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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins, Week 1: Initial Post-Game Notes

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Play-Calling

  • This will sound ridiculous, but other than two or three plays, I loved Jason Garrett’s play-calling.  He actually did a tremendous job of being unpredictable, but it just didn’t work out. . .this time.  If he continues to call plays in this manner, the Cowboys will be successful on offense.  Trust me.
  • The play-calling out of “Double Tight Strong” was tremendous.  Remember how the Cowboys ran a strong side dive out of the formation nearly three-fourths of all plays last year?  Well last night, they ran a toss, a counter, and my personal favorite. . .a strong side dive which turned into a halfback pass.  It didn’t work out, but that was simply because Washington was in the right defense for it.  That sort of innovative play-calling from Garrett is new and will help the Cowboys win an extra game or two this season.
  • The most obvious exception to Garrett’s success, and the primary reason the Cowboys deserved to lose the football game, was the decision to pass the ball with four seconds left before halftime.  Play-calling is all about risk/reward, and the possible reward in that situation was almost nothing.  It is a shame Garrett’s improvements the rest of the night were wiped away by one dumb decision.
  • The Cowboys need to stop throwing so many smoke screens.  Last night, they threw them against what appeared to be man coverage, when the cornerback was too close to the wide receiver for them to be successful.

Offense

  • You have to at least be somewhat excited about Tony Romo’s ability to bring the troops back down the field and in a position to win the game with about a minute to go in the game.  He didn’t play his best last night, but he was at his best when the Cowboys most needed it.
  • Who thought the rookie from Oklahoma State would be the Cowboys’ most-targeted receiver last night?  He did some good things, but he also appeared to miss a few hot reads.  That will come with time.
  • It is great to get Bryant involved, but if it comes at the cost of not throwing to Jason Witten, then the Cowboys might have a problem.  He had some favorable match-ups last night, but the Cowboys went other directions.
  • Can we agree Miles Austin is the real deal?  He is a running back playing receiver–and a Pro Bowl-caliber one at that.
  • It has to be said. . .Alex Barron was awful.  We all know it, so I won’t go into detail until I break down the tape.  If you feel bad right now though, imagine how he feels.
  • Tashard Choice’s first career fumble came at the worst possible time.  Still, I blame the coaches more for that play than Choice, even though he should have known to simply go down.
  • The Cowboys used undrafted rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski quite a lot.  He looked good on his lone carry, but Dallas needs to be careful with the play-calling when he’s in the game.  His presence could tip the defense to either a fullback dive or a pass (otherwise Deon Anderson would be in the game).
  • Other than one play, Andre Gurode had a good game.  He manhandled Albert Haynesworth at times.
  • Mike Jenkins showed why he’s probably the Cowboys’ best cover corner, but he still needs to tackle better.  His form is awful.

Defense

  • I was really shocked with how much playing time Josh Brent got.  He appeared to be in most of the time with the nickel defense and even some other situations.
  • Victor Butler was one of the few Cowboys who didn’t play well against the run.  He held up well during the preseason, but last night he got overpowered at the point-of-attack.
  • Did we all see how important Marcus Spears is to the Dallas’ run defense?
  • DeMarcus Ware was absolutely everywhere last night.  That’s true every game, but he looked particularly amped up for this one.  Let’s hope his injury isn’t serious.

Special Teams

  • I think the Cowboys need to pick a return man and stick with him.  The revolving door of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Dez Bryant, and Felix Ogletree doesn’t allow one guy to get in a rhythm.  Akwasi should be the guy, in my opinion.

I am going to start breaking down the film.  I’ll post my findings within the next couple of days.

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7 Responses to Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins, Week 1: Initial Post-Game Notes

  1. Omar says:

    “If you feel bad right now though, imagine how he feels.”

    I bet you can count the number of people who give a shit on one hand.

    On Sunday against the Bears Alex Barron will still not be good at football, but there’s other things that can change. As to Garrett’s play calling, I feel as if he isn’t necessarily a bad play caller…just that he ends up outsmarting himself. I don’t see how you could have liked his play calling and say that he throws too many smoke screens, I don’t think that he got the required balance to establish the run (which yes part of that is on Choice, Barber, and Jones) to get them to stop sending the blitz all the time and respect Romo’s deep game. I was very impressed with Bryant, he was a flat out beast there…physical beat up quite a few cornerbacks and took everything head on. He caught everything that was within range, and I’m glad they’re getting him involved.

    I liked the way the defense looked, and I’m really glad that they kept Spears….Spencer, Ratliff, and Ware looked fantastic. I disagree with you on AOA returning punts. The Cowboys are dangerously thin in the secondary, and if AOA gets hurt that’s pretty big for the team, since punt returners get hit every run back I’d rather keep AOA out of there. As to Buehler, he’s a beast…maybe accuracy will come with time and maybe it won’t, but regardless of that outcome he’s a tremendous weapon on special teams, not only in being able to nail someone in the endzone everytime out but also being able to make a big tackle on returns.

  2. My comment about Barron didn’t mean he deserves another chance, but rather that there’s really no point in making the guy feel like the world is against him. Did he play like total crap? Yeah. He knows it, we know it, and that’s it. Some of the comments I am seeing about people wanting to “kill Alex Barron” and other personal attacks are ridiculous.

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  4. john coleman says:

    I agree with the overall play calling. However, There were some shaky situational plays. That RB option with Barber was a gadget play. A gadget play when the offense is not playing well is a desperation move. For that matter a gadget play anytime sucks. Man up and hit them in the mouth. The running game looked to be ok. It was surprising how we looked out of sync and sometimes like we didn’t know what to do. I loved the 4 wide looks, but we seemed lost on a few occasions. one concern was when Romo threw to Miles late, who was tripled. The ball should have been picked and Barron’s hold would probably be a moot point. Choice should not shoulder any of the blame either. That was a rookie league call by all involved. We should have took a knee. We still have/need to make people pay for blitzing by hitting big plays. Marion B III needs to save the dancing and run north and south. Why are we running sweep plays with him instead of Felix. I give Garrett a decent grade only because he wasn’t predictable. I am really sick of hearing about execution. 31 other teams did not play flawless ball. Are we to believe that our talent level requires flawless execution for us to win. I really don’t think Washington will hold many teams to 7 points or 14 either for that matter. We were just not mentally ready and that goes to the staff. I found it interesting that Hazlett told Collingsworth that they thought the could get Barron several times with holding penalties. Hum!

  5. Pingback: Dallas Cowboys at Redskins Week 1: Final Film Study Observations | Dallas Cowboys Times

  6. percyhoward says:

    We were running the ball well, and knew we’d have problems with pass protection, and yet our pass-run ratio when the margin was 6 points or less was 43-16. That’s highly questionable play-calling.

    We punted 6 times. On 4 out of the 6 series that preceded punts, we went pass-pass-pass. On the other two, we passed twice and ran once. So out of those 18 plays that made up the series that preceded a punt, 16 were passes.

    There were only six offensive series in which we ran the ball at least two times in a row. How many times did we convert the first down out of those six?

    ALL SIX!

  7. Interesting numbers. Don’t forget that sometimes the efficiency of the run increases with an increase in pass attempts. I certainly think the Cowboys should have run the ball more, but they need to find that point where total yards-per-play is maximized.

    Is that at a 50/50 run/pass ratio? Is it closer to 40/60? It probably depends on the game situation, and you’re right that the Cowboys should have run more in Washington, particularly in the second half.

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