A Bleak Beginning for Cowboys
For the first time ever, DeMarco Murray carried the ball more than 20 times and the Cowboys didn’t win. The way Tony Romo performed in the Cowboys opener against the 49ers, Murray could have carried it 40 times and it wouldn’t have mattered. Four first half turnovers by the Dallas offense handed a relatively easy 28-17 victory to the Niners. One of the more telling signs that it was going to be a bad day–and possibly a bad season for Dallas–was early in the first quarter, after a Murray fumble was returned for a San Francisco touchdown, the Cowboys had the ball on the Niners 2 yard line, second and goal. What play is called? Not a Murray run, which other than the fumble had been going well. No, the Cowboy offensive geniuses called a pass, Romo is sacked for a 10 yard loss, and Dallas settles for a field goal. That was as close as they were going to get.
For a team that has little to no defense, scoring points is the only way the Cowboys will stay in games this season. Not taking at least one shot with Murray from the two, tells everyone that Garrett and new play caller, Scott Linehan, want to “out-think” everyone and ditch the prudent play for the really clever one. Not playing Romo in the pre-season also backfired on the Cowboys. Either that, or he’s going to be horrible all season. During one stretch in the first half, Romo ended three straight drives with interceptions. For a guy who’s been in the league for 10 years he still does some amazingly stupid things. His third pick led to a Niners touchdown and gave San Francisco an insurmountable 28-3 lead at halftime.
The truth is the Dallas defense didn’t play that badly. They were put into a deep, deep hole by the offense and shut out the Niners after halftime. Of course the Niners were on cruise control at that point so it is a bit misleading. Bright spots? Murray looked good, 22 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown. The much talked about offensive line was just okay, Tyron Smith opened the game with an illegal procedure penalty…..really? After 5 weeks of training camp, on the first play of the new season, you can’t remember the count? The lack of discipline continues to haunt the Cowboys and reflects on Jason Garrett.
Most everyone expected the Cowboys to lose to San Francisco, given that the Niners have played in three straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl, but just like in the past three seasons, when you actually watch the game unfold and see the teams on the field, you realize that the Cowboys COULD have won this game. It wasn’t that San Francisco was ten times better than the Cowboys — it was, once again, the Cowboys pulling out their six shooter and shooting themselves in the foot, again and again. For Dallas to even think about a decent .500 season, they have to play near error-free football. From what we’ve seen the past years under Garrett and with Romo at the controls, that isn’t feasible. The best hope the Cowboys have from this point on is that their opponents, week after week, trip over themselves as often as the Cowboys do. If that happens enough, maybe this team approaches 7 or 8 wins. If not, we’re looking at the Dave Campo era all over again.