The Eleven Days of Doubt
By Jeff Magnia
After Monday night’s disaster of a game against the Chicago Bears in which the Dallas Cowboys lost 34-18, Quarterback Tony Romo’s five interceptions, and the apparent lack of cohesion on the offensive side of the ball; the Cowboys now have eleven days to debate and doubt what is going on in Big D.
Oct 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) leaves the field after throwing an interception for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Let’s start with the most obvious problem: Tony Romo appeared impatient and not letting plays develop as they should have. It also looked like his “go to” guy, Dez Bryant, were not in sync at all. Part of the problem that I can see is that Romo has to hurry up because the pocket collapses faster than it should. By the time Romo set his feet to throw the football, he has defensive lineman in his face. There were several open field passes that were over thrown to the Cowboy receivers.
Which leads me to my next point; the receivers had so many drops despite the fact that Bryant had more than 100 yards receiving. If you think about it, as it was pointed out to me while writing this article, the interceptions really started after all of the dropped passes. As I pointed earlier, Bryant and Romo were out of sync for some of the plays. And some of those plays were times we needed the two players to connect and make things happen. TE Jason Witten started coming back into his own, but having one player start catching again isn’t going to win you a game. The underneath routes were usually his best option until the Bears started covering them and eventually took Romo out of his rhythm, which I don’t think he ever really found in the first place.
The running game didn’t get started going very well at all as Demarco Murray ran 11 times for 24 yards. Felix Jones added 13 more yards off of his lone carry of the night. I will say the Bears defensive line outplayed the Cowboys offensive line. Julius Peppers wasn’t quite the factor in the game, but the remaining Bears d-lineman put up a good showing.
The Cowboys defense did a solid job in stopping the run game of the Bears, but Brandon Marshall had a really good night with 138 yards and 1 touchdown. Jay Cutler really didn’t need to put out too much effort to get points on the board; the Bear defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense did, getting 2 touchdowns. Also, the defense did an average job in stopping the passing game despite Brandon Marshall. Marshall got a ton of yards, but only one touchdown out of all those yards. If you break it down, if the Bears didn’t have 2 touchdowns off of the defense the game would have been much closer and the Cowboys would have had a better chance at victory. Unfortunately, the Football Gods have their way of doing things and such is a game.
Jun 12, 2012; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) talks with Doug Free (68) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Are there any positives from this game? Yes, the Cowboys did limit themselves to 4 penalties for the night. The offensive line seemed to have gotten it together and kept themselves out of trouble and away from penalties all night long.
The Cowboys didn’t have the services of punter Chris Jones, so Brian Moorman filled in and did a pretty good job. He pinned the Bears inside their own 10 yard line 3 times. Moorman may not be around unless Jones misses another game and Moorman continues punting the way he has.
For the next eleven days, there will be many debates on whether or not Jason Garrett needs to go; if there is there a quarterback controversy; which receivers will be rotated around to help improve the team?
As much as I think there need to be some changes in the offense, continuity maybe the answer. Let the offense build confidence within them and work out the issues as a unit. I would strongly suggest a lot more 7-on-7 practices, which is basically the receivers and quarterback working on their timing and gaining that trust between them. The offensive line needs to continue to gel and get better. Once the offensive line and the receivers’ workout their issues, the running game will pick up and the Cowboys will be back on track.
They better hurry, eleven days from now they have the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Lewis and company are hosting the Cowboys and I wouldn’t mind a little payback for the beating the team took in the last game in Texas Stadium.
The pain of losing hurts especially on a Monday night, but despite the problems the Cowboys have fixable problems. Winning has never started on game day, but it starts on the practice field at Valley Ranch. The Cowboys have a bye week this week, so instead of worrying about taking time away, they better put the work in to get better.