Dallas Cowboys an NFL joke
COLUMN By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News
MINNEAPOLIS – Ask these Cowboys about Wade Phillips and the praise flows.
They defend him. They respect him. They like him.
Too bad you can’t tell from their performance.
With each raggedy showing, the players don’t act as if they want to keep their head coach around. Their problems are team-wide. They make mistakes in every facet of the game, and their poor coach hasn’t figured out how to correct them.
The Cowboys’ season – one that began with legitimate conversation about the Super Bowl – continued unraveling Sunday with yet another dreadful performance that featured a litany of mistakes as Minnesota beat Dallas, 24-21.
If it weren’t so pathetic, it’d actually be funny.
These Cowboys have become an NFL joke. A late-night punchline for Leno and Letterman. An embarrassment.
And it’s not because they don’t care. Or don’t play hard.
They just make too many mistakes. No team could overcome the errors these Cowboys make.
“It’s a bunch of small things,” said DeMarcus Ware, “that have turned into a big problem. If we stop the penalties, we’ll win. It’s that simple.”
The reality is the Cowboys are 1-4 – just like Cleveland, Detroit and San Franciso, each of whom is considered among the dregs of the league.
They’re no different.
Only 11 of the last 240 playoff teams have ever made the playoffs after being at least three games under .500 through five weeks. Even Jerry Jones, who owns stock in the company that produces rose-colored glasses, isn’t optimistic.
“I’m disappointed. I realize the challenge we’ve got,” Jerry said. “And we’re not playing well enough to get it done.”
Just so you know, this loss isn’t about Tony Romo and his two interceptions.
That’s too simplistic.
It’s bigger than David Buehler errantly kicking the ball down the middle of the field and Percy Harvin returning it 95 yards for a TD to start the second half.
Those were physical mistakes. You can excuse some of those. The mental mistakes were worse.
You tell me how Miles Austin could get a penalty for excessive celebration – he leapfrogged Roy Williams after his teammate’s second-quarter catch – the week after the Jason Witten-Marc Colombo fiasco helped lose a game against Tennessee?
“We need to celebrate after we win a game,” Wade said.
You tell me how Doug Free doesn’t even get out of his stance, allowing All-Pro Jared Allen – maybe you’ve heard of him – a clear shot at Romo, resulting in an interception after his pass is deflected.
An offensive pass interference penalty by Austin – the call was legitimate – negated his apparent 68-yard touchdown catch.
Dallas had more total yards (314-188), more passing yards (220-118) and more time of possession (32:10-27:50).
The Cowboys also had 11 penalties; the Vikings had five. For the third time this season, the Cowboys had double-digit penalties. They have 23 in the last two games.
A pass interference penalty against Mike Jenkins, who was guilty as sin, allowed Minnesota to convert a third-and-6 with 2:22 left.
End of game. End of season. Jerry knows it. So does Wade. And the players. You can tell from their vibe.
And their words in a gloomy locker room.
“I won’t let this team crumble,” Bradie James said.
Then there’s Roy Williams.
“We’re not going to quit,” he said. “That might happen at some other places, but not on this team.”
We’re two weeks from Halloween, and the Rangers are relevant and the Cowboys aren’t.
Hey, at least the players love their coach. They’ll have a swell time at his going-away party, whenever it takes place.