Week 4: New Orleans @ Dallas: Time for Optimism in Big D?

Dallas Cowboys fans could argue that they have had the roughest luck of any NFL franchise over the last few seasons. Since Jason Garrett took over, they have been mired in mediocrity, just good enough to give the public hope, but just bad enough to fall short of their goals.

It’s that status as the biggest teases of the NFL that have many wondering if their 3-1 start to 2014 is the story repeating itself or if their luck is finally turning out for the better. Beating the Saints convincingly on Sunday Night Football might be the biggest push these fans need to feel hopeful about their prospects.

Tony Romo’s fortunes have been the perfect demonstration of the team’s luck over the past few seasons. At times he has looked like a phenomenal quarterback, capable of being a difference maker before doing a 180 and looking like a scared teenage boy around girls. When they have needed him to come through in big games, he has made the crucial mistake that has cost his team the game.

Of course he has had little to no support with a mediocre running game and offensive line in that time, thanks to a combination of age and lack of skill at those positions. However a decidedly unsexy draft strategy has revitalised the line with three first round picks now starting and holding up well so far.

Add in DeMarco Murray stringing together some workhorse performances and now the offensive responsibility is able to be shared around instead of it all being on Romo. This could very easily change in a heartbeat if Romo decides he needs to boost his interception total again or if Murray is lost for a major stretch, but right now this is the most complete Cowboys offense in several years.

In preseason, the defense looked like it would be forced to throw Garrett out as a linebacker just to make up the numbers. That group was destroyed by injuries and in their desperation they were forced to turn to Rolando McClain who had a checkered resume at best. Add in a secondary that was struggling for health after being horrendous last season and you had a potential recipe for disaster.

Thus far they are holding their own, making enough plays to get victories. Even in the two games they gave up high point totals, some of that blame goes to the offense for committing cheap turnovers. One more injury may push this unit over the edge but like with the offense, they are doing enough to make us wonder if they are good enough to get out of their funk.

Coming up they have an all-Texas showdown with the Cowboys before a four game stretch which will likely define their season. A trip to the Northwest to face the defending champions will give both units a major test before a three game home stand against division rivals New York and Washington followed by Arizona.

By this stage they could easily be back under .500 and with a run home that could see them collapse or rally, it is important for them to continue on this positive start. Nobody is saying that they will be going to the Super Bowl just yet, but with the offense looking more balanced than ever before and the defense holding on, they may just be able to get by.

Sept 28
AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX (91,176)

New Orleans 0 0 3 14 – 17
Dallas 7 17 7 7 – 38

Passing: Drew Brees (NO), 340 yds, 2 TD’s, 1 INT
Rushing: DeMarco Murray (DAL), 24 car, 149 yds, 2 TD’s
Receiving: Jimmy Graham (NO), 8 rec, 86 yds, 1 TD
Pigskin Almanac “Big D” award: DeMarco Murray (DAL)

About James Caughlin

Growing up in Brisbane Australia, James got into the NFL during the 2000 season thanks to the Madden NFL video game. His cousins told him to use the Patriots (as a prank on him) but 3 Super Bowls and multiple winning season's later, he has had the last laugh. Now you will hear him yelling at the TV around 4am on a Monday morning watching every Patriots game live.

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