IRVING, Texas – That the Dallas Cowboys were forced to turn back the clock on Friday by conducting their 90-minute practice in a driving rainstorm was quite fitting.
This team has been operating under storm clouds for nearly the past nine months.
Right, think about it, going all the way back to Dec. 22, 2013, when quarterback Tony Romo's bulging disk made nearly-incapacitating contact with his spinal cord in that game against the Washington Redskins, forcing him into the operating room five days later.
Let the dark clouds come rolling in.
A week later, with a final-possession chance to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the last game of the season to decide the NFC East title, Romo's replacement, Kyle Orton, is intercepted. Hello 8-8 and no playoffs … again.
Next came the bleak offseason when attempting to clear up current and future cap problems, the Cowboys decide to release all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware and not even offer their 2013 sack leader Jason Hatcher a free-agent contract.
Further problem, they had little to no money for free-agent speculating, forcing them to nibble around the edges, betting on some low risks to produce high rewards.
Now the draft, thinking they had their guy in the first round at No. 16, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, only for Pittsburgh to snatch him up at 15. And even worse, when they couldn't trade down for much-needed pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence and maybe pick up a third, they simply took now starting guard Zack Martin and then were forced to use a third of their own to move up high enough in the second to grab Lawrence.
Enough, right? Un-uh. More storm clouds.
The Cowboys lose Sean Lee in the first offseason practice, the defensive leader tearing his ACL in a non-contact OTA workout of all things. Gone for the season.
And if there were three players the Cowboys simply couldn't do without if last year's historically-poor defense was to rebound, with Lee being one of them, they then lost Lawrence for eight-to-12 weeks with a broken bone in his foot and found out starting/slot cornerback Orlando Scandrick would be suspended for the first four games of the season.
Then there were losing all four preseason games, the suspensions and off-field shenanigans. Just one thing after another after another.
Did I forget anything?
Oh yeah, the seemingly physically-rehabbed Romo returning for the season opener, only to get intercepted on three consecutive possessions, and that after starting the season with a false start, an 18-yard completion for a first down and a DeMarco Murray fumble returned for a touchdown, all setting the tone for that demoralizing 28-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, their fans having a good, ol' time at AT&T Stadium at the Cowboys' expense.
Wouldn't believe it if hadn't lived through it all, the dreary repercussions this week from that loss seemingly culminating in Friday's rain-soaked practice, all for some reason causing this 1971 song to start looping in my head:
It Don't Come Easy, by Ringo Starr, his hit single centering on the price you have to pay if you want to sing the blues, with this particular verse hitting home:
Forget about the past and all your sorrows
The future won't last
It will soon be over tomorrow
Oh, the Cowboys can only hope they can forget all these past sorrows.
Good advice by the Beatles drummer for even these Dallas Cowboys, 0-1 and heading into Sunday's noon start against the Tennessee Titans, a group sure to be fired up for this one after opening the season with a road win in Kansas City. On top of that, you can bet those Titans fans will have LP Field rocking, knowing their team has the rare chance to start a season 2-0, something the Titans haven't done since winning the first 10 games in 2008 for what represents their only 2-0 start in the past 14 seasons.
The Cowboys simply can't dwell on the past, otherwise they will find themselves still singing those blues. Gosh, seemingly been forever since something good has happened around here. Just gloom, gloom, gloom ever since the limping Romo tossed that short, game-winning touchdown pass to Murray in the final seconds of the Game 15 must-win over the Redskins.
And they certainly must not start fretting the future should they lose this game, dropping to the oh-no, 0-2, especially with everyone seemingly reminding them about the low percentages of a 0-2 team eventually landing in the playoffs, although I remember the same song sung back in 1993 when the Cowboys, the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys playing without holdout Emmitt Smith, being told no team has ever gone to a Super Bowl starting the season off with a 0-2 record.
Sometimes it's good to be trailblazers.
Now, I'm not subscribing to the 0-2 curse, especially since I truly believe this team has a chance to improve as the season goes along. Sometimes we forget this is a young team, a relatively new team. Do you realize that 34 of the 53 players on this roster as of Friday have no more than three years of NFL experience? Do you realize that 15 of those 34 players are starters, including the kicker and punter, and that if we include the third wide receiver and the nickel corner the total increases to 17?
Hey, you only start 25 if you include the kickers and deep snapper. That's a whole lot of youth.
But me, better than most, understand the territory. None of that matters. You play for the Dallas Cowboys, winners of five Super Bowls and having participated in eight. You play for the Dallas Cowboys, once producers of 20 consecutive winning seasons. You play for the Dallas Cowboys, where expectations are sky high no matter if Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman are at quarterback or if it just happens to be some Steve Pelluer or Quincy Carter.
Look, this past Sunday was not good. How appropriate the game started with a false start for the Cowboys. The whole game was a false start, even though no one gave the Cowboys a snowball's chance in hell to win the game beforehand. Romo knows he has to be one of the best players on the field that day if the Cowboys are to have a chance to win, and no way finishing a game with a minus-4 turnover differential will result in anything to write home about.
Why, the Cowboys fan had been filled with so much negativity before the game he sold out to the only-too-happy-to-overpay 49ers fan. Most of the frustrated seemed to be expecting the worse, which is exactly what they got.
But that, too, I understand if we look at the litany of the aforementioned depressing events. What's to get excited about? Players play. Fans brag, and those rights have been suspended for now. [embedded_ad]
That is why Sunday's game against the Titans is so important to the Cowboys. Not necessarily to avoid a 0-2 start so much as to start sweeping those storm clouds away. Just do something for everyone to stand up and shout about.
Something to make everyone feel good about, and that more so for the players and this coaching staff than anyone else. Gloom and doom gets old. Just wears on you. The Cowboys need something good to happen, and happen soon.
Maybe an inspiring performance by one of those youngin's. Maybe a spectacular play by Dez. Maybe another 12-tackle game by a possibly-resurgent Rolando McClain. Maybe an interception or two, or someone with a couple of sacks, so they no longer have to hear how Ware and Hatcher combined for more sacks last Sunday than the entire Cowboys defense, 2.5-1.
Or heaven forbid, a coveted victory, something the Cowboys haven't had, regular season or preseason, since back on that Dec. 22 of last year.
Just something, man, to chase those blues away.
And how we know, it definitely don't come easy.