Despite the fact that the Dallas Cowboys were the first team, since the 1966 San Francisco 49ers, to score touchdowns on an interception, punt return, and a fumble recovery the 38-23 final score in the win against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field is somewhat misleading. The Cowboys were down 17-10 to a Eagles team led by rookie quarterback Nick Foles after Michael Vick was knocked out earlier in the game concussion like symptoms. The Cowboys managed to finally piece together all three phases of the game which led to 28 points in the final sixteen minutes of the game. At first glance one may be led to believe the Cowboys dominated the entire game and have moved on to disciplined and quality football. However, this was not the case. The Cowboys in fact still managed 13 penalties six of which led to Philadelphia first downs. Dallas Cowboys rookie Maurice Claiborne was picked on early and often being whistled for two defensive holding calls and one pass interference calls. The rookie was so out of sorts against the Eagles that he jumped off-sides once and blatantly lined up in the neutral zone once.
And then there is the continued head coaching learning curve of Jason Garrett and Tony Romo. As most NFL teams typically send in two plays, one being a pass and the other being a run option. Romo is then able to call the first option of the two and can elect to “kill” the first called played option for an opportunity to run the second play option if he sees something within the defensive alignment that is potentially unfavorable. Doubtful that Tony Romo was oblivious to the stat sheet but just inside of the two-minute warning at the Philadelphia 41-yard line on second down and one yard to go for a first down, apparently Garrett sends in a run play option that Romo doesn’t like once at the line of scrimmage. This happens not once but twice and the Cowboys QB elects to “kill both apparent runs plays in favor of two straight passes both the same exact route and both resulting in errand passes to Jason Witten and an eventual punt negating a continued drive and a chance for the Cowboys to take momentum into the locker room at half-time. That decision was made after the both Felix Jones and Lance Dunbar had tallied up a total of 81 yards and six first downs on the ground. Whose to blame in that situation? You be the judge of that.
Cowboy fanatics be warned that all is not well on the execution or play calling front. The game that both the defense and special teams played for Dallas nullified coaching issues and offensive production issues. Tony Romo has moved to 20-3 in November for a .870 win percentage. The Cowboys will play the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles within the next three weeks all of which have combined for a total of eight wins. After December 2nd the Cowboys will run a three game gamut consisting of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New Orleans Saints. Two of those games are at home but December hasn’t been kind to Tony Romo. December seems to be Romo’s Achilles heel, the Cowboys QB manages a meager 10-17 record for a .370 winning percentage over the last month of the regular season.
The Dallas Cowboys have an agglomeration of issues to resolve between now and December. Where the Cowboys go from here will be anyone’s guess but it all begins with Sunday’s match-up against the Cleveland Browns and another rookie quarterback. The game will be played at Cowboys Stadium in what essentially needs to be a one game at a time approach for the novice head coach Jason Garrett and a team that needs to hurry through a continued accelerated maturation process.
Currently Cowboys center Phil Costa has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns and back-up center Ryan Cook is listed as doubtful, making room for the possibility that guard Mackenzy Bernadeau will have to fill the void in the middle of the Cowboys offensive line leaving Derrick Dockery to play guard. It’s beginning to look as if the recently returned Browns second year defensive tackle Phillip Taylor and Jabaal Sheard could present problems along the line. With problems specifically along the interior offensive line we can expect Tony Romo to be under constant pressure yet again.