lose their Week 10 meeting to Philadelphia on Sunday, playoff hopes are as good as over. We are here, however, to offer up some excuses for a team that often enough this season hasn’t played that poorly to suggest that a run for a playoff position isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds.
If they get by the Eagles — and with that offensive line’s complete inability to block and the team in disarray throughout, why wouldn’t they? — life gets considerably less formidable for quarterback Tony Romo and the rest of his team. Next up are games against the 2-7 Cleveland Browns and the traditional home Thanksgiving Day tilt with the Washington Redskins, who are 3-6.
It couldn’t rain on a drier spot for the Cowboys with respect to the strength of competition they have faced thus far.
Midway through this disappointing campaign, the Cowboys have played the Super Bowl champion New York Giants (twice), the NFL’s top team and lone undefeated squad Atlanta, the always tough Baltimore Ravens and at Seattle, arguably one of the toughest road venues in the league. You get the picture.
The eight opponents Dallas has faced so far have a combined record of 42-21. The final eight? That would be 24-40.
“Never would I have thought we would be at this point with this team,” said Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten, reflecting the lofty expectations the team, never mind its followers, had for the ‘Boys this season.
Few would have expected it, actually, and if it weren’t for the fact that despite all the promise, throughout his career quarterback Romo has shown an uncanny knack for finding ways to lose games more proficiently than win them.
While it’s a divisional matchup and the Eagles swept both meetings last season, Sunday’s meeting between two underachieving 3-5 squads seems like more of an opportunity for the visiting Cowboys.
The Eagles, few would argue, look like a team that has packed it in. Their work in the red zone is an embarrassment, they are getting beat up so badly on the offensive-line that they actually made the New Orleans Saints defence look good Monday night.
So if the Cowboys manage to leave the Linc with a victory, they play their next five at home. It could also be a chance for Romo, who has won 19 of 22 games in November during his star-crossed career, to gain some momentum. As it stands now, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only remaining opponent on the Cowboys’ schedule with a winning record.
“We’re a whole lot better (than what it looks),” Dallas defensive end Jason Hatcher said this week. “We’ve got to finish games, take care of the ball, create more turnovers on defence. Just finish overall.”
Finish Sunday or be finished.
GOOD TO BE LUCK-Y
Not to say that there isn’t a lot to love about Indianapolis Colts’ dynamic rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but there’s no need to put too much stock into his first prime-time performance on Thursday night.
Luck got the hype and the win and was solid in the 27-10 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but by no possible definition was this what could be considered a “quality” win. The Jags are awful, self-destructive and barely competitive. Give credit to Luck for doing what was necessary to guide his team to the win, but don’t be selling playoff tickets just yet.
That said, the Colts are 6-3 and somewhat shockingly in the hunt for the postseason as Luck finds himself a win away from the rookie wins record for a rookie NFL quarterback.
We’ll get a better idea of what the Colts are made of next week in New England and a pair of games against division-rival Houston down the stretch.
But thanks to some good Luck, those who bet “over” the projected five wins Vegas set on the Colts’ season win total are already in the money.
No surprise here, but Saints running back Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the undefeated Falcons. Sproles suffered a broken hand two weeks ago and watched the Monday night win over Philly from the Saints sidelines. The Saints are expected to continue with a three-headed rotation of Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas ... As if it wasn’t shaping up to be a long enough afternoon for the Bills this Sunday in New England, with defensive ends Chris Kelsay and Shawne Merriman each listed as questionable ... Patriots running back Brandon Bolden - who wasn’t expected to play Sunday - has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Bolden has been out since Week 6 with a knee injury.