For some teams, the bye week is a needed break. A chance to get away, see family members and catch up on all those personal things that tend to slip through the cracks during the season. It’s the same for players, coaches and other team employees.
But the bye week tends to be a rough, painful time for the Cowboys. Every year.
For Jerry Jones’ bunch, it’s a time to dwell — most often on the negative, often on what hasn’t been good and what must be better.
Last year, the Cowboys were on the verge of going 3-1 into the bye before a fourth-quarter calamity gifted the Lions a 34-30 win. The bye and the talk of whether Tony Romo, who threw two late picks in that one, would ever be great felt like it lasted a month and a half.
The Cowboys emerged from the hiatus with a brilliant game plan and performance (for the first 58 minutes, anyway) against the Patriots in New England. And then Tom Brady got the best of Rob Ryan and his defense in a 20-16 heist.
That left Dallas reeling at 2-3 instead of the 4-1 they easily could have been. Don’t forget that the Cowboys had a chance to win the division in Week 17. One or both of those games might have come in handy.
In 2010, the bye provided the Cowboys a false sense of security. A 27-13 victory over the Texans spared Dallas from 0-3 and looked like the turnaround win it needed. Nope — Five straight losses after the break were the dagger in what ended up a 6-10 season.
The offense limped into the 2008 bye week. It recovered briefly before going back into the tank. The ’04 club lost six of seven after the bye on its way to a 6-10 record.
The early byes have proven especially tough for the Cowboys. When they have had their bye fall in Weeks Three, Four or Five since 2004, the team has had a collective record of 29-35. In the seasons since then with byes in Week Six and later, the Cowboys have been 42-22.
So here we are, Week Five, Bye Week in Dallas, and the Cowboys already have treated us to a severe case of motion sickness. Up in Week One, down in Week Two, back up (Week Three), back down (Week Four). It’s nauseating. And Cowboys fans will be treated with two weeks of conjecture, speculation and general uneasiness not alleviated by the Texas Rangers’ inevitable October baseball crash.
Last we saw them ’Boys on Monday, they were shredded by a Bears team that looked to be on even footing coming in but left the clear and unquestioned victors. How bad is it that the Cowboys are more dysfunctional offensively than the team with Jay Cutler?
Time is running out on Dez Bryant, continually plagued by drops and attention lapses, to get his head on straight. Romo, fresh off his five-pick thud of a game against the Bears, is facing his old, relentless demons. Jason Garrett is feeling the heat once more. The offensive line, well, it is what it is to use a trite yet painful coach-ism.
It’s the bye week, and it’s a fairly miserable time in Dallas. It’s when people pay attention to Joe Theismann saying Romo “isn’t a very good quarterback,” as quoted by the Dallas Morning News. It’s when fans light up talk radio with suggestions for Jones, some of the unsavory variety.
All anyone need do in case they are unnecessarily cheery about this team is look at the post-bye schedule. Warning to those who have yet to — it’s a bit rough. At Baltimore, at Carolina, vs. N.Y. Giants, at Atlanta, at Philadelphia.
That’s four of five games on the road, with the revenge-minded world champs sandwiched in the middle. That’s four quarterbacks (excluding Cam Newton, who can chew up anyone when he’s on point) who rank in the top nine in passing yards getting ready to face a secondary that had a nuclear meltdown on Monday.
Everyone knows that the next five games will dictate the season — playoffs or bust. You can tell which way most folks in Dallas are leaning right now, despite the 2-2 record that they share with nearly one-third of the league.
The memories of the Giants victory are filled with cobwebs. The afterglow of the hard-earned victory over Tampa Bay is relegated to mere footnote status. It’s the bye week, when the world gets a lot darker in Dallas.