By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys have reached the pivotal part of their schedule. This weekend they have to play the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles and the winner goes to the NFL playoffs. For anyone who is a regular follower of the Cowboys, this is a familiar situation. That is also why, if the Cowboys lose this game, rumors indicate that owner Jerry Jones might fire head coach Jason Garrett and his entire coaching staff.
This can’t make Garrett feel very good heading into the final game of the regular season. In the dramatic come-from-behind win against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, quarterback Tony Romo spun out of a sack and completed a first down pass to keep the Cowboys drive alive. However, Romo came up limping. He kept playing and threw the game winning touchdown pass with just a minute remaining in the game.
However, the next day, the news broke that Romo has a herniated disk in his back and will require surgery. The early word is that his season is over with and the Cowboys will have to win behind Kyle Orton if they want to get into the playoffs. Garrett said that the Cowboys have not ruled out Romo, and he is day-to-day. However, the chances of Romo playing against the Eagles are slim.
This could be an angel in disguise for Jason Garrett. If he loses without Tony Romo in the lineup, it could possibly save his job, but that is really a stretch. The fact is that Dallas should not be in this situation for the third year in a row.
Two years ago, Dallas just needed to win their last game to make the playoffs, but lost to the New York Giants. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. Last year, they just needed to beat the Redskins in the final game of the season to make the playoffs, but lost and Washington went instead. This year, they just need to beat the Eagles in the final game of the season to make the playoffs. The dancing partner changes but the beat remains the same.
Garrett became the eighth head coach in Cowboys history in 2011 and this could be his third year in a row to fall apart in the final month of the season. His offensive coordinator is Bill Callahan, a former Super Bowl loser in his rookie season as a head coach who has failed to make it back since that year. Monte Kiffin is a 73-year-old defensive coordinator who used to be one of the best in the game until his defense this year ranked as one of the worst in NFL history.
If Dallas loses, even without Tony Romo behind center, this is probably the time for Jerry Jones to cut his losses. He hasn’t hired a new coaching staff since hiring Bill Parcells. Wade Phillips took over when Parcells left town and then Garrett was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach when Phillips was fired. It might just be time to start fresh.
There are a couple of names that might catch a break, such as special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and maybe holdovers like Wade Wilson and Leon Lett, but this is a team that needs a new identity. It is hard to say, but maybe Tony Romo’s injury was the best thing that could have happened for the Dallas Cowboys future.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.