5 Thoughts on Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos

Leave Terrance Williams Alone:

With a few high profile mistakes this season, rookie WR Terrance Williams has drawn the ire of Cowboys fans. Some are mad that a rookie is being handed the WR3 job on a silver platter, while others don’t like the fact that he’s displacing a established veteran in Dwayne Harris by doing so.

While the frustration is understandable, I seem to remember another highly-touted young wide receiver that had problems with route running, drops, and overall consistency during his first year. The Cowboys were often criticized for taking Dez Bryant in the 2010 draft due to his deficiency in the mental area of the game. Three years and some great coaching later, we are all witnessing what happens when you take a chance on some raw potential.

Now I’m not saying Williams is the next Dez. He has a long ways to go before being regarded in that category. However, he has shown plenty of potential. Fans concentrating on the fumble this past game forget that he had two big catches at the beginning of that drive which were key to getting Dallas down the field. Those went along with 5 other catches, totaling 7 for 71 yards over the course of the game. Second only to Dez.

Williams isn’t a scrub. It seems like Romo is a fan as well with the way he keeps throwing to him despite the drops and inconsistencies. That’s because Tony knows the benefits of establishing trust and respect with a potentially great young receiver. Number 88 does a great job keeping that memory fresh.

Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne “Benchings”:

One of the biggest stories out of Valley Ranch this week has been that Carter and Claiborne will not be starting Sunday’s game against the Broncos. After Phillip Rivers took advantage of their “confidence issues” in coverage last week the coaching staff has decided to roll with Ernie Sims and Orlando Scandrick in their place.

This move seems great to me. It shows players that they will have to be accountable for their actions on the field, even if they’re high draft picks. This sense of accountability for play, last seen during the Jimmy Johnson era, is something that I have often heard many a Cowboys fan wax nostalgically for. Now that it is being practiced again by Jason Garrett, I don’t hear much praise for the young coach. You can call Garrett many things, but dumb isn’t one of them. The man has studied up on coaching techniques and you shouldn’t be surprised he’s stolen a play from Jimmy’s book.

Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Kinzie Ryanne performs during a timeout from the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at AT

Field Goals:

With my weekly Garrett praise out of the way, I’ve gotta say I was disappointed with his decision to let Dan Bailey try a 56-yd field goal midway through the 2nd quarter. The play lead to a 6 point swing, with the Chargers taking advantage of the great field position and giving their kicker a much easier shot at a 36-yd field goal that he converted.

I like that Garrett has faith in Dan Bailey, but a smart guy like him should’ve known that he was choosing the worst of three options. Bill Barnwell of Grantland used an Advanced NFL stats calculator to figure out that going for it on 4th down would’ve (hypothetically) netted the Cowboys +.71 points, while simply punting would’ve pretty much let them break even at +.04 points. Garrett’s chosen option of the field goal? Calculated to cost the Cowboys -.1 points.

Bailey is 7-12 for his career from 50+ yards but Garrett needs to embrace the simple idea that a kicker who is good from that far away will be even better from a closer distance. That field goal was essentially the difference between the Cowboys being rushed to get two scores with five minutes left in the game or being able to take their time down by less than a touchdown. Garrett needs to stop treating Bailey like he’s automatic from long range and focus instead on giving him easier shots.

Undefeated? Bring it on:

The Cowboys are 2-2 against undefeated teams during the Tony Romo era. He beat Manning’s 9-0 Colts in his 4th career start back in 2006, lost to the 5-0 2007 Patriots, beat the 13-0 2011 Saints, and lost last year to the 7-0 Falcons.

What does this all mean for the game today? Not much to tell the truth. If you subscribe to the argument that NFL wins and losses shouldn’t be attributed to one player (as I do), listing Romo’s career semi-success against undefeated teams as an argument for optimism against the Broncos would be hypocritical.

If the Cowboys are going to pull off this game it is going to take the whole team. Most importantly, the Defense is going to have to step up and figure out a way to slow down a man who is playing the Quarterback position better than anyone I’ve seen in my lifetime. Quite simply, if they can’t force Manning into at least one turnover the Cowboys will lose this game. Here’s to hoping that Sean Lee is ready for a chess match.

Even if this is going to be a tough game you have to love the opportunity to play against the team widely regarded as the class of the league. From the sounds of it the players are ready for a battle as well. As inconsistent as they’ve been over the years, we all know the Cowboys have the talent to play with any team in the league when everything clicks. Moreover, Denver hasn’t really been tested considering their wins have come against teams with a combined record of 4-12. Don’t count the ‘Boys out of this one yet.

Confidence from the Punter:

When asked about kicking to Trindon Holliday this week, punter Chris Jones had this to say:

“I’m not real worried about trying to kick away from him…I don’t think that’s the issue. It’s get the ball in the air, get good hang time, and let the cover team do what we’re capable of doing…Yeah, nothing special…They’re all special guys. They’re all speedy. They’re all good. But you can’t really freak ourselves out over it.”

Holliday has 2 kick return TDs through 4 games this season. He doesn’t need much space or time to turn opportunity into six points. “Special” might be a strong word, but I do think he deserves some respect at this point. The Cowboys don’t have a chance to win this game if Special Teams can’t pull their own weight along with the Offense and Defense. Jones better be ready to back up his talk.

Topics: Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo

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