The Cowboys had a chance to show they belong in the upper echelon of NFL teams last night, but they looked more like a team that has overachieved to even have five wins this year. I wrote last week that there were more questions than answers about this team and they didn’t answer them last night.
Every time the Saints got the ball, in no time it seemed they were in the red zone. And once they got there, many more times than not, they scored touchdowns. It didn’t help that two of the Cowboys starting linebackers, Sean Lee and Justin Durant both left the game with injuries. The Cowboys were struggling enough even when they were in there. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, the only original starter on the defensive line in the game appeared to re-injure his quad muscle but toughed it out and continued to play, which leads to the question, wouldn’t a healthy backup player be able to do more than an injured Ware?
As the game wore on, the Cowboys started missing more tackles, not to mention allowing receivers to consistently beat coverage, if not wide open and uncovered. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around it was just sad. I know this defensive scheme is sound, look at what Seattle does with it. So is it the Cowboys players or defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s play calling? I hope someone figures it out pretty quickly. Last night sure made me wonder if maybe Rob Ryan shouldn’t have been given another year. One thing for sure, if he was looking for revenge he got it last night.
On offense, the Cowboys couldn’t do anything, including converting third downs. Yes they made a field goal and scored a couple of touchdowns, but that will hardly do when the other team is making a run at the record for most first downs in an NFL game, which they broke, and scoring almost every time they get the ball. The Saints double covered receiver Dez Bryant, effectively taking him out of the game, but where were the other guys? They couldn’t use double coverage on all of them. So why didn’t we see a lot more Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams? We should have seen big games from them.
I hate to sound like a broken record with complaining about the officiating, but I call it like I see. The hit on Dwayne Harris, when he had one foot out of bounds, should have been called for a penalty, the Cowboys have been penalized for far less. And every time NBC showed a replay of the coverage on the Cowboys receivers it showed them being hit and tugged on all the way down the field, not just the first five yards. Are there really different rules for the Cowboys that don’t apply to other teams? One has to wonder.
The Cowboys will have a bye next Sunday and return the following Sunday to face the Giants in Jersey. Which Cowboys team will show up, the one that beat the Giants the first game of the season, or the one that was destroyed by the Saints last night?
On a final note, injuries are rampant in the NFL this year and it’s certainly a big part of the Cowboys problems, especially on defense. And the Cowboys seem to have less depth than other teams, making it more difficult for them when a starter is lost to injury. The point is that since the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) with the players was implemented, and with its restrictions on practicing with pads, injuries are way up. It’s something to think about.