Jan 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (91) sacks the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9), causing a fumble in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Giants won 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger via US PRESSWIRE

Cowboy’s Concerns: Part 1

What is the problem with the Dallas Cowboys this season?  It seems like we haven’t been able to have more than one player “on” at a time offensively.  We have a lot of talent, nobody’s denying that, but how much can we hope to accomplish when our players take turns having a good game?

October 14, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa (67), quarterback Tony Romo (9) and guard Nate Livings (71) change a play at the line of scrimmage against the Baltimore Ravens at M

Jason Garrett’s philosophy does not seem to be reaching this team.  His idea of stacking “one good day on top of another” hasn’t been working.  Don’t get me wrong, I do think Garrett is a good coach on his way to becoming a great one, but for some reason this team is just not responding.When watching our offense on game days, I can’t help but feel like they showed up to play having not practiced together all week.  On many occasions, they looked less like a professional team and more like a group of guys playing a weekend pick-up game.

As I said, I know that Garrett’s coaching method is far from that of “coach cupcake” that he replaced, so what is the problem?  This is the guy that put his players back in pads during the week.  He’s the coach that stated work ethic and production, not the size of a player’s contract, would determine who sat and who played.  He is also the man who wanted to focus on one day at a time, doing your best and playing your hardest on that day, and letting those days stack together.  This philosophy sounds great doesn’t it?  So why isn’t it working?

In my opinion, we are failing in the classroom side of the game.

You can run a thousand routes a week and push yourself to the limit every workout, but will that help you be in the right place when a route adjustment is indicated?  I constantly see Romo talking to his receivers after a bad route, correcting them and pointing out why they should have adjusted.  Do we not have enough time in practice to do this?  Why is Romo having to use regular season games to teach proper route running and adjustments?  Can’t we just lock Romo and the entire receiving corps in a room for an entire day with a bunch of film and a case of Red Bull?  I think often we forget about how important the classroom aspect of this game is.

Sometimes when Romo gets sacked, it’s less because a lineman was physically beaten and more a case of him not recognizing the defensive formation and being able to predict where the pressure will be coming from.

Classroom work does more than help us make adjustments and pick up blitzes.  Classroom work is invaluable when it comes to learning the other teams blocking schemes.  It is vital in recognizing opponent’s offensive patterns, routes, adjustments, running lanes…etc.

Think of this from a boxer’s perspective.  Watching film on your opponent allows you to catch all the subtle intricacies in their movements.  Learning these indicators can help you predict their patterns.  Recognizing that little dip in their left shoulder before they throw a right hook could be the difference between a victory and waking up staring at the ceiling, wondering what the hell happened.

Not only will focusing on the classroom aspect help us recognize and predict patterns of our opponents, but they will help us to understand and predict the patterns of our own teammates.  There is no substitute for learning each other’s tendencies over years of playing together like Romo and Witten have.  Although, I have to think a close 2nd is doing the film work together, studying game situations and discussing the proper adjustments and why.

I am sure the Cowboys do classroom work, my point is either we are not doing enough or not focusing on the right aspects of it.  If it involves taking film home with you then that’s what needs to be done.  If it means watching games together on your own time, then that’s what it means.  These guys have got to be tired of waking up staring at the ceiling.

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