Losses to Bears and Packers Were Both Turning Points
Many would consider the opening-game loss to the Redskins to be the biggest turning point for the Cowboys in 2010. However, losses to the two NFC Championship Game participants tomorrow were just as important in the progress (or lack thereof) in 2010.
Week 2 vs. Chicago
The Cowboys were coming off a fluke (for the most part) loss to the Redskins, while the Bears were 1-0 thanks to a fluke (for the most part) win over the Lions.
The game against the Bears didn’t start bad, as the Cowboys managed two sacks within the first seven minutes of the game.
However, the Cowboys also unveiled two of their recipes for disaster in the first quarter, and these types of plays haunted Dallas for most of the season.
First, Miles Austin introduced his Volleyball Technique™, which involved him getting his hands on the ball over the middle only to see the ball fall into the hands of a defender. Roy Williams later used the same technique, allegedly paying Austin royalties for the right to use the move.
Click on the picture to see the video clip.
Second, after looking like the defense would dominate Chicago early in the game, Dallas revealed its Can’t Cover Anyone Defense®. Jay Cutler figured out late in the first half that if Alan Ball were on the field for the Cowboys, Ball would find a way to be out of position or simply be unable to cover anyone. Cutler threw what we used to call a pop pass to Greg Olsen, who was about five yards in front of Ball. Ball then used his Can’t Catch Up to a Tight End method and watched Olsen run the rest of the way for a 39-yard touchdown.
Dallas had a lead later in the first half but couldn’t hold it. With a chance to tie the game, David Buehler missed a 48-yard field goal attempt. And with a chance to make a stop to keep the game within one score, Dallas had to replace Mike Jenkins with Michael Hamlin, who was released later in the season.
The Cowboys never really overcame the problems they had against Chicago: (1) untimely and avoidable turnovers; (2) a secondary that couldn’t cover anyone; and (3) David Buehler’s inconsistency. Dallas eventually found some serviceable backups for the secondary, but by then the starters were awful.
Week 9 vs. Green Bay
Against the Packers, the Cowboys decided to avoid those nagging mistakes that led to some close losses. Instead, the team just never showed up. Aaron Rodgers looked nearly perfect against the Dallas defense, and other than Dez Bryant, none of the Dallas skills player did anything.
Of course, the loss led Jerry Jones to fire Wade Phillips and hire Jason Garrett as interim head coach. And from that point on, Dallas managed to go 5-3 to avoid any further disgrace.