There's still plenty for the Cowboys to play for this season.
As horrific as Sunday night's loss to the Giants was, the playoff flame has not been extinguished. Win out and the Cowboys still take the division and there are even scenarios that get them in with another loss. So let's just say at the outset that it is premature to start making plans for the offseason.
That said, can we start planning for a future that doesn't include Terence Newman?
Sunday night was the latest chapter in the big book of reasons why it is time for the Cowboys to move on from the veteran cornerback. Newman got beaten time and time again by Giants receivers and would have wound up as the game's biggest goat if Mario Manningham had held onto what should have been the winning touchdown just before Brandon Jacobs actually scored it.
With Rob Ryan calling the shots on defense, the team's cornerbacks are going to find themselves on islands more often than not because of the amount of pressure Ryan sends at quarterbacks. It's a tough position for the best of cornerbacks, but an impossible one for a player like Newman. He's not the same player he was earlier in his career and can't succeed in a system that asks him to do what Ryan is asking him to do.
The damndest thing about it is that the Cowboys knew coming into the season that Newman wasn't the right player for their system. They tried to sign Nnamdi Asomugha as a free agent so that Newman wouldn't be out there on the edge trying to keep up with receivers in big spots. That didn't work out, so Newman returned.
In dramatic terms, that makes him Chekhov's gun. The reference is to a gun that is introduced early in Chekhov's play "Uncle Vanya". It seems like an insignificant plot detail until the final act when it reappears in the hands of the main character as a weapon. The point is that there should be no such thing as an irrelevant detail to a writer and there isn't one for a starting defender in the NFL either.
When Newman returned, it was easy to shrug your shoulders and say that Asomugha was worth the shot but things will work out okay. There's nothing irrelevant about trying to replace a starting defensive player, though, and the reason why Newman was deemed expendable was bound to become clear at some point this season.
We're in the final act and Newman has become a weapon of mass destruction for the Cowboys. It's time to clean up the narrative.