But we live in Cowboysville, and the obvious "solutions" circle. Replace Romo. Replace Garrett. Re-shape Garrett. Bring back Norv.
1. Tony Romo played poorly last night. Jim Haslett got consistent pressure between the tackles and that forced some bad throws. Romo's choices were mostly sound, but his fundamentals broke down. He cut his stride short on his long pick towards Miles Austin, trying to "arm up" as it were. He was simply fooled on the final pick. For a guy who hurt Pittsburgh's 3-4 so impressively in Cowboys Stadium it was surprising to see him flummoxed by a less talented version of the same scheme. And yet, Washington was probably the trickiest defense he handled all year.
We can let him hit the street, and then what? There's no youngster in the cupboard. Getting one on board should precede any notion of cutting ties with number 9, in my opinion. Look at Arizona. Ken Whisenhunt took them to a Super Bowl with Kurt Warner. Then, Warner retired, and Arizona quickly fell to the bottom of their division. Better still, look in the division. Washington won their first division since 1999 last night. Brad Johnson was their QB that year. Then GM Charlie Casserley paid a handsome price to sign Johnson from Minnesota, before letting Johnson go to Tampa Bay in 2001, where he won a Super Bowl.
Why did Washington linger 13 years in the NFC East wilderness? Start by looking at the Redskins starting QBs between Johnson and Robert Griffin:
Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman.
There's a saying in the military: hope is not a plan. Letting Romo go without having a capable youngster in house means running on hope. I'm old enough to remember Gary Hogeboom, Steve Pelleur and Kevin Sweeney. I recall the Tony Banks, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Vinny Testaverde stretch too vividly. I'll pass.
2. Bring in Norv?
Would appointing Norv Turner as offensive coordinator really solve everything? I'm skeptical about this idea. Yes, both Turner and Jason Garrett use the same system, but Norv had the same duties Jason does in Dallas. He was the head man, and he held the play sheet. And he did this:
'09, 13-3 record, 28.4 ppg. 4th in scoring offense
'10, 9-7 record, 27.6 ppg., 2nd in scoring offense
'11, 8-8 record, 25.4 ppg., 5th in scoring offense
'12, 7-9 record, 21.9 ppg., 20th in scoring offense
A slow slide in '10 and '11, from the blow-up 2009, and a major drop-off this year. If you watched the Chargers in 2012, you know Philip Rivers was nowhere near the quarterback he was in '09, when Wade Phillips could barely contain the Chargers' attack. Rivers was one of the most error-free quarterbacks in football, but his interception totals for '11 and '12 spiked 60% over his '09 and '10 numbers.
What happened to Norv and to Rivers? Pretty much the same thing that we've seen with Garrett and Romo in Dallas. In 2009, Norv had LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert in his backfield. He had Vincent Jackson as his primary receiver. He had Marcus McNeill as his left tackle and Chris Deilman as his left guard. Over the past three seasons, they've all left, and the Chargers have not replaced them with comparable talent.
The NFL is a talent league. When you've got it, you're going to look smart. When you don't, you look dumb.
Bringing Norv to Dallas, and leaving the interior offensive line intact, and failing to add a changeup back and fullback won't change much. And if Dallas hires Norv, I wonder if they'll see him as the panacea and leave the offensive player shortcomings untouched for another year? That would be worse than standing pat with Garrett, in my opinion.
Adding Turner might quiet the rippers, but Turner can't do it any more than Garrett can without talent, and Dallas still lacks the talent.
Which brings us to:
Six slabs of beef. Looking for this year's personnel targets? Start with six line spots, three on offense and three on defense. We all know about the guards and center. The Cowboys D-line looks even more worse. The team has had two dependable defensive linemen the past two years, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff. Early on, it appeared that Josh Brent was becoming the sumo nose tackle to anchor the front.
Brent's career may be over. Ratliff and Hatcher are both over 30. The Cowboys struck it rich in '05, adding Marcus Spears in the 1st, Chris Canty in the 4th and Ratliff in the 7th. Hatcher came in the 3rd round of the next year's draft. Dallas has not added a significant D-lineman since.
Every D-line spot and the three O-line spots cry out for improvement.
We've got plenty of time to muse over that.