Arlington, TX (CBSDFW.com)- The Cowboys 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots was at turns disappointing and unsurprising.
After all, the hallmark of the team this season seems to be playing well against the mediocre-to-bad teams on their schedule and coming up frustratingly short against the good ones. One has only to look at their wins and losses this season. In the win column? The Giants (twice), Redskins, Eagles, Dolphins and Lions. The losses? Packers (by 10), Saints (by 2), Vikings (by 4), Patriots (by 4) and Jets (by 2).
Aside from the inexplicable loss to the Jets, those losses have all had the common thread of making just enough mistakes to come up short against good teams. Against the Jets, it was a lethargic performance against a team energized by the return of their starting quarterback.
So, what are fans to make of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nature of this team? Is the 6-5 record a reflection more of the talent on the roster or the coaching staff?
“It’s both. It is absolutely both. The coach gives you an opportunity to be successful. But players have to override all of it and make sure they are successful,” said Dallas Cowboys legend and Inside the NFL analyst Michael Irvin. “There have been times when we played a game, and we were like, ‘I don’t know about this call, I don’t know about that call.’ And then we have to come down and say, ‘that’s not up to us.’ Our job is to go win on the call, regardless of what we think of the call. Let’s go win on the call and make it happen.”
Irvin, who remains passionate about the play of his former team, says that he is annoyed by the fact that he doesn’t see his same passion reflected in the players on the field.
“I don’t see that. And the issue is I would like to see someone get upset about it. I’m tired — T-I-Red — of hearing the same answers. We’ll get better. We’ll get to work on it. We’ll go work on it and get better at it,” continued Irvin. “I want to see somebody get angry, to let me know that winning a Super Bowl is engrafted in their spirit, and they’re not on that path right now, and it’s not acceptable to them. That’s what kind of gets under my skin.”
It’s enough to get under fans’ skin as well, as the Cowboys have one of the more talented rosters in the league that has shown itself capable of racking up points on the offensive end. Quarterback Dak Prescott leads the league in passing yards (3,433) and is tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (21). Running back Ezekiel Elliott is seventh in rushing yards (919 yards) and wide receiver Amari Cooper is sixth in receiving yards (886). And, on the defensive side of the ball, the team ranks in the top 10 in both yards per game allowed (318.5) and points allowed (19.1). Yet, here they are, fighting for the division with an Eagles team that has not had anywhere near the same level of production.
In the end, that leads to questions about the coaching staff. Jason Garrett has seemingly been on and off the hot seat more times than anyone can count. And, though as Irvin points out, it’s not entirely on him, his last few seasons have left something to be desired. According to Irvin, it is tough to look at the roster that has been put together compared to what other coaches in the league have to work with and wonder what could be.
“When you see what some of these coaches have done. I look at Mike Tomlin, who has his team right in the race, after losing one of the best quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. I look at Jon Gruden, who has Oakland right there, after giving up Khalil Mack, giving us Amari Cooper and then losing Antonio Brown,” said Irvin. “He has his team right there. It shows you the importance of coaching. Coach Garrett has had a full complement of talent, and when you look at it one to 53, a very talented team. So to be 6-5 at this point right now is certainly not something anybody anticipated. It’s certainly not something that makes them satisfied in any way.”
The good news for the ‘Boys is they don’t have too long to stew in the loss to the Patriots. They’ll take the field again in just two days when Josh Allen, Cole Beasley and the Buffalo Bills come to town for a Thanksgiving Day matchup. The Cowboys are currently 6.5 point favorites with kickoff slated for 3:30 p.m. Central Time on CBS.
You can get more NFL insights from Michael Irvin along with Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith Sr., Phil Simms, and host James Brown Tuesday night when Inside The NFL airs on Showtime at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.