So this whole season has been about how the Cowboys have come out of the blue as one of the best teams in the NFL and have taken the league by storm, leading the pack in the NFC. That is, until this past Monday where the Cowboys lost…on Monday Night Football…to the Redskins. While the game did go to overtime and wasn’t a blowout or anything, the game exposed Dallas as a team. They really aren’t as great as everyone is saying they are.
There’s no doubt that RB DeMarco Murray is having a sensational year and even could break some sort of rushing record. He’s already eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark halfway through the season and has added seven rushing touchdowns, as well as 239 receiving yards. His 1,293 total yards is by far the highest in the NFL this year. The Eagles had the rushing leader last year and finished ahead of the Cowboys. Is it possible that the roles have reversed?
Well, they always say that running the ball and playing good defense win championships. They definitely already have the rushing attack down pat with the best running back in the league. Going into this season, I was thinking the Cowboys had the potential to be the worst defense in NFL history. Not only have they completely destroyed all possibility of that prediction, but they are 14th in the league in total yards allowed and 9th in points per game allowed. That doesn’t sound like even a bad defense.
But, both their running game and defense have clear weaknesses that will be exposed over time. First, Murray has a fumbling problem. While he may have the most rushing yards in the league by an astounding 288 yards, he’s also leading the league in fumbles with five, which is completely unacceptable. There becomes a point when a player is more hurtful to a team when he’s essentially guaranteed to fumble more than once a game. This has been the first part of Murray’s struggles over the years, except he’s already lost more fumbles than first three seasons combined. Not good.
Also, he’s been injury-plagued already, which is not a good sign for a young running back. It’s widely known that running backs often have shorter careers because they can’t maintain lots of carries for many seasons. Well, Murray is actually on pace to log more carries than any other running back in NFL history. It’s gotten to the point where they’re talking about running the ball less, which is an unheard of concept in Dallas after head coach Jason Garrett was often criticized for not running the ball enough. Also, Murray has missed 11 games over the last three years, which is a significant amount of time. A team without its starting running back, especially one as talented as Murray, is far inferior. These injuries that Murray accumulates cause him to both miss games and play worse. If Murray becomes less effective, it will be a lot easier for teams to beat the Cowboys. And I fully expect him to drop off at some point, whether it’s due to injury or something else.
It doesn’t seem like Murray is slowing down yet though. Even though he went his first game Monday with less than 20 carries, he still accumulated a season-high 221 total yards. That’s crazy. But, the Cowboys have another big problem: QB Tony Romo. His back surgery in the offseason was a serious one, and many are surprised he’s even able to come back from it. But here he is, playing as if nothing was wrong. Until Monday, when he took a big shot to the back on a sack and had to the leave the game. And who came in for them in relief of Romo? Brandon Weeden, former Browns starter and already-declared bust.
This is a guy who has 26 interceptions and nine fumbles in just 23 games with the Browns. Again, not good numbers at all. Him and Murray as a tandem are turnover machines. The Cowboys are trying to get Romo to play, but even if he plays next week, it’s going to be while banged up, and he’s just one more hit away from a serious injury. While this can technically be said for anybody, it’s especially true for Romo because of his current back problems. The clock is ticking, and Romo’s career may be coming to an end.
And these are just the offensive problems for the Cowboys. Their defense may be playing well overall so far, but they just lost LB Justin Durant for the season, who was doing a great job in the absence of LB Sean Lee, who got hurt before the season even started. Durant led the team with 49 tackles and had an interception and two forced fumbles. He will definitely be missed on their defense.
So, do I even need to talk about the Eagles at this point? Just like every year, the Cowboys are going to collapse. The one problem is that the Cowboys have a very mixed schedule coming up. They face tough teams like Arizona (which is next week), Indianapolis, and Philadelphia twice. But they also have Jacksonville, Chicago, the Giants, and Washington. So how exactly are they going to fare. Well, if they can’t beat the Redskins at home, then I don’t know how they beat anybody else this season, or how they will beat anybody else. Is it possible that they beat only Jacksonville and maybe Washington the rest of the season? That would be an epic collapse that would finish them at, you guessed it, 8-8.
Everything I just said could turn out to be false, but I think they’re fair predictions. If they beat Arizona this week, then I’ll accept that maybe I was wrong and that they’re a good team. But until then, I’ll sit back and watch as the collapse begins. It should be epic as usual.