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The game, the season and everything...

Tim's picture

 
I've been traveling all week, and haven't had time to comment much on the game. It's probably just as well, because I was pretty disheartened by the loss. Having had a couple days to cool off, I am able to see a few positives - both on the game and on the start of the season; reasons to be encouraged about the possibilities for the rest of the year. 

  1. Dallas was expected by nearly everybody to lose exactly the games that they lost. The fact that, by the end of the game, the expected result seemed surprising ought to make us at least consider that there is some cause for encouragement there. Especially in the NE game.
  2. Dallas entered the season with a lot of injuries to key players, and the injuries continued to pile up. Against NE was the first time the top three corners have all played, and, in case you didn't notice, Orlando Scandrick held the league's top receiver on the league's top offense in check all day. The Dallas defense held NE - playing at home - to less than 30 points for the first time in more than a year. The OL has been disappointing. It also starts three out of five new guys since last year, and injuries have made them use back-ups in several games, as well. If the "game is won in the trenches," you would have to expect most teams to become complete doormats under those conditions. NE was also the first game that Bryant and Austin both played all the way through.
  3. In the first five games of the season Dallas faced the toughest schedule in the NFL, measured by opponent strength. And that does not even take into consideration that three of the five were on the road, following close after the final two preseason games on the road. And that's in addition to the rash of injuries. This team weathered that stretch just one game under .500, and with only one more loss than the division-leading Giants. They took each loss, including the one against the #1 offense in the league, down to the last play, and did not get blown out by anybody. They now face one of the league's easiest schedules, and with the CB and WR squads back at full strength. (OL is still a question mark on the injury front.) Dallas is still very much a contender to win the NFCE.
  4. Despite my comments about Garrett's playcalling in the chat during the game, my biggest problem with that last series before NE's winning drive was not really the play calls, but the play execution; in other words, not that they tried to run, but that they CAN'T run, particularly in obvious running situations. We've talked about this all year. First and goal at the one? For the Cowboys, that's either a passing situation or you might as well trot out Bailey on first down. The Cowboys absolutely had to have at least one first down to ice the game, and after two runs and a false start, it was 3d and 18. What we all wanted Garret to do was adjust his playcalling based on the fact that he has no running game, not because it's wrong to run the ball and eat the clock. Play to your team's strengths, in other words. And maybe that kind of playcalling would have worked. As we all know, when it doesn't work, it was always the wrong call, but the biggest problem facing the Cowboys right now is the lack of a running game
  5. I hate to do this, but I have to add a few notes about Romo's play this year.
  • Some people say he is just not the kind of QB who can put the team on his back and win. Personally, I don't think there has ever been a QB who could do that, but let's look at the Cowboys for a minute: Key defensive injuries, key injuries at WR, shaky O-Line and no running game. Exactly whose back is the team riding on?
  • I've been looking at ESPN's "QBR" ratings, a new system they are trying to promote as an alternative to the NFL's Passer Rating. I haven't really dug into the criteria too deeply, but the principle is that it is intended to measure the QB's contributions independent of other players. For example, the Passer Rating includes completion percentage, but makes no distinction between a drop, a throwaway and an interception when calculating it. QBR tries to make those finer distinctions. Right now Tony Romo has the #6 QBR in the NFL and the top QBR in the NFC East. According to QBR, he outplayed Tom Brady last Sunday. Take that for what it's worth - probably not much.
  • Another alternative ranking is done by FootbalOutsiders. It's a very complicated statistical analysis that also tries to factor out the QB's contribution to the team independent of other players. They have Romo #4 in the NFL.

 
My only point: QB is not the problem right now for Dallas.
 
I think we are going to learn a lot this week. Dallas faces St. Louis, a team a lot people expected to be pretty good, but has instead stumbled to an 0-5 start. Not only do the Cowboys need to win, they need to blow the Rams right out the stadium doors. They need to score touchdowns, and they need to pitch something close to a defensive shutout.
 
More importantly, they need to reschedule the game to noon, because the World Series Game 4 is being played right across the street at 7, and with the 3:15 start, not only will I be unable to see most of the game on TV, parking will be a nightmare. (Yes, I'm going to the baseball game!)
 

angileena567
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Hello there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading through your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects? Thanks a ton!

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Danny Smith
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Tim - very good analysis as always. You hit pretty much all of the points I wanted to hit so now I don't have to :)
 
I have a few more things I would like to add when I get some time but things are VERY busy right now. I would say one more thing we need to add in the positive category is that we are 1-0 in divisional games and that 2 of the teams in our division, Philly and Washington, seem to be really struggling right now.
 
Good for you on getting to go the baseball game - we need all fans out and VERY loud tonight!  

Danny Smith
Dallas Cowboys Fan Network Creator and Administrator