Excerpt: "The last time the Dallas Cowboys were embarrassed on national television on a Sunday night, the coach was gone the next day.
Jason Garrett will make it through the bye week after a 49-17 loss to New Orleans, preaching the importance of not overreacting to by far his team’s worst game in the more than two years since he was the midseason replacement for Wade Phillips.
The Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, is stressing the same thing, leaning on the biggest difference between the two debacles. Three years ago, the Cowboys were a one-win team after a 45-7 loss to Green Bay. This time, they are reminding themselves they are 5-5 and tied for the N.F.C. East lead with Philadelphia, the opponent in the season finale.
So Garrett will be on the same sideline where he made his debut in 2010 when the Cowboys visit the Giants next Sunday, perhaps with an uptick in the urgency in a season viewed as playoffs or bust for Garrett, despite Jones’s claims to the contrary.
“Has this been a perfect season up to this point? Absolutely not,” Garrett said. “We understand that. Had to deal with some different adversities, had some really good things happen for our team, and we’re in the situation that we’ve earned through 10 weeks of the season. And it’s all in front of us and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
It will not be easy.
The defense is worse than last season’s even though Jones fired the defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and replaced him with Monte Kiffin, hoping a simpler system would more easily absorb a heavy dose of injuries.
It has not happened. The Cowboys have been decimated on the defensive line the way they were at linebacker a year ago, and they have given up the first two 600-yard games in franchise history in the last three weeks.
Drew Brees picked apart Kiffin’s zone defense, and a New Orleans defense revitalized under Ryan led to one of the worst games of Tony Romo’s career: 10 completions for 128 yards. After the game, Jones questioned whether he had done the right thing dumping Ryan and bringing in Kiffin.
“You look at yourself, our whole staff, starting with me,” Kiffin said. “We critique some things on tape and this and that and maybe we tweak this and that. Get away, catch your breath. We’ll come in Monday morning, and we’re rocking and rolling now, let’s go.”
Kiffin has to start by finding a middle linebacker to replace Sean Lee for at least one game, perhaps more, after he strained a hamstring early against New Orleans. The Cowboys looked hopeless without him, most notably when the Saints rolled to a touchdown in eight running plays after they had quit throwing because they were so far ahead.
The most likely fill-in is Ernie Sims, an eight-year veteran brought in last year when Lee was lost for the season to a toe injury.
“Obviously, some of our leaders are hurt, but we want to continue to move forward with this season,” Sims said. “I think this bye week is great for us. Our leaders can get some rest and we can heal up and lick our wounds.”
One of those leaders is the pass rushing star DeMarcus Ware, who missed games for the first time in his nine-year career with a thigh injury. He returned against the Saints after a three-game absence but was reinjured. It is uncertain whether he will be ready for the Giants game.
Because of injuries, the defensive line has been a revolving door of free agents, and the secondary had three undrafted rookies on the field at the same time against Brees." Read more...