FRISCO, Texas – First of all, Happy Holidays, before we take some shots here.
And with one game remaining in the 2019 regular season – catch that, regular season, because you never know, don't let the Cowboys 7-8 record bring you down.
Obviously, this is not what any of us expected, including players, coaches, front office personnel and ownership. The late-great Tex Schramm once said, and told Jerry Jones the same thing right after he bought the team in 1989, being involved with the Cowboys would be the greatest job ever if you just didn't have to play the games.
How true, how true, while being involved in the greatest reality theater ever.
Just remember, it ain't over until it's over.
- Real Bummer: The Cowboys have placed linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and guard Xavier Su'a-Filo on injured reserve, Su'a-Filo undergoing surgery Monday to repair what's basically a really bad high ankle sprain, where the fibula is fractured and the ligament is severely sprained. Vander Esch will have his surgery in a few weeks. The Cowboys had been hoping medically treating his cervical herniation of the disk between the fifth and sixth vertebrae would reduce the swelling. The most recent examination reveals no herniation reduction. Vander Esch will now undergo an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion procedure. This entails removing the herniated disk and using bone from the hip to fuse into the space between the two vertebrae. Typically full recovery takes four months. This is not expected to be career threatening, and know several former Cowboys players underwent this procedure and continued their careers: Daryl Johnston, Rocket Ismail, Chad Hennings and Izell Reese to name a few. How well was LVE playing? Well, the second-year linebacker has missed six of the last eight games – five straight – and was unable to finish a ninth, but his 87 total tackles still ranks third on the Cowboys to only Jaylon Smith's 155 and Sean Lee's 103. Next closest to LVE is Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods tied with 79.
- All In: That's Ezekiel Elliott. Christmas Eve was the player's normal weekly off day, though a few needed to drop by for treatment if necessary. Well, we saw Zeke out on the practice field getting a light jog in. Rushing for 1,000 yards three times now in his four-year career does not come without hard work, and as tough as this season has been for him, Zeke still has 1,235 yards and a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns. And remember, even though he was suspended six games in 2017, he missed reaching 1,000 yards for the only time in his career by 17 yards.
- Motivating Fear: Even though the Cowboys have fallen out of first place in the NFC East for the first time since last season, the overwhelming theme this week has been to take care of your own business by beating the 3-12 Redskins, even though they know if the Eagles beat the 4-11 Giants to clinch the division title it won't matter what they do. But here is definitely what the Cowboys should be most fearful of: Coming out unmotivated and losing to Washington and then the Giants beat the Eagles, who still would win the East at 8-8, a game ahead of the 7-9 Cowboys. How could you sleep at night knowing that had you beaten Washington to finish 8-8, the title would have been yours based on a better division record, 5-1 to 4-2? That would be downright shameful, the last straw in a disappointing season.
- Christmas Past: You know, the Cowboys were in a somewhat similar situation Christmas time 1995. At 11-4, they were tied with San Francisco for the top seed in the NFC playoffs, with the 49ers holding the edge based on a 38-20 victory over the Cowboys earlier in the season. The Niners were playing the Falcons on Sunday, Christmas Eve. The Cowboys season finale was Monday, Christmas night against the Cardinals. No matter what the Cowboys would have done, the Niners would have clinched the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs by beating the 8-7 Falcons. Well, as the Cowboys were flying to Phoenix, they found out the 49ers had lost to Atlanta, 28-27, handing the Cowboys a huge Christmas gift. And the Cowboys accepted the present with open arms, soundly defeating the Cardinals, 37-13, on Christmas to claim the No. 1 seed at 12-4, a game better than San Francisco, which they gladly enjoyed on their way to winning Super Bowl XXX. Never say never.
- Don't Come Easy: Don't think the Cowboys have received a huge break this week since Redskins starting quarterback, rookie Dwayne Haskins, already has been ruled out with an ankle injury. That means they must face veteran Case Keenum, who by the way, in Week 2 completed 26 of 37 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns (QB rating of 103.5), though losing to the Cowboys, 31-21. Don't you know his motivation will be sky high.
And while most are throwing in the towel, let's remember, when the Eagles played the Giants on Monday night, Dec. 9, at The Linc, the Eagles did not tie the game at 17 until 1:53 was left, and needed a first-possession overtime touchdown to win, 23-17. But remember, got to take care of yourself before a Meadowlands Miracle helps out.