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Cowboys-Redskins Analysis

January 1, 2013

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This loss is difficult to take. It’s difficult for a number of reasons but arguably the biggest reason it’s difficult is because the Cowboys were beat by a team that didn’t play all that well. It’s also difficult because it makes it 2 years in a row that Cowboys fans have to see their team get eliminated by a division rival in the final regular season game on the NFL calendar. It’s also hard to take because it re-opened questions about Romo and his inability to perform in the clutch JUST WHEN he was putting those questions to rest for good with his spectacular month of December. Yet to me the worst part was that the Redskins didn’t play all that well and the Cowboys still had no answers for them. RGIII only passed for 100 yards, the Redskins wideouts ended two drives with easy drops, a false start caused another drive to go off track for them, and a missed field goal ended another drive without points. These weren’t world beaters that Dallas faced last night yet in the end it didn’t really matter. The Cowboys fought hard and on defense it’s fair to say they just ran out of bodies as DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer joined Barry Church, Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick, Bruce Carter, and Jay Ratliff as severely injured Cowboys yet injuries only excuse the Cowboys defense. Injuries, especially the ones that occurred up the middle of the Cowboys defense, help explain how a 6th round pick out of Florida Atlantic ran for 200 yards against them in the biggest game of the year. Yet it doesn’t explain away Romo’s atrocious start where he began 0-3 with a sack and an interception. He clearly was pressing and a better team would have put the Cowboys in an early hole yet at the end of the 1st quarter it was still 0-0. Once again I would like to remind the reader that this Washington team wasn’t very good last night. They probably next week will be obliterated by the Seattle Seahawks (prediction 42-17 Seahawks) and that’s what makes this loss even tougher to swallow. Some fans will defend Romo, I’ve done that enough these past few years, some fans will defend Garrett, and most fans will defend the defense yet in the end it’s hard to defend this same cast of characters that always seems to be close but never really that close when you look back with perspective. Yes Romo almost eliminated the Giants last year in Cowboys stadium on a 3rd down pass to Miles Austin but with perspective it’s easy to see that it wasn’t that close as Romo once again failed in the biggest game of the year (2 years in a row) and even if he had completed that pass he wouldn’t have likely led his team to late season playoffs wins like Eli Manning did in Lambeau against Aaron Rodgers and in Candlestick against the 49ers. I’ll be the first to bash Eli when people make the argument that he’s elite like his brother Peyton or Tom Brady but I’ll also admit that when there is a play to be made Eli regularly makes it and in the biggest moments Romo has quite often come up short. Everyone is discussing his late interception, and it was a huge mistake, but I was more disappointed with how nervous he looked in the 1st quarter. A great quarterback needs to lead his team and it was evident from his body language and his early actions that he was incredibly uncomfortable being in a game of that magnitude. I don’t think that is something he will overcome as in his next big game he will now not just be thinking about his fumbled hold on the would be game winning field goal against Seattle but the overthrown touch pass against the Giants in 2011 and the 3 horrible interceptions against the Redskins in 2012. At the beginning of next season Tony Romo will be 33 years old and in the final year of his 6 year $67.4 million deal. Difficult decisions will need to be made on a quarterback who statistically is elite yet has struggled in big games and, if you agree with historical performance curves on quarterbacks based on age, is on the verge of exiting his “prime” years. Romo quite often was one of the only bright spots on this team as the offensive line was terrible for most of the season, the secondary often struggled (despite some expensive additions), and injuries to the middle of their defense hampered their ability to stop the run. Cutting ties with Romo will likely make the Cowboys a worse team in the short term but due to his age there is a valid argument of whether Dallas would be better of moving in a new direction at quarterback to pair with the young nucleus of Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and Morris Claiborne or whether they should give Romo another shot at a long postseason run to maximize the “window” of their veteran nucleus in Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, and Miles Austin. It’s important for fans to not overreact to one game as just a week ago Romo was in the middle of a stretch of brilliance that was making his exclusion from the Pro Bowl team look like a major slight. Yet a similar result does seem to be occurring year in and year out and the status quo cannot be tolerated much longer. Welcome to the 2013 Cowboys off-season, it will be a very important and interesting one. 

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