A funny thing happened on the way back to NFL respectability…well not exactly ha-ha funny. The Cowboys no longer have foreign royalty like Prince Bandar clogging up the sidelines and making appearances in the locker room. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Jerry Jones has learned his lesson about distractions. It’s just that the best the Cowboys can do now is a shady Governor from the Garden State. Chris Christie has been in the owners suite during three of the last five games. In the 90’s Jerry wouldn’t have given a governor from New Jersey the time of day. Back then America’s Team was capturing the imagination of the world and it’s leaders. But maybe, just maybe, the Cowboys are going back to the future. Maybe they’ll even get back in the hunt for post season awards.
The Cowboys have two candidates for MVP, Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray. First we’ll discuss the case for Romo. Fresh off a game where he had a career best passer efficiency rating of 151.7, it seems that Tony should be in the conversation. He completed eighteen out of twenty passes against the Colts including sixteen in a row at one point, and played, if not the best, the most efficient game of his life. But it’s not like this was just lightening in a bottle – Romo has been nearly that good all season long. He has spent Christmas week as the top rated passer in the NFL and his season efficiency rating of 114.4 is nearly three and a half points better than Aaron Rogers who is currently at 111.0. Romo has completed over 70 percent of his passes and has thirty-two touchdowns to just eight interceptions. He also passed Troy Aikman for career passing yards on Sunday (although since that is a career milestone it really shouldn’t factor into his candidacy for MVP).
Still, at least in one category, Romo is superior to a Hall-of-Famer.
DeMarco Murray will be too, if he gains more than 29 yards on Sunday.
If the Cowboys running back gets to 30 yards against Washington, he will pass Emmitt Smith for the single season record for yards. Amazingly, he also has a chance to break Emmitt’s record for most carries in a season. In this day and age of teams having a “stable” of running backs, that may be the more significant accomplishment. Murray has toted the rock 373 times this year. Emmitt’s high water mark for carries was 377 in 1995, the same year he set the yards record at 1,773. Emmitt was a warrior – I mean who can forget that game in the Meadowlands when the Cowboys were playing for a bye and home field advantage, and Emmitt played a quarter and overtime against the Giants with a separated shoulder? Of course what Murray did on Sunday ranks as unforgettable too. Jason Garrett said so after the game on Sunday, “He just did a hell of a job today. It’s impact (him playing with a broken finger) on our football team was really, really, really significant.”
Speaking of Garrett, should he not be in the conversation for coach of the year? This is a team that many of us, really all of us, thought would take a step back this year. A step back from three straight 8-8 records. The logic was sound, they had a terrible defense last year and they lost three playmakers from it – DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher AND Sean Lee. Yet somehow, Garrett has lead this team to an 11-4 record and an NFC East division title, their first since 2009. There are those that will argue that the defense is still not very good and that it will be exposed in the playoffs. That might be true, but to me that would enhance Garrett’s candidacy as coach of the year. He has put the right assistant coaches in place and then let them do their jobs. He has become a great walk around coach and he inspired his team to overachieve.
The truth is that Murray and Romo will likely cancel each other out in the MVP voting and neither will win that award. I don’t expect Garrett to win the award either not with the Patriots up in the Northeast doing what they are doing. But at least the Cowboys are back in the conversation for these awards. Now if we can just get somebody Royal interested. Heck the Cowboys won a game London this year – Kate? Harry? Anyone?