FRISCO, Texas – The biggest wonder of all is if the Dallas Cowboys will make it to Super Bowl LI in Houston, but many things must happen before that happens.
But as always we’ve got Five Wonders.
Away we go:
• I wonder if we are seeing how much the league respects the personnel job Will McClay has done with the claiming of players this late in the season. First the Cleveland Browns claimed Darius Jackson, the Cowboys sixth-round draft pick. Then the San Francisco 49ers claimed defensive end Zach Moore. Lastly the Baltimore Ravens claimed Vince Mayle last Friday when the team needed a spot for offensive lineman Ryan Seymour. The Cowboys took a chance in trying to get all three through waivers and couldn't get it done. Moore's departure hurt the most because of the injuries that occurred in Week 16. Not that he would be a difference-maker, but he knows the system. McClay has helped put together a roster that was good enough to win 13 games. Teams see that and know he knows players. To me this is a sign of respect.
• I wonder if the Cowboys should lead a charge for the NFL to be more open on the process of suspending players. This isn’t to say privacy rights should be violated, but the case of Randy Gregory is confounding to say the least. The fact he was allowed to return for the final two regular-season games but might not be eligible to play in the postseason is simply not fair. This isn’t a Cowboys-specific issue. Every team should want more transparency in how the league doles out the punishment. Gregory could be a key piece to a Super Bowl run and the Cowboys had to cut a player they didn’t want to cut in order to get Gregory on the 53-man roster. If he can’t play in the playoffs then the Cowboys will not have Gregory or Moore. Would the Cowboys have made the move had they known Gregory would not be allowed to play in the postseason? I don’t know, but maybe they would have released somebody other than Moore.
• I wonder if the Cowboys missed a moment Sunday to set a record and have some career symmetry all at the same time. Jason Witten needed 17 yards to break Michael Irvin’s team record for receiving yards. He caught one pass for 10 yards from Prescott but came out of the game after the third series. It would have been special to see Romo and Witten hook up again for such a significant franchise moment. Witten never would have reminded anybody about the record. Neither would Romo. But somebody needed to remind Jason Garrett of what could have been. Then the coach could have made a decision. Romo and Witten have connected 649 times for 7,287 yards and 37 touchdowns over the years. Another two or three catches for 17 yards would have been a good way for them to go out.
• I wonder if those ready to get rid of Mark Sanchez need to slow down a little bit. He was not good in his two-plus quarters of work, but there needs to be some context placed in his struggles. He had gone six weeks without any snaps of consequence in practice. He wasn’t playing with the top pass catchers. The Eagles came after him with some blitzes. He didn’t look comfortable at all, but I don’t think that will factor into the Cowboys’ decision to bring him back next season or not. In fact, I think the Cowboys will bring him back because of his relationship with Dak Prescott. That doesn’t mean he will be given the job as the No. 2 QB next year. Kellen Moore is also a free agent, and he could be back, too. No, I don’t think there is any chance Romo returns next year as the backup. None.
• I wonder if we can pencil in the Cowboys’ game at Atlanta next season for primetime. The Falcons will move to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next season, and the Cowboys are a big draw everywhere. The Cowboys played their first game at US Bank Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings on primetime. The Falcons finished as the second seed in the NFC this year so there will be a big-game feel to the matchup that could end up being a rematch of the NFC Championship Game.