Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin chatted with readers Monday in the aftermath of the Cowboys-Eagles game to talk about a number of Cowboys-related items. Here are some highlights from the chat:
QUESTION: How is it that I can seemingly call exactly what they are going to do on offense about 70% of the time? Am I a football genius or are they truly that predictable?
Rick Gosselin: Until Dez Bryant learns how to run routes, this will be predictable offense. Hand it to Murray, throw short crossing routes to Jason Witten and work the intermediate areas with Miles Austin. Bryant is the wild card. He can make plays short, medium and long. But until he develops some discipline in his route running, Romo isn’t going to trust him. Bryant also better figure out how to beat press coverage by a defensive back. Nnamdi Asomugha schooled Bryant last night. When Bryant doesn’t have his way with defensive backs, he gets frustrated. Asomugha was so deep into Bryant’s head last night he became a non-factor.
QUESTION: Did the eagles figure out their problems and become a dominant team or was that more of an example of Dallas laying an egg against a 2-4 team?
Rick Gosselin: All of the above. The Eagles were the most talented team in the NFC East on opening day, and they remain the most talented team today. I believed the Eagles would have their struggles early and they might lose a few games as all the new pieces were attempting to fit together. I never expected them to lose four of their first six, though. Still, they have nine new starters, a new defensive coordinator and two new line coaches, one on offense and one on defense and it was going to take time for all of them to mesh. It appears the entire package came together last night and you saw what a juggernaut the Eagles could be. Still, the Cowboys played timid. Had they won, they would have all but ended Philadelphia’s season. The Eagles would have had to go 8-1 the rest of the way to win the division. With the rugged schedule the Giants face, I think the Eagles may have put themselves in a position to win the division last night. The Cowboys could have done the same with a victory. The Eagles succeeded, the Cowboys failed.
QUESTION: Given the awful age of the inside LB corp, when does Bruce Carter step in?
Rick Gosselin: He’s a week of practice back from a major knee injury suffered last November. He’s still rounding into game shape. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s starting by the end of the season. But he needs to get his legs back under him and get comfortable with this defensive scheme. Don’t expect any miracles, though. He’s not Lawrence Taylor.
QUESTION: After seeing Rob Ryan’s scheme/play calls fail miserably last night, what do you think he’ll do for round II vs these Eagles in DEC?
Rick Gosselin: Start from scratch with a new gameplan. I think you’ll see the safeties move up closer to the line. Not sure I’ve ever seen that many wide open crossing patterns in my life. And he’d better have Sean Lee on the field for 60 minutes. He’s the only linebacker in the middle I trust.
QUESTION: Rick, what percentage do you fault Jerry Jones over the last 17 years or so for the Cowboys being a “loser” organization?
Rick Gosselin: 75 percent. He’s the general manager. Most general managers are allowed two head coaching hires before the GM himself gets fired. Jerry has had five coaching hires since winning his last Super Bowl. If Jerry wasn’t the GM, he’d have fired that guy after Campo.
QUESTION: Would Cowher ever consider working with Jerry?
Rick Gosselin: Cowher loves TV. I also don’t think he gets back in coaching with any team that doesn’t already have a franchise QB in place. He spent too many years of his life searching for a franchise QB before he found Ben Roethlisberger. He doesn’t want to get back into coaching and spend another 8-10 years looking for his next franchise quarterback. I doubt he’d perceive the 31-year-old Romo as a franchise quarterback. QBs are usually done winning Super Bowls when they get into their 30s. So, no, I wouldn’t expect Cowher to work for Jerry Jones. I think he stays in television for the foreseeable future.
QUESTION: I’m of the opinion that either the cowboys have to trade Tony Romo or fire the offensive coaches coaching him. Romo has zero confidence this offensive staff and Romo both need a divorce. The big question is which one do we keep?
Rick Gosselin: The Cowboys need to make a philosophical switch. They need to get back to running the football. They won championships in the 1990s with Emmitt Smith the focal point and Troy Aikman in the supporting cast. If DeMarco Murray becomes the focal point and Romo becomes the member of the cast, I think this team would have a greater chance for success on a weekly basis. When Romo has to make all the plays to win a game, he takes too many chances. I thought he turned in a smart game against the Rams when he was able to pass as an offshoot of the running game. The Cowboys have too much money tied up in Romo. Don’t look for him to be leaving the Dallas huddle any time soon.
Rick Gosselin: What the Cowboys do not need is another 30-year-old player on the downside of his career. That’s how the Cowboys got into this mess way back in the late 1990s.
QUESTION: Yes, the Cowboys have found another good RB, but the Eagles have one of the best RBs in the NFL in Shady McCoy.
