After 34-23 Loss To Redskins, Ball Is In Jerry’s Court To Fix What Ails These Cowboys
Not all 4-12 seasons are created equal. That is the saving grace for the 2015 version of the Dallas Cowboys, who showed enough promise under the reins of multiple backup quarterbacks to contend deep into the fourth quarter on a weekly basis while still demonstrating such an overall lack of big-play skills that they could lose a season finale at home to a resting Redskins team.
By a count of 34-23, the Cowboys became the fourth consecutive team to fall at the hands of division-champion Washington. It also marks their seventh consecutive defeat inside Jerry Jones’ Arlington tribute to football ineptness.
We don’t know where the Cowboys are headed with a 36-year old quarterback coming off multiple collarbone fractures, but Jones insists that it’s up. Out of salary cap jail and the beneficiaries of a high pick in the upcoming draft, Jones sees the Cowboys as a team primed to make a splash, whether that be in free-agency or the draft. Jones, who this past off-season chose to focus almost solely on the defensive side of the football, hasn’t enumerated what his plan of attack will be when free-agency begins in March. It’s safe to say his optimism has been tempered by a Cowboys team who struggled in nearly every category this season.
But there were silver-and-blue linings in defeat for Jones’ team on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Jones has been looking for some positive signs from the quarterback position now for some time. And he could console himself knowing that the Cowboys didn’t get beat for the twelfth time in 2015 on account of their signal-caller.
Kellen Moore didn’t start very fast, completing just two of his first six passes with one interception, but neither did his accomplices on defense. The Redskins piled up 139 total yards and 21 points in the first quarter.
But Moore did rebound after that to post Dallas’ first 400-yard game in more than two years. Against a depleted Washington secondary, Moore connected on 33-of-48 pass attempts for 435 yards with three touchdowns, while helping the Cowboys to their highest point output in two months.
And mention of the draft brings us to the real question about the Cowboys future. Jones deserves credit for having drafted well in recent years, especially along the offensive line. But he needs to shed the roster of locker-room distractions like Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain.
He also needs to discard his trademark rose-colored glasses while examining his roster. The four wins Dallas captured this season came as a result of either (a) Tony Romo’s brilliance or (b) oppositional ineptness, and not on the situational excellence of veterans like Dez Bryant, Morris Claiborne and Barry Church.
So the Cowboys have survived the salary-cap prison they have lived in the past two seasons. But where to now?
Is this team, with a concerned Jones in the general manager’s seat, capable of finding the pieces that will prevent a repeat performance in 2016?
It would be easy for Jones to pinpoint the marquee position as his team’s primary need in the off-season. But that’s one player. All you had to do was watch for three hours Sunday to see that the Cowboys are not a good first-round pick away from anything. Certainly no one in Washington is suggesting the Redskins have better talent than Dallas across the board, yet they were certainly credited with having the smarter team, controlling the ball for 34 minutes while forcing four turnovers.
The Cowboys have endured a rough season in 2015. But with money to play with, this franchise moves toward 2016 with greater expectations and fewer excuses for shoddy performance’s such as Sunday’s.