Like many of you, the start of this week was frustrating for me. Last Sunday, we witnessed one of the most epic Cowboys games ever end heartbreakingly short of a win.
I’ve been conditioned to losses, but this one hit harder than usual. On Monday I was still sitting there wondering where everything went wrong, trying to figure out who was to blame
I guess it was the reflexive response to how impressive that game was. To see my team going blow-for-blow with (arguably) the greatest quarterback of all time on (arguably) his greatest team of all time…it was awesome.
Behind his first competent line in years, the undrafted guy from Eastern Illinois University was putting on a show equal to the virtuoso performance of the former #1 overall pick. Not only that, everyone else around him was making plays. Dez, Terrance, Witten, Dwayne, Beasley, Murray, everyone got the ball, everyone contributed.
This is the Cowboys offense we saw flashes of last year, when five 4th quarter comebacks were needed to put the team in position for the playoffs. A more refined version of the offense we saw in 2007, when a QB still learning the position lit up the league with a loud-talking, hard-playing Wide Receiver. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
And it’s happening because Romo finally has an offensive line.
As Tom Ryle at Blogging the Boys covered earlier this week, the Cowboys offensive line has stabilized over the past few weeks in regards to their Pro Football Focus game ratings. Since Brian Waters has been introduced, the line has been stacking good game after good game. PFF aren’t the only guys to notice. Advanced NFL Stats has the Cowboys line rated as the fifth-best in the League. (Interesting side-note: Jacksonville’s line is ranked #1. This is why Romo deserved the money he got this off season. In this league, if you don’t have a QB, you’re done).
This story goes back to the off season. During contract talks Romo and Jerry both spoke about getting Tony an “extra half second” of time in the pocket. After Dallas drafted Travis Frederick in the first round, this was the reported conversation between him and Jerry:
Romo called and said, ‘Thank you for my extra half second,’ ” Jones said during a press conference Thursday night. “That is going to mean more to us than anything I can say.”
The addition of Brian Waters since then has only made things better.
What does this mean going forward? Jason Witten had this to say after the game:
“You leave this game and obviously you’re crushed and disappointed…But offensively, this needs to be the standard in which we play to give ourselves a chance to win.”
“There’s no other way…I think he’s exactly right. There’s no other way to put it. We are explosive. We are, and that’s our identity, an explosive offense. I think we showed that.”
If you think they’re exaggerating consider this: The Cowboys averaged 9.6667 yds/play against Denver. An NFL team has only accomplished that feat (9+ yds/play) one other time in 1000 games going back to 2010. This offense has the talent to not just be good. They can be Great.
If this is what Romo and his weapons were able to do in only their second game under a stable offensive line…what will happen as this unit gets even more experience together?And by the way, if you’re worried about Romo being shaken after this loss – don’t be. If anyone has the experience with adversity to shake off a crushing defeat it’s Romo. This is what he had to say this week:
“The great thing about sports is you get to compete and you don’t always succeed and you don’t always fail…The thing about it that’s great is that you just got to keep getting better and if you keep getting better eventually you’ll achieve your goals or give yourself the best chance to do that.”
When asked about the game, he had the same mentality as Witten and Bryant; that what happened on Sunday is what the team should expect of itself:
“I don’t think you think of it in those terms…You just keep trying to get better and improve. You want to be able to play games over and over again where you play at a high level. That’s the goal.”
It’s always been the goal. But with this offensive line the Cowboys have a much better chance at obtaining and maintaining that standard.
The Denver game was dissapointing in how it ended, no doubting that. But as a fan, you have to be optimistic going forward about this offense. While I expect it’ll be a while before we see them put up another 48 points, this group is poised to become a powerhouse. The line is set, the weapons are there, and Romo (with a stat line of 1,523 yds, 71.8% completion, 13TDs, 2 Int, 114.3 QB rating, and, as Bill Simmons put it, 7-8 unofficial WOW plays this year) is playing at an MVP level through the first five games of the season.
Bring on Washington.