The Time To Panic Debate… Big D is in Deep Trouble

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2010 season with great expectations. With Cowboys Stadium playing host to the Super Bowl this season, Dallas wasn’t just playing to make the playoffs but to secure home field advantage in the NFL’s most important game. As lofty a goal as that may have seemed before the season, it seems even more improbable now that the Cowboys are off to a 1-4 start. Now the Cowboys are merely trying to get out of the cellar of the NFC East.

This would be a bad start for any franchise in the NFL, but it is even worse for the Dallas Cowboys. Just like the old adage, “Everything is bigger in Texas!” Their abysmal start has pretty much killed the dreams of a playoff appearance. But I would say that it is also indicative of a much bigger problem… or should I say problems.

The Cowboys need a new vision. They need a new coach. And they need a new running game. In short the Dallas Cowboys need a Texas-sized overhaul.

The current game plan isn’t working for the Cowboys. They are a one dimensional team that the rest of the league has figured out. Their “pass, pass, and if all else fails pass” approach just does not work without the right personnel (i.e. Peyton Manning). Looking at the stats. The Dallas Cowboys boast one of the most potent passing games in the NFL, but that claim is somewhat misleading. The Cowboys excel at the pass because they must. The team lacks any semblance of balance. The Cowboys have an incredible wealth of receiving talent in Miles Austin, Jason Whitten, Dez Bryant, and Roy Williams, but their ineffective rushing attack leaves them vulnerable.

Marion Barber was at one time among the most capable backs in the NFL, but not any longer. He isn’t even the most effective rusher on his own team, as Felix Jones was posting better yards per attempt than Barber through week six. Thus far running backs in Dallas have only scored one rushing touchdown. That definitely does not pose a threat to opposing defensive coordinators, and until something changes, opposing defenses can focus on shutting down the passing game.

Adding to the dysfunction in Dallas is the team’s lack of discipline. The team ranks in the top third of the league in number of penalties and penalty yardage. Similarly, turnovers have been a problem as the Cowboys rank near the very bottom of the league in turnovers lost compared with takeaways. These problems are fixable, but they are matters of personnel and coaching. Since we all know Jerry Jones isn’t about to relinquish managerial control, the the Cowboys must do something about the latter.

The time has come for the Cowboys to cut some dead weight, starting with the head coach. Wade Phillips is not the coach Dallas needs right now. Obviously he is somewhat effective having led the Cowboys to the playoff twice in three full seasons as head coach, but that really isn’t good enough. In Dallas the expectation isn’t to simply make the playoffs, but to WIN. Phillips has taken the team as far as one victory in the wild card round in the 2009 post-season, but that’s it. After dropping four of the first five games it looks like this season isn’t going to pan out either. His inability to win the big games and address the sloppy play that continues to be the albatross around the Cowboys neck should show Jerry Jones it is time to move on from Wade Phillips.

But, the most obvious and frustrating aspect of the Cowboys failures is the lack of a running game. A successful rushing attack would certainly open up the pass. Obviously the team should capitalize on its strength – passing. But, the lack of effective rushing is one of the things hold the Dallas back. Obviously every team wants to rush the ball well, but the Cowboys should be in a position to do that. Jerry Jones is a competitive owner who is not afraid to throw money around in order to get the players he wants, but it seems since Emmitt Smith led Dallas the running backs haven’t been a top priority target. There were difference making players that were available this off-season – most notably LaDainian Tomlinson – as well as players available via trade during the season – like Marshawn Lynch – if the Cowboys felt they needed another back. Instead it appears that Dallas will stick with Barber and Jones and hope something changes. This approach doesn’t seem reasonable for a team that wants to compete and be the best.

It’s definitely panic time in Dallas. Jerry Jones should break out the broom and clean house. He can hang onto a few key guys – Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and DeMarcus Ware – but the rest can go. The Cowboys need top down reform. They need a new coach with a different, more balanced vision. They need fresh players who can breathe some new life into a storied franchise suddenly fallen on hard times, and sweeping reform is the way to go.

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