Cowboys’ loss to Bears makes ‘Monte Kiffin project’ an official disaster
At this rate, opposing teams should stop activating punters in games against the Cowboys. The Chicago Bears scored on their first eight drives in a dominating 45-28 win over the Cowboys.
The Monte Kiffin project is officially a disaster at this point. Former Sam Houston State great Josh McCown, 34, hung 348 passing yards and four touchdowns on the Cowboys. Brandon Carr, the $50 million man, was no match for Brandon Marshall. And the Bears’ other standout wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery, plucked balls away from Cowboys defenders like they were school kids. It’s really hard to imagine Dallas mounting a playoff charge at this point. Any margin for error is gone now that the Eagles (8-5) hold a one-game lead on the 7-6 Cowboys. The Cowboys likely need wins over the Packers and Redskins to ensure the finale against the Eagles has meaning.
On a night when temperatures dipped to the single digits, the Cowboys unleashed a potent running game in the first half. Tailback DeMarco Murray had 99 yards in the half. But the Bears took a 24-14 halftime lead on a brilliant catch by Jeffrey in the back corner of the end zone. The Cowboys secondary was torched in no small part because the defensive line couldn’t put any pressure on McCown. While the TV announcers continued to brag on DeMarcus Ware’s career, he was non-existent in this game. He stumbled into a sack in the fourth quarter because McCown lost his footing.
This game wasn’t competitive after halftime. I thought the return of middle linebacker Sean Lee would stabilize this defense, but he had just as much trouble getting off blocks as anyone else. And then in what has become a familiar sight over the past four seasons, he was escorted to the locker room with a neck stinger. The Cowboys fired Bears running backs coach Skip Peete last season, so I’m sure he enjoyed the sight of Matt Forte and Michael Bush shredding the Cowboys. The defense allowed 490 total yards by the Bears.
The Cowboys are now allowing 426.8 yards per game, which puts them comfortably in last place in the NFL. They have given up at least 500 yards in four games this season, and the Bears could’ve easily topped that mark had they not been so benevolent. Injuries or not, bringing in Monte Kiffin and his 4-3 scheme has been an utter failure. Jerry Jones doesn’t want to fire Jason Garrett, but he may have to throw Kiffin overboard. McCown is obviously one of the better backups in the league, but he shouldn’t be completing 27-of-36 for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Even on the rare occasions when pass-rushers got near him, McCown dumped the ball off to his running backs and watched them race for big gains. This truly might be the worst Cowboys defense since the team started playing in 1960.
But the offense doesn’t deserve a free pass. Tony Romo was 11-of-20 for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those came after the game had been decided. The offensive line cleared huge holes for Murray in the first half. But the Cowboys weren’t able to sustain drives after two very impressive early scoring drives. Dez Bryant scored the Cowboys’ first touchdown, but he did little else. He finished with two catches for 12 yards. The Cowboys didn’t have a lot of possessions in this game because the Bears were running the ball so successfully.
The Cowboys have to be nearly perfect on offense to have a chance of beating a team like the Bears on the road. And while this offense has some firepower, it doesn’t display much consistency.
What we know is that Kiffin hasn’t come close to fixing this defense. And the only saving grace for the Cowboys is that two of their final three opponents are from the NFC East.
It’s the only division in the NFL that can make the Cowboys resemble a decent team.