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Writer Blocks: Two Long Weeks The Art Of The Must Win Game

FRISCO, Texas -- I not
one for hot takes, but this is as bad as the Dallas Cowboys have needed a win at
any point in recent memory.That not how I originally intended to start my Week 7
column, but it the only thing I come back to when I think about the issues
surrounding this team right now.So Il spare you the monologue this week and wel
jump right into what I talking about -- and what I afraid might happen if the
Cowboys can find a way to finish with more points than the 49ers.1. I really did
wrack my brain when I asked myself “is this the most the Cowboys have needed a
win during my time with the team?t sure feels that way -- at least during the
regular season David
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. You can automatically throw out the magical 2016 season. The
Cowboys were 0-1 when they won their first game last year. After that, they
reeled off 11-straight wins. Even with a couple of late-season letdowns, they
cruised to a 13-3 record.The 2015 was similar, but for different reasons. Dallas
jumped out to 2-0, and then the season was torpedoed by Tony Romo broken
collarbone. You could argue that they desperately needed wins during that
seven-game losing streak while Romo was absent. But doesn that feel hollow when
you consider that Romo re-injured himself during his second game back in
action?As promising as it started, that 2015 season was dashed in mid-September
-- and it ok to admit that.You could make some arguments for 2014. The Cowboys
lost two in a row in the middle of the season, again because of injuries to
Romo. There was also the mid-December showdown at Philadelphia, which gave
Dallas the leg up to win the NFC East
throwing those out. Because as clutch as those wins were, they weren “must have”
wins. Romo came back in Week 10, giving his team eight weeks to right the ship.
And while the win in Philly was huge, the Cowboys still could have won the
division without it.That takes us all the way back to 2013, 2012 and 2011 -- the
three seasons where the Cowboys lost their last game, with a chance to reach the
playoffs.A couple of things come to mind when I think about those season.
Firstly, this 2016 team has far more talent than them. Secondly, this do-or-die
moment is upon them in October, rather than December or January.This certainly
feels like uncharted territory for a Jason Garrett-coached Cowboys team.2. Ok,
but why does this game loom so large? Let me elaborate.Il start first with the
things the Cowboys can control, as Garrett likes to say. Most obviously, this is
the easiest opponent remaining on the Cowboys’ entire schedule. Yes, that
true.Of course, no opponent in the NFL is truly easy. Everyone in this league
gets paid handsomely, and anything can happen on ay Sunday -- I get that. This
San Francisco team is 0-6, but the 49ers have lost their last five games by a
combined 13 points. Theye not an easy out.But break down the facts. San
Francisco is about to give C.J. Beathard his first career start at quarterback.
Carlos Hyde and Pierrce Garcon are good players, but Beathard is lacking in
explosive options on offense.Across the ball, the 49ers are breaking in a bunch
of young talent and currently rank near the bottom of the league in total
defense and scoring defense.3. Contrast that with the rest of the schedule.
After San Francisco, the Cowboys go on the road to play a division game against
a red-hot Kirk Cousins. Then they host Kansas City, which has been the best team
in the league to this point.After the Chiefs, it a road trip to play the
reigning NFL MVP and reigning NFC champs in Matt Ryan and the Falcons. The week
after that, it a home game against the Eagles -- who currently have the best
record in the NFC. The home stretch features two division games, both of which
are on the road. In between those two is a road trip to face Derek Carr and
Oakland, as well as a home game against Russell Wilson and the Seattle
defense.None of this is to say the Cowboys can win these games. Theye a talented
team, and theyl be capable of pulling out some wins. But there are some good
squads and some high-caliber quarterbacks waiting ahead on the schedule.Nothing
is asy” in the NFL, strictly speaking. But it not going to get easier than a
rookie quarterback and an 0-6 roster. 4. None of this even factors in the
off-field issues that have beset this team for the past two weeks -- and really
for most of the season.The Cowboys have been embroiled insituation to o
away.”Obviously, it not fun to talk about. And to a certain point it takes a
toll on you. But how absurd does it sound to say that from an outsider
perspective? Imagine being him.Wee now entering the third month since
Elliott was originally suspended by the NFL and subsequently began to fight
against that ruling Marquez
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. It has been roughly 15 months since the league initially
opened an investigation into allegations of domestic violence against him.I can
imagine how tired that dude must be. Tired of hearing about it, tired of
stressing about it, tired of wondering what going to happen.And yet, he and his
legal team can and should keep forcing the issue. It impossible for me to say
for sure what he has and hasn done in his personal life, but Elliott was never
charged with anything and he maintains his innocence. On top of all that, the
NFL has bungled this whole thing from the word o.”So, yeah. It annoying. Zeke is
still fighting against this ruling, and the Cowboys are about to play their
sixth game. Theoretically, he coulde just accepted this punishment, sat out and
gotten ready to play. To further that theory, it technically possible that he
could still be suspended -- thereby missing games later this season.Literally
none of that matters, and it doesn seem like anyone realizes a really
good football player, but he also a person fighting to defend his reputation. If
he really does believe he innocent of those allegations, he should exhaust every
possible outlet in clearing his name.Anyone else placed in that situation would
do the exact same thing.7. There very little doubt in my mind that Tyron Smith
is going to play on Sunday against San Francisco. He was at practice Thursday,
and he has proven on plenty of occasions he can get the job done on limited
reps. Two weeks ago against Green Bay, he played well after not practicing all
week.The short-term isn the issue here. But at this point, how can it not be
concerning theway the Cowboys’ All-Pro left tackle continues to manage back
pain? Even after a bye week, Smith is still taking a limited workload during
practice -- which suggests that he might not be 100 percent healthy for the rest
of this season.Again, none of this is a big deal in the present. If anyone can
get up for a game on short practice snaps, it Smith -- who I have repeatedly
argued is the Cowboys’ best player, period.What bothers me is that it now fair
to call this a recurring issue for Tyron. Back problems forced him out of two
games last season, and he was managing the problem at different times down the
home stretch Cooper
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