As the Dallas Cowboys make one last push to get into the NFL playoffs this year, they have a big obstacle to overcome: themselves.
Mistakes and Injuries
For the 2011 Dallas Cowboys, though facing formidable opponents at times, the biggest challenges have been untimely penalties, questionable coaching decisions, inconsistent quarterback play, a defense that has lost its edge against the run, and injuries.
In the early part of the season, the Cowboys put themselves at a disadvantage by having many more turnovers than their opponents, attributable in large part to bad communication between Tony Romo, the Dallas quarterback, and his receivers. In the past several games, however, Romo has minimized the mistakes while connecting with receivers Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson for some big pass plays.
For several games, the Cowboys were missing their number one wide receiver, Miles Austin, and their number one running back, Felix Jones. Receivers, Bryant and Robinson, have performed very well, and Miles Austin was not missed a great deal. The story is also true of Felix Jones’ absence from the lineup. Rookie DeMarco Murray, Jones’ replacement at running back, performed extraordinarily well, setting the rookie one-game rushing record for the Cowboys when he rushed for 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams.
Some Cause for Optimism
A few weeks ago, with five games left to play, the Cowboys were coming off of a four game winning streak, finding themselves with a two-game lead in the division. At 7-4, they looked as if they would take over the NFC East. My prediction of a season record of eight wins and eight losses appeared to have been pessimistic.
Going into the final three regular season games, the Cowboys are now tied with the New York Giants for the lead in the NFC East with the Giants holding the tiebreaking advantage after defeating the Cowboys at home last week.