The Cowboys kick off today at 315 pm local time, in what should be a one-sided matchup. Of course, anything can and normally does happen in the NFL, but all associated with the team believe that Dallas should be able to secure a comfortable victory at home.
Blogging The Boys, SB Nation's blog dedicated to covering the Cowboys 24/7, had many interesting articles in the wake of last Sunday's loss and looking forward to today's game.
Here's the best of the best, so you can catch up on any and everything Cowboys related. Click on the heading to open a new window in which you can read the entire article.
The Cowboys gave up two turnovers on the day, and a disgusting 10 penalties for 77 yards. Creating four turnovers saved this team plenty of times, but the offense wasn't able to translate those into a winning amount of points.
Dez Bryant also disappeared in the second half again, not seeing a single target until a last gasp, desperation heave on the final play of the game. There were some kinks in the team's offense early, possibly due to rust from the bye week and not having a chance to practice as a full unit. However, this game was there for the taking, and up 16-13 both units had the opportunity to win this game for the team.
Over the last few years, the Cowboys have oscillated between a top 10 and top 15 position in the league, with a touchdown percentage in the red zone in the mid 50%, and have been consistently above average. In '06, '08 and '10, the Cowboys saw those numbers climb close to 60%. That's not bad at all, and certainly doesn't match the widely held belief that the Cowboys have sucked in the red zone for a few years now.
...The Cowboys' TD scoring percentage of 33.3% (6-for-18) is the second worst value in the league. The only team worse are the 0-5 Rams (25%, 3-for-12). And right behind the Cowboys are the Texans (36.5%, 8-for-22), which just goes to show that being a top 10 offense and defense isn't worth all that much if you can't punch the ball in when it counts.
- The Cowboys had 23 'Blocking Mistakes' out of their 74 offensive snaps. That's over ONE THIRD of their plays! Now, here's where some forgiveness leaks in for Garrett's passive playcalling on that next-to-last drive. Romo was throwing off his back foot, constantly. There was even a play where I tweeted ' I'm gonna need u 2 keep your eyes open when you throw it Tony '. Romo admitted that he had to take a pre-game shot for his ribs which aren't fully healed and you could see that he was a bit skiddish in the pocket on several plays, falling away from the pass even without pressure in his face.
- On the next-to-last drive, the run blocking was atrocious. On 1st down, the one where any reasonable coach would call a run to get the clock moving, Phil Costa was steamrolled by blitzing linebacker Gary Guyton. Completely reverse-pancaked. On the 2nd down play, Guyton put a wicked-good spin move on Kyle Kosier, while Martellus Bennett looked completely disinterested in stopping his man. Both plays stuffed rookie DeMarco Murray in the backfield.
Step Two: Confuse and Harass Tom Brady
The Patriots offensive-line and Tom Brady were averaging less than two sacks allowed per game. The Cowboys managed three sacks against the Patriots and were pressuring Brady all game. The Cowboys had over a dozen pressures and plenty of hits on Tom Brady who was rarely comfortable in the pocket. The only way the Patriots managed to slow down the Cowboys defense was by going no huddle for the majority of the game. Several times the Cowboys were not completely lined-up when the ball was snapped and were flagged for 12-men on the field. But still, with fewer opportunities to sub-in specific rotations and less time for organized chaos prior to the snap (though some disorganized chaos was apparent) the Cowboys defense did not let Brady get comfortable in the passing game. In fact, Brady had one of his worst games all season, well below his season averages.
Passing Comp % Passing Yards TD INT Sack QB Rating Season Averages 26.6 - 39.5 67.5 360.5 2.6 1.3 1.8 104.8 vs. Cowboys 27 - 41 65.8 289 2 2 3
The Cowboys’ mid-season stretch
Here are the teams the Cowboys will face over the next eight games:
Week Team W L Pct PF PA Net Pts 7 0 5 0.000 49 137 -88 8 @ 2 4 0.333 145 145 0 9 2 3 0.400 94 122 -28 10 4 2 0.667 188 147 41 11 @ 3 2 0.600 96 83 13 12 0 5 0.000 75 128 -53 13 @ 1 4 0.200 96 121 -25 14 4 2 0.667 154 147 7 TOTAL 16 27 0.372 897 1,030 -133
The numbers from the game show some contradictory things. Sam Bradford had a lot of yards passing, but the team was unable to get into the end zone and only managed one field goal on two attempts, although they were going for it on fourth down - and failing - to try and get some touchdowns. The yards also came inefficiently, with Bradford only averaging 7.3 yards per attempt. Steven Jackson, coming back from injury, had a good game, but with the Packers taking a big lead, the Rams got away from the run to try and score. Defensively, the Rams held the Packers scoreless in the second half, but with a three touchdown lead and facing an impotent offense, Green Bay did not need to press for more points.
The 90s Cowboys were masters at this game; they enjoyed being bullies. Again and again, they extended halftime leads over the third and fourth quarters. No coach delights in being a bully more than Bill Belichick. His championship Patriots teams weren't particularly talented, but they never let up. In fact, we saw the benefits of this attitude last Sunday, as Tom Brady and crew made stops and tallied scores when they were needed.
As BTB member Fan in Thick and Thin has argued, winning and losing close games is more or less random, a 50-50 proposition (its no coincidence that the Cowboys have been 5-6 in the last eleven games). As he says, "Winning close games isn’t a sign of fundamental improvement, blowing teams out is..." If Dallas is to make anything of the 2011 season--i.e., escape the doldrums attendant upon hovering around .500--they'll need to tally some blowout wins. There is no more auspicious time to get off the close game schneid than this Sunday.