The Dallas Cowboys lost in an ugly way to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday.
I have been devouring all analysis of the game trying to get a feel for what the experts are saying for the past week. It’s negative. Negative. Negative. Negative.
ESPN Dallas writer, Calvin Watkins, and Mike Greenberg, of Mike and Mike in the morning, criticized Jason Garret. They believe that there should have been better clock management, Garrett should have had at least two plays called, and that the team should have been better prepared for an end of game situation.
Meanwhile Trent Dilfer and Colin Cowherd, ESPN analysts, put the blame on Tony Romo. Trent Dilfer said that he shouldn’t have thrown a short pass in the middle of the field with that much time left. Colin Cowherd said that time is way more important than completions.
I also saw columns blaming the wide receivers. Dez Bryant for dropping the two-point conversion. On the last offensive play of the game Kevin Ogletree and Miles Austin didn’t hustle back to the line of scrimmage while Bryant argued with the referee resulting in the Cowboys only running one play with 26 seconds left in the game and 1 timeout.
Dan Baily missed a 51-yard field goal that would have won the game (and shut the critics up). However I saw very few analysts blaming Dan Baily for the loss. Dan Baily has made a 51-yard field goal the year before, but pushed this one to the left. He is now 4 of 5 on game winning or game timing field goals.
There was plenty of blame to go around. Jason Garret, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Special Teams, Olgetree and Austin, and the penalty plagued offensive line.
However, despite all those mistakes the Cowboys almost beat a 4-1 Baltimore Ravens team. They were physical and ran the ball right down the Ravens’ throat. The Cowboys used 4 different running backs and each one looked good. Dez Bryant had another great game and Jason Witten was excellent (again) in grabbing two fourth down completions.
On the second to last drive the Dallas Cowboys drove 80 yards, converting on two 4th and 10s and were even at 3rd and 27 at one point. Including penalties the Cowboys actually drove a 110 yards on what could have been a game tieing touchdown drive.
Where To Go From Here
There is no denying the Cowboys need to improve. However, the Cowboys do not need to acquire anybody to do it. They have the talent. Here are 5 keys need to follow to have a successful season.
- Stop getting penalties – Jason Garrett was getting criticized early in the season for not running the ball, but anybody who was watching the game would tell you that running the ball was pretty much useless. Demarco Murray could barely make it back to the line of scrimmage and when he did there was almost always a penalty. It almost feels like the Dallas Cowboys are trying to move the ball against the opposing defense and their own offense most drives. Penalties are drive killers. The have the ability to stop a drive before it starts or halt a successful one. In order for the Cowboys’ offense to be successful they need be more disciplined and limit those penalties.
- Stop turning the ball over – I am a Tony Romo defender because I know what its like to have a bad quarterback (Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Clint Steorner, Drew Henson, Ryan Leaf). However, Tony is having a rough year after coming off one of his best years. Nevertheless, he has got the skills and the smarts to be a top 5 quarterback, he is just not there at the moment. But to those who doubt his clutch gene. He has 13 game winning touchdown drives and he has the best 4th quarter QB rating in NFL history.
- Get organized – Dumb down the playbook, make less audibles, or just get it together. The amount of time Romo has to waste fixing plays before they start is ridiculous, most of the problem is Dez, but I literally heard this conversation last game.
- Tony Romo (calling an audible) “blue 140, blue 140”
- Tyron Smith (Left Tackle) “What?”
- Tony Romo “Go the right!”
- Fire the special teams coach or simplify special teams – Dallas Cowboys’ special teams are a disaster. Lets review. Special teams has fumbled the ball to start the game, had their punt blocked (should have been twice), allowed a kick off return for a touch down, and missed a game winning field goal in 5 games. Most teams go a whole season without 2 of those happening.
- Continue playing good defense – On paper it looks like the Cowboys are allowing a lot of points, but a lot of those points are coming when the defense isn’t on the field. This how many touchdowns the defense has allowed each game.
- NY Giants – 2 TDs
- Seahawks – 2TDs
- TB Buccs – 1TDs (after turnover, short field)
- Bears – 2 TDs
- Ravens – 3 TDs (1 after turnover)
That is 2 TD a game. That is solid, and they are doing this with a lot of injuries to key positions.
The Dallas Cowboys are not far from being a scary team. If their offensive line can continue to make Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar look good while keeping penalties to a minimum then the Cowboys are a playoff team. However, if they continue to make stupid mistakes then Cowboys’ fans should prepare for another long year and another high draft pick.