Sep 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) during the first half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Observations From the First Quarter of The Season

With the Dallas Cowboys season a quarter of the way finished, I went back and watched all four games and wrote down some observations I had through the first part of the season.

Sep 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) throws a pass during first half action against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys don’t handle success well and haven’t for quite some time. What I mean by that is once something good happens, the team has a hard time duplicating that success for the next game, next series or even next play. It’s part of the reason why the team always has a “roller coaster” type season of ups and downs. Once the team wins a big game against the Giants like they have in the past two seasons, they have a let down in the following game. The same goes for last week with the blowout win over the St Louis Rams and then the loss against the San Diego Chargers. But like I mentioned before, it’s not just in the win/loss column either. It happens during the games as well.

Take for example Dez Bryant’s game against the Chiefs.  Bryant had four catches for 100 yards and a score before the end of the first quarter. He was unstoppable. The Chiefs continued to leave Bryant single covered, and yet,  the Cowboys decided to go away from him for no reason. Because he played so well in the first quarter, the team assumed that it was time to make the Chiefs pay by throwing to other players. Dez finished the game with a few more catches, but didn’t have any real impact after the first quarter. Another example is the defense. The defense created six turnovers in the Giants game, yet they couldn’t even get one in the Chiefs game. One turnover may have sealed that game. With the Cowboys it always seems that it’s one step forward, two steps back.

I think Tony Romo has been very hot to start the season. He has outplayed the rest of the quarterbacks in the division by far. Here is a look at how the quarterbacks stack up in the division after four games:

TLH 1

Tony Romo has been very accurate all year, outside of the fourth quarter of the Chiefs game. If Romo can continue to play this well, the wins will come. He is playing too well for them not to. As you expect, the rookies have had up and down seasons so far, but have also provided plenty of promise. Travis Frederick has improved each game and looks like he could be a future pro-bowl player with more experience. He is that good in the run game. It’s going to be interesting to see what this team does with Gavin Escobar. I thought he had his best game of the season against St. Louis, catching passes in the seam and also blocking well in the run game. Then Escobar managed to play only two snaps in San Diego. Was this part of the game-plan? Was he a bad match-up against the Chargers? For a team that wants to employ a base offense of two tight ends, their backup tight ends played a total of 15 snaps on Sunday. Weird.

Of all the mistakes that the Cowboys had on Sunday, Terrence Williams fumble near the goal line bothers me the least. I feel bad for the kid, but he was trying to make a play to help the team win. I don’t blame him for that. Does he need to protect the ball better? Yes. But don’t fault him for trying to make a play. He will learn and it probably won’t happen again.

What is more frustrating to me is that the Cowboy’s leaders don’t seem to step up when the team needs them the most. Go back to Sunday. Dez Bryant drops a big third down pass. Witten drops a third down pass that would have led to at least a field goal. DeMarcus Ware jumps offside on a third down late in the game that seals the win for San Diego. These kind of mistakes can’t happen from your team leaders if you want to be a good football team. There is something that I hadn’t  previously seen from Jason Garrett that I really like. He is holding players accountable for their play. Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne both struggled the last few weeks and Garrett hasn’t been afraid to bench them regardless of their high draft status.That to me demonstrates that he doesn’t care where players are being drafted and that the best players will play. Let’s just hope that this policy continues. If so, we should reap the benefits further down the road.

Through the first four weeks of the season, the team is 2-2. Two really nice wins, and two confusing losses in games that they could/should have won. What is encouraging is that the team managed to stay .500 during a season in which they are changing schemes on defense and adjusting to a new play caller on offense. I expect the Cowboys to be a much better team after the next four games of the season with a good chance to finish that quarter  3-1.

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