America’s Team has the right players to get to the Super Bowl, though it seems they are headed for another 8-8 season, all marked by a single word: inconsistency. A team that had such an emotional season-opening victory over their much hated rival New York Giants seemed to be ready to make a statement in the first few weeks of the 2013 NFL season.
But the 2013 season has started the same as it was last year. After coming out strong in Week 1, the Cowboys laid a dud of a game, only scoring seven points in Week 2 last season against the Seattle Seahawks and scoring 16 this season against the new-look Kansas City Chiefs.
After a solid performance in Week 1 with 20 carries for 86 yards, running back DeMarco Murray finished Week 2 with 12 carries for 25 yards. Without an established run game or trying to establish a run game, the Cowboys had to rely on the arm of quarterback Tony Romo. Romo threw the ball over 40 times, completing over 30 passes in each of the first two weeks.
He had two touchdowns in Week 1 and one in Week 2, with a turnover in each game. Romo had a few very questionable throws that were behind tight end Jason Witten on what could have been a game-winning drive. The drive would stall, leading to a late field goal bringing the game to within one. To say Tony is the blame would be slightly wrong, but the question remains: why not try to establish a run game?
The Cowboys have a flyer and a guy in wide receiver Dez Bryant who can beat most guys off the line of scrimmage. He’s shown flashes in the last two seasons and in Week 2 that he can make plays down the field, making nine catches for 141 yards and the Cowboy’s only touchdown of the game.
However, without attempting to establish a run game, the team takes away some of his ability. It showed late in the game against the Chiefs when the Cowboys stalled in Kansas City territory and were forced to kick a field goal.
Though that’s not the only issue with Dez, he is also prone to dropped balls, and there was one monumental drop against Kansas City. Streaking down the sideline past his defender, Bryant had a ball go right off his hands. A catch, if made, would have at the very least kept the drive alive, but he may have well scored on the play if caught.
Not only is the offense not playing consistent football, neither is the defense. After forcing six turnovers against the Giants in Week 1, the Cowboys didn’t force a single one in against Kansas City. Though they only allowed 17 points in Week 2 compared to 31 in Week 1, the defense wasn’t the same.
Alex Smith seemed comfortable in the pocket for most of the game. Without pressure on the passer, the defensive backs have to stay plastered to their man longer; and with more time to pass, receivers find ways to get open or draw penalties. This was evident late in the fourth quarter on a crucial third-down play when Morris Claiborne was called for passing interference, a penalty that really put the game out of reach for the Cowboys.
Inconsistent play on both sides of the ball gets you an even win-loss record (1-1). It’s this type of play that leads to 8-8 records come Week 17 and no playoffs for Dallas over the last two seasons.
Will the Cowboys come out and take a Week 3 victory at home against the St. Louis Rams? They will if all aspects of the team play consistent football for four quarters. This team is better than 1-1 and better than 8-8, but when you don’t play well for four quarters, you lose games you should have won.
Consistency is the key to really going far in the NFL. If they can put it all together consistently, wins — and the playoffs — are on the way for the Cowboys.