Welcome to the fork in the road of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys season. Every season has one, and the Cowboys have run smack into it. The path they choose will define whether this season has a happy ending or a bitter one.
The Cowboys will spend about 10 hours on Monday gnawing on their 28-17 loss to Arizona as they fly nonstop from Dallas to London for next Sunday’s game with Jacksonville. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones, presumably, isn’t cheaping out and making them connect at LaGuardia.
The loss is almost immaterial, frankly, even though it is the Cowboys’ second straight. Dallas is 6-3 and still very much in the NFC playoff hunt. But the loss was the final blow in what was certainly the Cowboys’ worst week of the season so far.
Yep, the circus is back in town, people. It just took a little longer than usual to get here.
Start with quarterback Tony Romo, who sat out the Cardinals game with two small fractures in his back after taking a hit last Monday against Washington. It wasn’t revealed for nearly five days that Romo had fractures in his back. The Cowboys called it a “back contusion.”
Additionally, Jones and Romo couldn’t get on the same page about his availability. Jones said it was about pain tolerance; Romo said it was about effectiveness. I side with Romo. This is a guy who has played with cracked ribs. He has a high tolerance. But fractures? That’s a whole other issue.
The injury is similar to the one that Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty suffered in the season opener. Petty missed just one game, providing some hope that Romo could play against the Jaguars.
By the way, the performance of his backup, Brandon Weeden, made you long for the days of Kyle Orton as the backup, didn’t it?
Jones spent most of the week reminding people how things work in Dallas, thanks to his appearance on the sideline of Monday’s game against Washington and his relaying of Romo’s health information to head coach Jason Garrett. Talk radio was abuzz with questions about why Jones was on the sideline, even the local talkers.
I was abuzz with questions about why there are questions about Jones’ being on the sideline, because he’s been doing this for 20 years now.
Running back Joseph Randle hit the news again. Video of his detainment at the Frisco Police Department, after his arrest for shoplifting, showed Randle basically saying his arrest was no big deal because Dez Bryant (misdemeanor domestic violence) and Josh Brent (intoxication manslaughter) had run afoul of the law and they were still with the team.
Bryant and Randle argued about it Friday in full view of the media. It became so heated in the locker room that head coach Jason Garrett had to call a team meeting on Saturday. By the way, Randle still has a job.
Speaking of Brent, the Cowboys signed him to a one-year contract extension before the game. So, once again, athletic ability trumps, well, everything else, I suppose.
Then Bryant, who is sure to get a massive amount of money next offseason from someone, decided to sign with Roc Nation Sports for his next contract negotiation, something Jones recommended Bryant not do. So, obviously, Bryant went ahead and did it.
Roc’s proprietor Jay Z. But don’t get all excited thinking that means the rapper and his wife, Beyonce, are going to be regulars at AT&T Stadium. Roc may be his representation, but they’ll rely on uber-agent Tom Condon to do the actual negotiations. Condon specializes in quarterbacks, as he represents both Peyton and Eli Manning.
Let’s see, did I miss anything? Oh, the game. Well, cornerback Orlando Scandrick threw his gloves in a fit of desperation in the first half, Bryant yelled at Weeden in the second half using hand motions that looked like he was concocting some sort of voodoo spell, and linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Tyrone Crawford both suffered knee injuries and left the game.
Yep, the circus is back in town, people. It just took a little longer than usual to get here. Now the season sits at that fork in the road. One way leads to prosperity. The other way leads to, as they say, the dark side.
Absurdly, but fittingly, the Cowboys must travel 6,000 miles to find out which way they’ll go.