|Dallas’ D needs to finish the
plays in 2012.
In the days when Tom Landry’s Cowboys ruled the NFC East, new coaches made beating the Cowboys objective one on their agendas. George Allen took immediate aim at Dallas when to took Washington’s helm in 1970. When Dick Vermeil began his Eagles rebuilding project in 1976 he made overtaking the Cowboys his goal.
Winning your division is the NFL equivalent of crawling. You can’t sprint towards a Super Bowl until you get past your in-house rivals.
This weekend’s draft showed Dallas facing that basic reality. They had a brief moment of glory in ’09, when Wade Phillips’ defense got hot and shut out Washington and Philadelphia in a December stretch run. Since then, the pass defense has abandoned the Cowboys and this offseason, rebuilding the pass defense has taken priority over every other team need.
The reasons are obvious. Dallas has gone 9-9 in the division the last three years. The Cowboys have been strong against the Redskins, winning five or six, but have won a series of strange games, one a 7-6 taffy pull, another a 30-27 shootout. Only one of the Cowboys’ wins was by more than three points. Dallas split its games against the Eagles, but fared badly against the Eagles passing attack.
The results have been abysmal against New York. The secondary simply does not match up against the champs. The Cowboys are 1-5 against New York since ’09 and Eli Manning and his guys have topped 30 points in each of those five losses. Dallas has allowed 30 or more points in eight of those eighteen division games. The Dallas offense is powerful, but that’s too much pressure to put on Tony Romo and his skill position players.
And what did the Giants do over the weekend? They, like the Cowboys, had offensive line needs. They too put those off and re-loaded Manning’s gun, drafting running back David Wilson in the 1st and receiver Rueben Randle in the 2nd. The Redskins of course put Robert Griffin at their offensive controls and signed several veteran wide receivers to help speed his developmental curve.
The margin over Washington has been wafer thin, and the margin between the Cowboys D and the Eagles and Giants offenses has grown recently. You can’t think playoffs until you can compete with these rivals and the Cowboys can’t do this until they fix their pass defense. That leaves some offensive line spots impoverished, but as we’ve been saying for weeks here, the Cowboys only had so many picks and too many holes. They put their emphasis on defense and it’s down to Jason Garrett, Rob Ryan, Bill Callahan and Jerome Henderson to make that plan work.