It’s August and fans, critics and analysts alike are already fretting over the state of the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Should they be?
In short, no, they shouldn’t.
There are two main reasons for preseason games:
1) To observe, analyze and grade the play of rookies and veteran players that are on the fringe or ‘bubble’, and decide which players will make the final 53-man roster
2) To make mistakes, so the coaching staff and players can be alerted to them and correct them before any meaningful games have to be played.
Making errors is part and parcel of preseason play.
Giving up 5.5 sacks a game and not allowing backs to rush for more than three yards per carry, is not what the fans or coaches want to see. But this is still the preseason, and not all of the blame can be placed on the Cowboys’ offensive line. Receivers have failed to get open at times, running backs haven’t hit the right holes and quarterbacks have held onto the ball for too long.
The offense is still gelling, and that takes time.
So if you shouldn’t be concerned now, when should you be concerned?
For the third preseason game (which will be against the Houston Texans for the Cowboys), the coaches like to bring everything together, organize a game-plan, and allow their starters to play for an extended period of time (usually a half). If the offensive line continues to struggle in this game, gives up three or more sacks and don’t allow the running backs to rush for more than four yards per carry, then become concerned.
But for the moment, just relax, it is still August.
Another preseason game, and another, “Romo-to-Williams. . . incomplete”
It’s almost getting comical how many times it has been said.
Everyone likes to pile the blame on Roy Williams because of the profound chemistry issues between he and his quarterback.
“He drops too many balls.” “He’s a sloppy route runner.” “He’s too slow.”
Yes, it is true, Williams dropped too many balls last season (8), and he isn’t the most precise route runner, nor is he one of the quickest receivers.
But those three reasons aren’t the main reasons why Romo and Williams can’t get on the same page.
Williams is the type of receiver that rarely gets a lot of separation — unless he is running a deep or skinny post, and can build up speed, which he does very well.
Because of this, Williams will usually have a defensive back close to his hip. He can still be a productive and effective receiver, though, as he uses his big frame (6-3, 210lbs) to box out defenders and makes catches away from his body.
Unfortunately for Williams and the Cowboys’ offense, he has not been able to consistently box out defensive backs and make those catches, which has led to Tony Romo losing faith in Williams, and, ultimately, looking else where with the ball.
The other main reason why Romo and Williams can’t get on the same page, is because each of them regularly make an adjustment that the other will not pick up on.
In the Hall of Fame game (first quarter), for example, on third-and-goal from the Bengals’ four-yard line, Romo set up in the shotgun, scanned the field and noticed the defensive back on Williams was playing inside technique — hoping to take away the slant route. Romo obviously thought that Williams would have noticed this as well, and adjusted his route to a quick out or fade. However, Williams either didn’t notice the defensive back edging inside, or just decided he could still beat him on the slant, regardless.
The ball is snapped, Romo looks Williams’ way, raises up, thinking he’ll see a wide open Williams running a quick out or fade, instead, Williams runs the slant.
Romo brings the ball back down, Williams beats his man, Romo raises up again, is hit from the back side, and fires over the outstretched arms of Williams.
Another failed red-zone trip.
It wasn’t solely Williams’ fault, just as it wasn’t solely Romo’s fault. Both should have done a better job communicating, so they each understood what the other was going to do once the ball was snapped.
So, how can this problem be solved?
Well, it can’t be completely solved. Williams can’t change the type of receiver he is, that is determined by his physical abilities, or lack thereof. What he and Romo can change and improve on, is the way they communicate on the field; hand signals or code words could go a long way in making sure each player understands what the other is planning on doing during the play — especially in the red-zone.
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