The positive vibes that have been around Valley Ranch since Jason Garrett took over have taken a bit of a hit after the loss to the Eagles. The early success that Garrett had as the head coach has raised the level of expectations for the team again. Putting up a good fight was acceptable for a short time after the embarrassment of losing 45-7 against Green Bay. But now that Garrett has the team showing signs that they can be a winning team again, close losses are no longer good enough. I think the Cowboys are on the verge of not only winning, but dominating inferior opponents like they should have all season long.
I know Jon Kitna is handcuffing the offense in some ways. I know the defense is still terrible. But the Cowboys have eliminated a lot of the problems that plagued them in the first half of the season. Penalties and turnovers are down. Forced turnovers have increased dramatically. But the Cowboys still haven't turned the corner when it comes to winning close games down the stretch. The New Orleans game should have been a win. And the Philadelphia game was tied in the 4th quarter. This team needs to start winning close games consistently if they are going to be able to win on a regular basis.
With the Redskins up next on the schedule it sure seems like this is a game the Cowboys can and should win. The Redskins are on the verge of completely collapsing. Donovan McNabb might not even start this week and, if he does, he could be benched at any moment during the game. Albert Haynesworth has been sent home for the season after one of the biggest free agent signing mistakes of all time. I am certain the Cowboys will come out on top this week.
Up next after the Redskins are the Cardinals on Christmas Day. The Cardinals are also a mess right now. They are scrambling to find someone, anyone to play a decent game at quarterback for them. And their defense has lost nearly all of the great players that sparked their improbable Super Bowl run two years ago. The Cowboys will win in convincing fashion and head into the season finale against the Eagles on a hot streak.
There is a chance that the Cowboys could have an opportunity to delivery the kill shot to the playoff hopes of the Eagles depending on how the next two weeks play out. But either way the Cowboys have to believe that the coverage mistakes they made on a handful of plays in the first game can be corrected. If Jenkins doesn't try to jump the route on the 91 yard touchdown by DeSean Jackson there is a very good chance that the Cowboys would have won. And I think they will make the necessary adjustments to insure that we won't see another sickening touchdown "celebration" by DeSean Jackson. I believe the Cowboys will win the game with or without Tony Romo this time around.
If this scenario plays out we are looking at the Cowboys finishing the season at 7-9. Shameful, but after starting 1-7 and playing without Tony Romo for most of the season you would have to admit that 7-9 was a good outcome after a bad start. I really hope we see Romo on the field for the last two games but it is starting to look less likely as he is making a slow recovery from his broken collarbone. A 6-2 finish would prove that we don't need to completely blow up the team in the offseason and start over. And it would give hope that the Cowboys can return to the playoffs next season.