How ‘bout them Cowboys?
That rhetorical cliché was, of course, made famous by Jimmy Johnson after winning the 1992 NFC Championship game. For whatever reason, it has been kept alive by fans and media alike for the last two decades.
Its meaning is defined by who says it, when they say it and how they say it. Dallas Cowboys fans say it the same way Johnson said it, with joyous exclamation. Cowboys haters say it with sarcasm, usually after an ugly loss.
I say it with genuine concern. How ‘bout them Cowboys? How ‘bout that Dez Bryant? How ‘bout that secondary? How ‘bout that Tony Romo?
We’re a quarter way through the season and not far from preseason projections. Meaning, a 2-2 record going into their Week 5 bye isn’t surprising. I’m sure no one with any football common sense thought the Cowboys would be 4-0. I think most expected them to lose to the Giants in the season opener and then easily handle the Buccaneers and the Seahawks, then play a close game with the Bears that could go either way, resulting in a 2-2 record.
None of that happened, but the results are effectively the same. The only difference is that the Cowboys don’t feel like a .500 team. They don’t feel like they are only one game out of first place.
They suffer from the symptoms of a team headed for a last place finish. They are the 29th most penalized team in the league. They’re ranked 31st in rushing yards per game and 30th in points per game. The defense has been good but failed the test when they hosted Brandon Marshall and the Chicago Bears.
The offensive line is an epidemic. The receivers are struggling to get open or even run the correct routes. The quarterback has thrown five touchdowns to eight interceptions.
There’s an all too familiar lack of focus and preparation to open the 2012 season. But they are .500. They are one game out of first place. They are 1-0 in the division. The question is, are they a playoff team?
The answer lies in a game-by-game outlook for the rest of the season.