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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Mac Engel column
[November 15, 2012]

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Mac Engel column

IRVING, Nov 15, 2012 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It was the late, great Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes who once said, "Somebody's got to be smart enough to break the cycle because I don't need my kids talking about me like that someday." Amen, girlfriend.

I have no idea what Ms. Left Eye was talking about specifically, but she makes a point -- somebody's got to be smart enough to break the cycle.

With the Dallas Cowboys at 4-5, it appears as if their December collapse cycle is not viable because they were never good enough to actually collapse.

That's where you are wrong. Be patient.

This whole thing is set up to collapse yet again, even though many scientists call it mathematically impossible.

If Jerry Jones has any chance to prove he really is the right person to make a final football decision (never); if Jason Garrett wants to demonstrate he should not be replaced by Sean Payton or Mike Holmgren; if Tony Romo wants this cycle of fan terror to be broken now, then the madness of mediocrity must stop, posthaste.

Do us all a favor and break the cycle, either way.

Be all in with the stink, or be all in and go on a run and make the playoffs and do something.

Either scenario is totally viable, yet this thing reeks of yet another 8-8 or 9-7.

Thus far the Cowboys have demonstrated they are good enough to beat the really bad teams, and can hang with the really good teams.

There is nothing but bad coming to Cowboys Stadium in the next three games -- Browns, Redskins, Eagles.

The Browns stink. The Redskins' head coach is already "evaluating" for next season, and the Eagles are now looking for a head coach and trying to see if rookie QB Nick Foles can play.

If the Cowboys are as good as they think they are, they must beat the Bengals on Dec. 9 in Cincy. That would put them at 8-5 with three games remaining.

The Bengals are the wild card. The only thing we know for sure is that the Bengals' fan base loathes its owner more than the Cowboys' fan base loathes theirs.

After that, it's a Steelers team that is not healthy -- quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has ouchies on his shoulder and ribs and is not sure when he will play again.

Then another home game against a Saints team that is better than its record, and close it out in Washington.

Now you can see why 10-6 is so attainable, but we must prepare for .500.

We saw this one year ago.

The Cowboys were 3-4 on Nov. 1 and proceeded to win four in a row to get our hopes hope. Then they lost four of five to miss the playoffs.

Coach Process always talks about getting better every day, and now is the chance to prove they actually are.

You, I and so many of my brothers and sisters in the media have called this team dumb and stupid.

"We talk about execution and being smart is part of that," Garrett said Wednesday. "We had way too many penalties last week. We have to do a better job of that. That's put us in holes. We have to take the practice emphasis to the game.... Taking care of the football at different times of the year has been an issue for us." Ya think The Cowboys have 19 turnovers, second most in the NFC.

Only the Redskins have been penalized more than the Cowboys (74).

These numbers change, even a little, the cycle can be broken.

I asked Garrett if he thinks this can be a smart team.

"We absolutely can be a smart team," he said. "At different times this year we have done that, we just have to do that more consistently." The one thing Garrett has going for him is that he has not lost this team at all. The Cowboys are playing for him. Whether they can play smart consistently remains to be seen.

They are 4-5 but the elements, and the schedule, are so favorable this can be the Cowboys team that breaks the franchise's long cycle of December collapses.

It would be nice if they did, either way.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @MacEngelProf ___ (c)2012 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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