Dr. Jerry’s Medical Update Rings Loud & Clear For A Cowboys Defense Lacking Productive Players
On a sleepy, slow-news Tuesday in north Texas earlier this week, the unthinkable happened. One of America’s true veterans of all things long-winded threw his audience a bone that was anything but the usual milk-fed stuff he is known for. This was informational sustenance of a rare order. So hold on to your seat.
Under the heading of News of the Day was…,well,… Jerry. Or Jerry’s voice, to be exact. Or Jerry’s words, to be more exact.
I know, I know. At 2-6 on the season, being soaked with the gospel of our local Jones patriarch is nowhere near the top of anyone’s to-do-list. Jerry can be amusing when his team is winning, something far less when they are not. But that doesn’t mean that Jerry is incapable of adapting to circumstances.
It’s a long-standing fact in the NFL that a record-setting losing streak deserves a record-setting owner. The Cowboys, it just so happens, are blessed with both. Among his long and winding discourse on all things Valley Ranch during his weekly radio spot on 105.3-FM The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday morning, Jerry Jones let something slip that should actually be noted for those who plan on watching Sunday’s noon stop in Tampa for the Cowboys. (For quite possibly the first time in 26 years, Jones’ radio gig served a valid social purpose.)
Sean Lee, the great Cowboys linebacker who left Sunday night’s game versus Philadelphia in the third quarter, was, in Jones’ words, “probably doubtful” to play against the Buccaneers while recovering from a concussion. Considering the fact that Dallas won a division crown in 2014 without a single on-the-field contribution from Lee, this may not seem like the greatest of losses. Last time I checked the calendar, though, and not to mention the NFL standings, this is not 2014. Far from it, in fact.
Chalk up this latest injury update (only in Jerry World can a player be “probably doubtful” for an upcoming game) as just another bad day at the office for Jason Garrett and staff in 2015, who, when not reprimanding Greg Hardy in private, are dealing with the public evidence of a fast-deteriorating defensive unit.
If the eye-ball test is a true indicator, the Dallas defense cannot function without Lee in the lineup. Not against the Eagles, as we all saw on Sunday night. Not against the under-powered right arm of Drew Brees in Week 4. And probably not against a lowly offense like the Bucs have, either.
With Lee on the field, the defense is tolerable for three quarters, even good at times. Without him, they look completely overmatched. This is alarming, to say the least.
I can recall no single defensive player whose presence was so obviously vital to his unit’s performance, unless it was Prime Time, but even that scenario fails to reach this level. Deion was the glue that made the Dallas defense an elite force. But Dave Campo’s bunch didn’t exactly lay down and play dead while Deion was nursing toe injuries during the late ‘90s.
And don’t try to make the numbers say what we all know isn’t the case. The Dallas defense isn’t average right now, not even close. Per the league chart, Rod Marinelli’s unit ranks fifteenth in total defense. Well, burn the chart. Anyone watching the Dallas defense these past eight weeks knows that a middle-of-the-pack ranking via a statistical chart is far too generous of a landing-place for them while living on a football globe that rotates on the unquestionable rudiments of the won-loss record. The Dallas defense is only as good as their current record, which, at this point, is scum-sucking bad.
Which raises the question: Where are the rest of the playmakers in Lee’s absence? Where have they been while he’s been on the field, for that matter?
Rolando McClain? He’s either suspended, overweight, or simply out of position. There are certain humorists who claim that is McClain’s perpetual state.
Anthony Hitchens? The prognosis from team doctors this week on the ankle injury that Hitchens suffered against the Eagles sounded far from promising for a return this Sunday. Hitchens, like Lee, will likely be a no-show for Sunday’s matchup with Tampa Bay.
An All-Pro in mid-August during training camp, Tyrone Crawford has been AWOL in too many run and pass situations, which seems par for the course along the majority of the Dallas defensive line.
I know this may hurt the sensitive ear, but Greg Hardy (yes, the one and the same) has been Dallas’ most consistent player on the defensive side of the ball, excepting of course Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr, both of whom have been overshadowed by the ineptitude around them.
Were there news of an impending reversal of course for your Cowboys this week, then you would have certainly read about it in this column. But, upon reflection and a close inspection of the current status of the Dallas defense, I have found such a turnaround to be “probably doubtful.”
And if you don’t believe me, well, then just ask Jerry.