Rick Gosselin: Wouldn’t argue that. And he was a second-round draft pick. Every team in the NFL had a shot at him. The Eagles know what they want in a player and then go get him.
QUESTION: The game was one of the worst I have seen being a Boys fan but at least it looks like we found a good running back.
Rick Gosselin: In 3-4 years, a few of these players will become the building blocks of a contender: DeMarco Murray, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee , Dez Bryant if he ever grows up and learns how to work… But so many pieces around them need to be replaced. The Cowboys need to string together 3-4 solid drafts like the Detroit Lions have. That’s the quickest way to playoff contention. You can’t have a flat tire on draft day like the Cowboys have every third year.
QUESTION: When does Jerry say enough’s enough with this team and blow everything up? Besides D Ware who else plays on this team? I’ll give you Sean Lee.
Rick Gosselin: Jones started the retooling this season when he brought in those three young offensive linemen, replaced Keith Brooking with Sean Lee and gave Orlando Scandrick that contract extension. He was laying the groundwork for younger teams in the future. But there is still plenty of age on this team. Don’t look for Jones to do anything drastic at quarterback in the near future, though. He has a lot of money tied up in Tony Romo and still believes his 31-year-old QB can win big in this league. Jones will rebuild around Romo but I don’t expect any changes at quarterback in the next 2-3 seasons. DeMarco Murray was a nice addition as well. Sadly, the Cowboys are burning the prime years of DeMarcus Ware as a non-contender.
QUESTION: DeMarco is our starting RB from now on? He looks the part, at least to my untrained eyes…
Rick Gosselin: For today, tomorrow, next month, next year and the next 6-7 years. His games against the Rams and Eagles proved you can build an offense around him. he can run between the tackles and has quick feet in the hole. Now they have to find a few more blockers for him.
QUESTION: How do the Cowboys fix all the holes for next year without a lot of high draft picks and no cap room?
Rick Gosselin: They don’t. This is probably a 2-3 year rebuilding project if they hit on their draft picks. If they fall back into the old habit of missing on a few picks every year, the timetable will be pushed out. Look at Green Bay. Realistically, when do you think the Cowboys can compete with a team that young and that talented. 2013? 2014?
QUESTION: Knowing the importance of last night’s game, how does that team put forth such a flat, non-emotional game? This was as bad as the 44-6 drubbing!
Rick Gosselin: The Cowboys could have put the Eagles away with a victory. That would have forced the Eagles to go 8-1 the rest of the way. But the Cowboys lacked the killer instinct. They weren’t even competitive. I’m puzzled how you can’t be up for a national television game against a divisional rival. Sadly, that game meant more to the Eagles than it did to the Cowboys. And
both teams played like it.
QUESTION: What are the chances that we lose Rob Ryan next year to another team as a Head Coach?
Rick Gosselin: I think the hot defensive coordinator will be a guy the Cowboys lost a few years back — Mike Zimmer. He’s got a Top 5 defense with far less talent than the Cowboys. And the Bengals are a more legit playoff contender this season than the Cowboys, rookie quarterback and all.
QUESTION: Rick – What would you do if you were the GM of this team?
Rick Gosselin: Look for a quarterback for the future. I’m from the Ron Wolf school — draft one every year and then spend a few years developing them. Always have a young QB in the queue. Jerry Jones does not subscribe to that philosophy, though. I’d take a quarterback in the second day of every draft. With Romo at 31 years of age, I’d have no reservations taking a quarterback high in the 2012 draft. First round high, if need be. It may take him a year or two to hit the field, and that would allow Romo to play some of his contract down. I’d also go young. Stop turning to veteran players when you have a hole to fill. Put your youngsters on the field and let them play.
QUESTION: Is our OL just a work in progress, or do you see us needing a few good men?
Rick Gosselin: Work in progress. The Cowboys opened the season with three novice starters. It takes 3-4 years for an offensive line to develop into a cohesive unit. The Cowboys will add a fourth new piece next year when they replace Kyle Kosier. Great blocking fronts don’t happen overnight. The Cowboys stuck with aging, descending players too long.
QUESTION: Lets recap: Jets loss on Romo, Lions loss on coach (Romo should have never been put into a position to pass with a 24 pt lead), Patriots loss on coach (too conservative; playing not to lose), Eagles loss on coach (not prepared and outcoached by opponent). In summary, our coach and OC is not getting the job done.
Rick Gosselin: The Eagles loss falls into the lap of the defensive coordinator as well. It was ugly on both sides of the ball. If you
want to fix what ails the Cowboys, get better players. That one falls on the general manager.
QUESTION: Any chance Dallas put a claim in for Leigh Bodden?
Rick Gosselin: I jumped ahead on this one. This question should be answered by my comment on 30-year-old players. You don’t get better by getting older in the NFL.