Thoughts on the 2008 Dallas Cowboys

Terrell Owens needs to be dropped from the roster like one of his flubs on almost any key third down.

Terrell Owens needs to be dropped from the roster like one of his flubs on almost any key third down.

It is hard to stomach giving an assessment of the 2008 Dallas Cowboys’ season like I did for the Texas Longhorns. Frankly, I’ve blocked most of it out of memory. It was a season of high expectations initially but ultimately disappointment. That has become a familiar pattern for Cowboys fans. I was pretty disgusted when the season ended for numerous reasons, but now with a few months of perspective, I’ve tried to summarize the key points:

  • The season in a nutshell: The offense was good in the beginning of the season, while the defense was bad; in the second half of the season the roles reversed. I think the offense started well when everyone was healthy. Rookie RB Felix Jones looked to be a perfect explosive compliment to bullish Marion Barber. But when they got hurt, the running game struggled despite a respectable job by Tashard Choice. Without the running game threat, teams swarmed Tony Romo and the passing game struggled. The defense underperformed early on, causing Dallas to lose some games it shouldn’t despite scoring a lot of points. Later when Wade Phillips took over the defensive coordinator role, the defense noticeably improved but by then the offense had fallen apart. Bottom line, the team was inconsistent and couldn’t seem to put together a complete game.
  • Terrell Owens is no longer a superstar. He’s now an above average receiver, but the tantrums, selfishness, and divisiveness that comes with him is no longer worth the headache. It is clear he is driving a wedge on the team between Jason Witten and Romo and some of the top players like Barber and Newman, just as he did in SF and Philly. I hate to use the cliche, but he epitomizes “locker room cancer.” This seemed obvious at the end of the season that he was at the heart of the chemistry problems on the team. I’m shocked that he hasn’t yet been cut. I think Jerry Jones’ ego is the only logical reason it hasn’t happened yet. I’m going to be really pissed if Owens is on the team next year. It will also be hard not to expect the same dysfunctional outcome for the team.
  • I think Wade Phillips showed in the second half of the season, he knows how to coach defense, and I think that’s what saved his hide. But whether he has the strength of personality to deal with the various prima donnas on this team, I’m not sure. Just once, I’d love to see Phillips (or Romo) get in Owens face during one of his sideline tirades and tell him to shut the f*%& up and stop dropping so many balls.
  • I must admit when Dallas traded for Roy Williams from Detroit last season, I was excited. As a Longhorn fan, I can still remember seeing Williams’ first diving catch as a true freshman and thinking he would someday be a star in the NFL. He was big, strong, acrobatic, had great hands and had been the Texas high school champion in the 100 meter sprint and long jump. Williams had some success in Detroit including a Pro Bowl season, despite being stuck on the worst team in the league. So when he came to Dallas it seemed like a marriage in heaven: Dallas needed a young complementary stud WR to go with Owens, and Williams would get to come to his home state and finally play with a big time offense. But somewhere along the line, the marriage failed, at least in the first season. I’m not sure if the blame lies with Romo not looking his way enough because of his comfort in throwing to Witten and Owens, or if Williams just wasn’t getting open. Or perhaps the stalled running game prevented Dallas from throwing downfield much. Whatever the reason, Williams was somewhat of a disappointment the first season. I hope he comes around in 2009. Perhaps if Owens is banished as he should be, Williams will assume the role of top receiver. If that happens though, Dallas could still use a quick, elusive type receiver to go with Williams. During last season’s draft I wanted Dallas to draft Desean Jackson to fit that role, and he proved to be excellent with the Eagles (of all teams). Still the guy Dallas did pick, Felix Jones, looked pretty good before getting hurt.
  • Though he has received a ton of flack, I still believe Tony Romo is one of the most talented quarterbacks in this league. When you have a top quarterback, you have a chance to go to the playoffs and make a run every season if you plug in the right players around him. Romo is elusive, athletic, accurate, and is a charismatic leader. He is also fearless, almost to a fault. He reminds me a lot of his idol, Brett Favre, in that sometimes he gets himself into trouble trying to do too much, which leads to sacks or turnovers at the worst of times. He needs to temper that impulse a little and play a little more conservatively like Ben Roethlisberger. I think many of his misfortunes though have just been the result of bad luck, such as the fumbled field goal hold against Seattle in the playoffs a couple of years ago. Sure I would agree flying to Mexico with Jessica Simpson the week before a big playoff game was not a good idea, especially from a PR perspective. Can’t fault Romo for enjoying the perks of his position, but I kind of wish he would tone down the nightlife and jetset, celebrity tabloid lifestyle. Still, you gotta love a guy who worked himself from an undrafted free agent that nobody had heard of to becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback for America’s Team. I think Dallas has some problems they need to fix to get over the hump, but I don’t think Romo is one of them. If the fundamental split on your team is between a young, franchise quarterback and an immature, selfish, over-the-hill wide receiver, to me the answer is obvious—get rid of Owens. That’s a no-brainer.

    Despite some struggles in big games, I still believe Tony Romo is a franchise quarterback.

    Despite his struggles in some big games, I still believe Tony Romo is a franchise quarterback.

  • Looking to 2009, even Cowboys haters have to admit Dallas still has a very talented team that could potentially make a run. Las Vegas oddsmakers have Dallas near the top of the heap in terms of odds of going to the Super Bowl. And if they can re-tool a little and stay healthy, who knows. So far this offseason though, I haven’t seen enough action taken to rid the team of the problems they suffered last season, which leads me to believe it will be another frustrating, underachieving season.  But as long as the Eagles still don’t have even one Super Bowl championship, I can find some satisfaction in a season.
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~ by jonwbecker on March 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on the 2008 Dallas Cowboys”

  1. I guess Jerry Jones was reading because TO got the boot the day after I posted this. Glad he’s gone but now the Cowboys seriously need another receiver and have almost no draft picks or cap space. Oh well, they did what they had to do. I hope the Redskins take Owens and suffer the same fate we did.

  2. Well, no, the Redskins didn’t, but Buffalo did, as you should know by now. I think Williams will do fine with a full camp, and more familiarity with the system.If the Cowboys can stay reasonably healthy, I believe they can make a run. New back up Qb is the main thing, and good riddance to Noodle Arm as well as the Pack Rat and Terribly Offensive.
    Good thoughts.

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