Dallas Cowboys: The Blame Game

The Dallas Cowboys set a record for futility during Sunday’s contest against the New Orleans Saints on more than one occasion. Not only did Monte Kiffin’s defense give up a franchise record 625 yards of total offense, but they also allowed 40 first downs to Sean Payton’s high powered offense. Many will point to the injuries on that side of ball; however, that is just a microcosm of the real issue.

This team has been outcoached on more than one occasion; just three weeks ago the Cowboys gave up a then franchise record of 623 yards of total offense to the Detroit Lions. This season alone this defense has given up 400 yards or more passing to Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and Matthew Stafford. They came within eight yards of allowing Drew Brees to do the same. Other than the game against Eli, each game resulted in a loss for the Cowboys.

So far this season they have given up 4,398 yards on defense, which equates to 439.8 yards per game. That is by far the worst in the NFL. To put that into perspective the Tampa Bay Buccaneers give up 348 yards per game, which is 16th in the NFL. The Bucs are also without a win this season. They are on pace to give up 7,036 yards which would rank them second worst in history just six yards shy of the Saints 2012 defense. Dallas also ranks 23rd in the NFL giving up 25.8 points per game.

The inefficiencies on offense can also lead straight to their problems on defense. When you look at the numbers of franchise quarterback Tony Romo, you wouldn’t think there is an issue for Romo on offense. Through 10 games he has thrown for 2,681 yards, 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Romo is currently on pace for 4,290 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. That would be a very successful season from a pure stat standpoint.

If you take away the Denver game, Romo has been very mediocre this season. Even with 2,100 yards passing, 15 touchdowns with five interceptions this offense has been very inept. In terms of being inept is mainly due to not giving this defense any time to rest. While the Cowboys do average 29 minutes per game in terms of time of possession, the defense was on the field against the Saints for 40 minutes.

In that game Dallas ran a total of 43 plays to the Saints 80. The Cowboys had the ball for 10 drives going 0-9 on third down. The most mind-boggling stat from this game was the Cowboys were penalized more times than they had completed passes 11 or 10. This team has shown that they lack discipline which is indicative of the coaching staff.

If you have to throw the blame on this football team this year, there wouldn’t be a fair answer. Between the two coordinators both sides of the ball had their worst performances of the season. The road moving forward doesn’t look too promising either. The Saints showed the NFL just how you take the Cowboys main weapon Dez Bryant completely out of the game. He was only targeted twice in the game for one reception and 44 yards.

Defensively the Cowboys should expect these types of performances to be a weekly occurrence. The Cowboys have only had three of their projected starters who have not missed any time due to injury. Bruce Carter is the only member of the front seven to not miss any time. With the news of Sean Lee and Justin Durant gone for the next three to four weeks, expect the type of defense that played the second half of Sunday’s game. The way this season is playing out, I don’t expect to see Jason Garrett on the sideline much longer.