I was watching my favorite early morning news program, NFL AM, listening to analysts Eric Davis and Mark Kriegel battle it out over who's to blame for what appears to be the beginning of the annual Dallas Cowboy December meltdown following Monday night's shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Bears.
Kriegel blamed the defense whilst exonerating Tony Romo, Davis took the opposite side of the fence, blaming Tony Romo for not being able to do enough.
Kriegel was actually right for a change, although his argument was weak enough to make it appear otherwise, seeing as Dallas' defense failed to stop the Bears from scoring on nearly every possession. Meaning Romo would had to have been perfect to overcome the near imperfection of his defense.
Both gentlemen though are missing the big picture. Who is really to blame for the Cowboy's futility?
Let's round up the usual suspects and play detective, shall we? There's owner/general manager Jerry Jones, Head Coach Jason Garrett, Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan, Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, Tony Romo and any combination of the other players.
As fun and convenient as it might be to blame Romo, it's rediculous to lay this at his feet. His offense scored 28 points in frigid Soldier Field, a noteworthy accomplishment, while throwing 3 touchdowns and not committing a turnover. Granted he only threw for 104 yards, but that was enough to produce a lofty 109.2 QB rating combined with a running game that was a couple of bucks shy of 200 yards.
How about Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan? It's hard to blame him in light of the fact he's been stripped of his autonomy the past several games and it's still the same boring, predictable and uneventful malaise that has been the Cowboys offense in recent - and perhaps not so recent - memory.
And what about defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, surely he is to blame? Not so fast. I remember a coordinator named Rob Ryan who was kicked out of town last season after reaching new lows in futility with his 'swiss cheese' defense. How's Rob looking in New Orleans after taking over and transforming the league's worst defense in 2012? Hmmm...
It must be the talent, right? Wrong. In actuality, General Manager Jerry Jones has done a pretty good job of putting a roster together. A prime example is this year's number one draft pick Travis Frederick. Jones was crucified by the media for this selection, but Jones has been proven right. Frederick has solidified the once porous line with his outstanding play. Demarco Murray is an excellent running back and another of Jones' draft gems. Middle linebacker Sean Lee was an absolute steal even though he was a second round draft pick. Dez Bryant is a pretty darn good and exciting receiver. The rest of the roster is solid while not particularly being littered with pro bowlers everywhere you look. But what roster is in this age of parity/mediocrity?
That leaves Head Coach Jason Garrett and Owner Jerry Jones. This is where it gets complicated, because like the song says, "You can't have one without the other...", where it concerns the enigmatic owner and whomever the currently annointed puppet may be. It's been like this ever since Jones ran off the architect of the last modern dynasty, the 3 time Super Bowl Champion 1990's Dallas Cowboys. Some believe that number could have been as many as 5 or 6 had Jones not morphed into the Monster Davis-Stein (Al Davis + George Steinbrenner). And what is the Cowboys playoff record since 1996? Only 7 playoff games the previous 16 seasons, 6 of them being losses. That includes a stretch with the great Bill Parcells who walked after being promised autonomy, but having learned the hard way that owner Jones can't help himself when it comes to meddling with his team.
This doesn't let Jason Garrett off the hook, as this team's record is a paltry and uninspiring 28-25 since he took over the reigns in midseason 2010 and has failed to make it to a postseason.
But in a loose sort of defense of Jason Garrett, who really knows what kind of head coach he could be? Because, in effect, he is not the head coach. It is in name only, as it will continue to be for whichever unfortunate soul, for as long as Jerry Jones' ego gets the best of him.
I'm betting on ego.