The Dallas Cowboys suffered a horrendous loss to the Seattle Seahawks last weekend. But before you probably had a chance to crack open your first drink or bite into your first wing, the game was already in the stages of unraveling.
Felix Jones began the debacle by promptly fumbling the opening kickoff, which led to a quick Seattle field goal. Considering the circumstances, only giving up three points was the only victory the Cowboys would win all day. Dallas then went three-and-out against the vaunted Seahawks defense, which is so unstoppable, only to see Chris Jones' impression of a body surfer quickly turn the game into a 10-0 affair.
It seems like the Cowboys are always good for at least one annual blocked punt for a touchdown. A few years ago Mat McBriar had a punt blocked against the Arizona Cardinals and he broke his foot in the process. Last year, it was Isiah Trufant's blocked punt for the New York Jets that completely swung the momentum in their favor. Yes, ramming my tongue in a car door is suddenly becoming an option.
Can you sense the frustration? When was the last time the Cowboys blocked a punt and scored a touchdown? Or had a decent kickoff return? I know Joe DeCamillis is a good coach but what is so special about our special teams?
Unlike the opening night contest at MetLife Stadium, the Cowboys didn't have any of their stars shining against Seattle. DeMarco Murray wasn't ripping off big runs and had little room to run. This forced Tony Romo into an average game as the Cowboys became one-dimensional.
Jason Witten had three dropped passes and looked slow on running his routes. He was probably a lot healthier but he just looked a little out of sorts and those dropped passes are very uncharacteristic of his game.
Miles Austin recorded a touchdown pass for the second straight week, and for the Cowboys, it appears his playmaking ability is back. But his performance wasn't without flaws either. On a few occasions when Romo was scrambling you could see Austin breaking off his route and sort of letting up on the play itself. If this team is going to deliver on their message of finishing, then that applies to every single snap.
Dez Bryant had a few drops as well and on one play he was more concerned with wrestling the defender than protecting the ball. He actually did fumble but Doug Free was there to recover. Overall, it was an inconsistent performance by Bryant and that needs to change if he plans on becoming an elite receiver for this team.
The Cowboys were within plenty of striking distance only being down 13-7 at halftime. If you take away the 10 points Dallas spotted Seattle and a poor offensive performance, Dallas still looked like favorites to win the game. But the Cowboys never showed up in the second half.
Marshawn Lynch began to gash the Cowboys defense and suddenly stopping the run became an insurmountable task. Seattle began piling up the yards and Rob Ryan's unit began falling apart. Russell Wilson began using his feet a little more, you can sense the defense was wearing down and when Anthony McCoy caught that touchdown pass, that was the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Ryan's unit was responsible for 17 points but it was a very poor performance. Very few adjustments were made, the pressure was average and there was just an overall lack of intensity. Wilson should have been exposed to a massive and fierce pass rush all day. Instead, he gained confidence, held up well under what little pass rush the Cowboys generated and made enough plays in the second half to put the game out of reach.
So now, Wilson looks like a mature rookie and the Dallas Cowboys look like a team searching for an identity. The season is only two weeks old but between two performances, which Cowboys team is real and which one is the impostor?
There is a big difference between beating the defending champions by showing great execution, making big plays and having the mental toughness to close out the victory and losing to a team with a rookie quarterback that totally outplayed you. The Cowboys have displayed both ends of that spectrum to the fans and a case of mistaken identity to themselves.
The same argument can be made for every team only two weeks into the season and it's questionable which teams really have a true identity at this point. But are the Cowboys even looking for one or are they just headed for the same roller coaster as last season?
The Cowboys need an identity and that starts by establishing one. We saw it opening night, we saw what this team is capable of, but the same cannot be said exactly one week later. It looks more like a case of mistaken identity. Every season has its fill of adversity and bumps, but great teams always go back to the foundation and the identity of their makeup to pull them out of it.
If the Cowboys can come out and soundly beat a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, then maybe the Seattle game was a bad day across the board. In the end, style points don't matter at all as long as the Cowboys emerge victoriously. The outcome of this game will at least let us know if the Cowboys are closer to establishing an identity as opposed to still looking for one.
Let's hope Vincent Jackson and the Buccaneers don't stand in their way.
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