TAMPA, Fla. – First off, let me promise you guys this is an original article. It's not one of the regurgitated pieces that I wrote a few weeks ago against the Saints, or maybe in New York or even at home with Seattle.
This is a new one. But you can totally see how I might have been able to just swap out a few details here and there and keep the same one. That has to be the most frustrating part of this entire losing streak. It's frustrating for the players and coaches, and definitely for the fans, as I can already see from my email inbox. And, it's even frustrating for us to cover and try to explain.
The results are the same each week, but this one seems to be much worse, especially because of the opponent.
Honestly, I've never seen anything like this before. Of course, I've never seen a seven-game losing streak with this team, but I've never even seen this many close games just go one way – every time.
That's what is so crazy here. These are close games that just aren't going to the Cowboys, and after seven weeks, I don't think it's a coincidence at all. There is definitely something holding this team back – it's just not the same thing every week.
A lot of times it has been the lack of generating turnovers and the turnover margin. The Cowboys turn that around in their favor with two key takeaways, and it's still not enough to turn the tide.
After the last few games of no pressure and no turnovers, the Cowboys picked it up this week. But like we've seen here for the last two months, if it's not one thing, it's another.
This week, it was the lack of production in the running game, which led to the struggling passing game.
But like is the case on both offense and defense, it starts with the run. All you need to know about the Cowboys' ability to run is their own decision with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-1 on their own 18 with 4:13 to play, the Cowboys opted against leaning on their built-from-within, tough-as-nails offensive line and went for a 1-on-1 pass to Dez Bryant, who probably should've come down with the catch, but couldn't win this one over former Cowboy Sterling Moore.
Not only does it burn a Tampa Bay timeout either way, but getting a single yard on the ground was likely the best way move the sticks and chew up some clock.
That comes down to the offensive line not seizing the moment when the game was on the line.
Personally, I'd like to think drafting three first-round picks is the reason that offensive line was considered the best in football last year. But right now, it's hard to see that it wasn't just Tony Romo's ability to scramble and put players and linemen in the perfect position, which has made the offense click with Romo in the center.
I think the same goes for just about every spot. None of these skills players are living up to the same expectations that were met with Romo here. Yeah, he comes back this week, but it really might be too little too late.
And it's not just the offensive line. None of these guys are really performing to the level we thought they could coming into the season. Blame it on whatever you'd like because you could be right.
Maybe it's only Romo's injury. Maybe it's the distractions we're seeing in the locker room. Maybe it's the fact these guys aren't as good as we thought.
Who knows, blame the T-shirts if you'd like. Right now I don't see a team that is "Relentless."
I don't see a team that has any "BAM's" right now. We're seeing some "FIGHT," but definitely not any "FINISH the FIGHT."
And I can promise you this, there's absolutely nothing close to the word "HAH" right now for this team.
These are some of Jason Garrett's slogans and messages, but none of them apply right now. Either the team isn't taking them from the thread to the head, or they're simply not good enough.
But these Cowboys have now lost seven straight games. These Cowboys just lost to a pretty bad football team and didn't even score a touchdown in the process.
You can sit here and argue that the NFC East division is so bad that these guys still have a shot. But based on what we saw on Sunday here in Tampa, they don't have the ability to take advantage of a favorable situation.