You will be hard pressed to find anyone wiling to compare the Cowboys to the Colts, but that’s just what I am about to do.
People are looking at every angle to determine the cause of the 1-3 start. Some people blame the offensive line, some blame Wade Phillips for his lax style which permeates the organization, and many will blame Jason Garrett for being too pass happy.
The fact of the matter is that the games have been competitive. One play here or there would make a huge difference in the outcome. This article isn’t about attributing culpability, but rather determining whether the team and the players are in the best position to succeed.
The Colts offense is not similar to the Cowboys. They have the best QB in the game who is the offensive coordinator on and off the field. The Colt defense is a modified Tampa 2 that relies on small fast linebackers, and slower zone coverage corners that tackle well. The Cowboys defense is essentially a 5-2 defense with quick speedy man coverage corners.
Here is where the similarities arise. For the Colt defense to be effective, they need to have the lead. Their defensive line can pin their ears back and have a direct line to the quarterback without the worry of run gap responsibility or looking for a screen. The Colts defense has been much maligned for their relative inability to stop the run. The Cowboys are capable run stuffers, but they are at their most disruptive when they are playing with a lead. The line attacks the quarterback while the defensive backfield can attack the ball in the air (similar to what we saw against the Texans).
In regards to offensive balance, fans are myopic. When the Cowboys have been at their best, they have almost always been a heavy passing team in the first half of games. They pass to set up the run which goes against decades of football doctrine. It is effective however. The defensive line and is exhausted from chasing after Romo, the linebackers are exhausted from chasing after a slow footed but perpetually open Jason Witten, and the corners have had their fair share of blanketing Roy Williams. The running game has bigger holes because of the fatigue and the linebackers drop into coverage. After a lead is established, they run to kill the clock and preserve the lead. Ironically, all the running in the 2nd half balances the heavy passing. Consequently, you have 30 passing plays and 30 run plays and it appears as though Garrett called the game evenly, when it was absolutely unbalanced all the way through the game.
So what is causing the the 2010 woes? Not being able to get and maintain a lead. It is blindingly obvious. Not enough points, who would have thought? The fact of the matter is that this is the situation the team functions best.
Unfortunately this diagnosis does not have an over the counter cure. Take 2 touchdowns early in the first quarter and call me in the morning.