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Cowboys failing to take advantage

Memo to Jerry Jones: If not now, then when? The NFC East was sitting on a silver platter for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.

Memo to Jerry Jones: If not now, then when?

The NFC East was sitting on a silver platter for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.

The Eagles brought in a new coach this season with new schemes on offense, defense, and special teams. The Eagles won only four games a year ago and this season figured to be a learning experience for coach Chip Kelly, who arrived in Philadelphia without any previous NFL exposure.

The defending champion Washington Redskins were assigned the toughest schedule in the NFC East. That was their punishment for winning the division in 2012.

The New York Giants fielded the oldest starting lineup in the division with a league-high eight players in their 30s.

The Cowboys had the youngest lineup and the easiest schedule in the East.

Tony Romo had a skip in his step after signing a $107 million contract in the offseason.

The stage was set for the Cowboys to end a three-year drought of division titles and playoff berths. Then the situation improved dramatically for the Cowboys - the Giants opened the season 0-6 and the Eagles and Redskins both 3-5. The Eagles even sat 0-4 at the Linc.

The division was there for the Cowboys to seize. But they have failed to seize it.

Dallas was supposed to beat a Kansas City team coming off a 2-14 season with new coach Andy Reid. The Cowboys lost, 17-16, to the Chiefs in September.

Dallas was supposed to beat a Detroit team coming off a 4-12 season with no history of success. The Cowboys fell to the Lions in October, 31-30, blowing a 10-point lead over the final seven minutes.

Throw in two more games that Romo cost the Cowboys by tossing late interceptions in his own end to gift-wrap the winning points for Denver and Green Bay.

But wait. Fate gave the Cowboys a chance to salvage the season. Their final five games would be played against QBs who opened the season on the bench - Matt McGloin of Oakland, Josh McCown of Chicago, Matt Flynn of Green Bay, Kirk Cousins of Washington, and Nick Foles of the Eagles.

But after rallying from 14 points down to defeat McGloin and his Raiders on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys have lost to both the Bears' McCown and the Packers' Flynn.

But to say the Cowboys merely lost those games would be understating the magnitude of each collapse.

Monte Kiffin's defense allowed the Bears to score on eight consecutive possessions in a 45-28 debacle. The Cowboys could never expose an atrocious Chicago defense because Romo and his offense couldn't stay on the field. They preferred to stand by the heaters.

Sunday's effort against Flynn and the Packers was even more inexcusable. Kiffin's defense allowed a Green Bay offense playing without starting QB Aaron Rodgers and two of his best receivers - wideout Randall Cobb and tight end JerMichael Finley - to rally from a 23-point halftime deficit for a 37-36 victory.

The Cowboys finish against teams they have already beaten this season - the Redskins and Eagles. Win both and the Cowboys win the NFC East.

But can you have any faith in a team that has allowed 82 points and 923 yards over the last two weeks? Can you have any faith in a team so familiar with December collapse that it's already off to an 0-2 start this December?