The 2010 season is rapidly slipping away for the Dallas Cowboys, and it’s only two weeks old. For the second week in a row, the Cowboys lost to a team with inferior talent, and I blame the coaching staff for a good part of it.
I am not trying to paint the 2010 Cowboys as the 1992-95 Cowboys when it comes to talent, nor am I trying to compare the 2010 Chicago Bears with the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but on paper, the Cowboys have a far more talented roster than that of the Bears. That and $100,000 will get them a PSL in Cowboys Stadium, however, as the Bears won the game, which is all that matters.
My beefs with the game plan and coaching decisions in Sunday’s debacle, in order of how stupid I thought they were, follow.
First off, Dez Bryant had just returned a punt for a touchdown, to give the Cowboys the lead and all of the momentum, and the coaching staff calls for an onside kick? Why? Onside kicks are something that should be used by less-talented teams trying to match up with superior teams, not vice versa. I certainly can’t blame the coaching staff for the piss-poor execution of the kick, which was popped up into the air without a Cowboys player in the vicinity, but Chicago’s recovery and resulting excellent field position put all the momentum back on the sideline of the Bears, and they took advantage.
Second, when Marion Barber III ripped off three straight runs of around seven to nine yards apiece, naturally, it made perfect sense to rip out the page of the playbook that contained plays where Barber runs right, because that’s obviously what offensive (and I DO mean offensive) coordinator Jason Garrett did. After absolutely carving through the Chicago defense three consecutive plays, not even being touched until five yards were already in the books, the only times Barber saw the ball the rest of the game were in obvious short-yardage situations, when the entire stadium knew he was running up the gut. It’s elementary football strategy: When you find something that works, keep running it until your opponent proves that they can stop it.
Third, the Bears converted a third-and-17 deep in their own territory by completing a 60-plus-yard pass. That should absolutely, positively never happen. While that may be the fault of the secondary, and not necessarily the coaching staff, a well-coached team doesn’t make mistakes like those. The Cowboys do.
And on the topic of mistakes that should never be made by a well-coached team: Roy Williams finally did something right and caught a few passes, but his fumble was the death knell for any potential Cowboys comeback. It’s one thing to fumble while fighting for more yards, but Williams’ forward progress had been stopped for a couple of seconds already, and he was gaining absolutely nothing by trying to fight off the tackle. The fumble was his fault, but situations like the one he found himself in should have been addressed repeatedly by the coaching staff. My guess is that they weren’t.
The only reason to keep any sliver of hope alive is the fact that there are no 2-0 teams in the NFC East, so the Cowboys are only one game out of first place with 14 to go. But two opportunities for what should have been easy wins were thrown away, and the schedule gets much more difficult now, starting with Sunday’s trip to Houston to take on the Texans. After what I’ve seen during the first two games this season, I am not the least bit confident.