The Dallas Cowboys are "America's Most Disappointing Team." Should they be?
At 1-5, the Cowboys are still thought to be one of the NFL's most talented teams. Are they? Are they even the NFL's most talented 1-5 team?
Jaguars fans will get an up-close look at the Cowboys this Sunday, when Jerry Jones' team hosts the 3-4 Jaguars. Dez Bryant (pictured), the game's most exciting rookie, will be there. DeMarcus Ware, the game's most feared pass-rusher, will be there, too. Tony Romo, the quarterback of Jessica Simpson fame, will be sidelined by a freshly fractured collarbone.
Here are some other Cowboys that'll be in the lineup on Sunday: left tackle Doug Free, the Cowboys' fourth-year, fourth-round draft pick, who will be protecting aged journeyman quarterback Jon Kitna's blindside from the ravages of Jaguars star pass-rusher Aaron Kampman; right tackle Marc Colombo, who's in his ninth season and came to the Cowboys after flopping with the Bears; Alan Ball, a fourth-year safety who was a seventh-round draft choice; Gerald Sensabaugh, signed in unrestricted free agency after the Jaguars said no thanks.
Not exactly household names, are they? It begs the question: Is the perception that the Cowboys are a talent-charged team accurate, or is it a media creation driven by the star on the team's helmet, the franchise's unflagging popularity and mystique and the owner's panache?
Sunday's game is a clash of opposites. The Cowboys have long been the most popular team in the league; the Jaguars are the NFL's least-popular team. The Cowboys are built on skill-position players; the Jaguars' reconstruction is built on its two lines. The Cowboys are big-market, high-revenue; the Jaguars are small-market, low-revenue.
This much is the same: They are each desperate for a victory. They each need a win to have any hope of being a late-season playoff contender.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Cowboys.
1. Take it to Kitna—At 38, he's clearly on the downside of his career.
2. Rush, not cover—Because the Jaguars have the pass-rushers to get to Kitna; they don't have the pass-defenders to cover Bryant, Miles Austin and company.
3. Run the ball—Because that's better than being sacked by DeMarcus Ware.
4. Kick it out of bounds—Because that's better than kicking it to Bryant.
5. Get an attitude—Consecutive lopsided losses should make a team angry.
6. Get off the field—The Jags are 31st in the league in third-down defense. In today's game, no team can win with that kind of performance on third down.
7. Protect Garrard—He's in his comeback game from a concussion. It would be only human to be a little gun shy.
8. Look ahead—That carrot Jack Del Rio is dangling is bye-week time off. It's up to you.
9. Feel the moment—This is a big game. A win would be resurrection. A loss would shovel more dirt in the hole.
10. Get it done at crunch time—That's what wins in this league. The first three quarters of the game are a warm up for the real game.