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Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears Week 2 Initial Post-Game Notes

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Jonathan Bales

This may be shorter than usual because I’m pissed.  It may also take me a day or two to drum up the motivation needed to break down the film.  Sorry for the delay, but I never hide the fact that I’m a fan first.

Play-Calling/Formations

  • The front line on kick returns is bailing too early.  They will be susceptible to a surprise onside kick.
  • Speaking of a surprise onside kick, I actually liked the Cowboys’ decision to try one in the first half.  The execution, though, was terrible.  That ball cannot be kicked up into the air so Chicago can make a fair catch.  It has to hit the ground first.  If that happens, there’s a 60 percent chance the Cowboys recover (over a large sample size). . .making the call statistically advantageous.  Again, don’t hate the call.  Hate the execution.
  • The coaches don’t get a pass on all of their decisions, though.  Although tough calls, I thought the Cowboys twice should have gone for it on fourth down in Chicago territory–once on 4th and 8 at the Bears’ 37-yard line, and once on 4th and 5 at their 27-yard line.  Not only does the math say go for it in both situations, but David Buehler was struggling.  To me, that makes the calls no-brainers.  The Cowboys ended up punting it into the endzone (gaining 17 net yards) on one and missing a field goal on the other.
  • The Cowboys lined DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer up on the same side at times, which was a new wrinkle.  It seemed to work early, but they didn’t come back to it.
  • On Greg Olsen’s touchdown, the Cowboys blitzed.  Why?  My Week 2 Game Plan said don’t blitz often, and clearly I am more knowledgeable than Wade Phillips (that’s a joke).  Seriously though, they were getting a ton of pressure on Jay Cutler with just four rushers at that point.
  • The second quarter false start by Marc Colombo wasn’t his fault.  Romo called an audible too late and the play clock ran down, forcing him to change his cadence.
  • If you didn’t notice, defensive end Marcus Spears was in the game in some short-yardage situations.
  • Lining up Marion Barber at fullback in short-yardage situations isn’t fooling anyone.  This isn’t high school football–the defense knows where he is, Jason Garrett.  Instead, why not line up in a “regular” I-formation and hand the ball to Chris Gronkowski?  He’s probably a better short-yardage runner anyway and his athleticism was likely why the ‘Boys kept him in the first place.
  • In the beginning of the third quarter, the Cowboys lined up in a formation called “Gun 3 Wide Pro” which they run a lot, particularly in long-yardage situations.  They usually line up with Jason Witten in the backfield as Romo’s personal protector.

Perhaps the Cowboys got word of our statistics that suggest Witten should be in a pass route more often, because they changed up the alignment on this formation today.  Martellus Bennett was in Witten’s spot, with Witten in the slot.

I don’t like the change, at least not as Dallas ran it today.  Bennett is a really good blocker and fine in the backfield, but the Cowboys lined up in the look on 3rd and long.  The Bears knew the Cowboys would be passing in that situation, meaning Witten can’t really create any match-up problems for them.  He (and other tight ends) are effective because their blocking ability forces teams to bring in linebackers in case the offense runs.  On 3rd and long, though, Dez Bryant and even Roy Williams, I would argue, are better options in the passing game than Witten.

Players

  • Gerald Sensabaugh had an awesome game.  He made a few really important tackles, wrapping up instead of going for the knockout shot.
  • I am still sticking with my preseason prediction that Alan Ball will be replaced by Akwai Owusu-Ansah at some point this season.  He hasn’t been good against the pass or the run.
  • AOA fumbled the ball again, although his knee was already down.  He needs to hold onto the football.
  • Does anything really need to be said about David Buehler?  He’s going to lose his placekicking job this week.
  • I don’t think Felix Jones’ extra weight is serving him well.  He looks noticeably slower than last year and he even appears hesitant on runs.  He gets the handoff, stops, and tries to jump through a hole as opposed to hitting it at full speed.  Tashard Choice needs more playing time.



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23 Responses to Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears Week 2 Initial Post-Game Notes

  1. Omar says:

    Two week, two games where the Cowboys lost to a team that they’re better than, two winnable games, and two weeks of sloppy football…I think a change is needed at the top. JJ would have been benching guys today for this shitty play, Wade’s going to take them to Dave and Busters tonight to watch SNF. Jerry Jones has fired greater coaches for lesser offense, Wade Phillips should be gone by Monday….I hate him.

  2. moses says:

    JJones runs the team.
    Unfortunately the D did not put forth a dominant performance. They needed it because the O is not there yet.
    0-2 is very disappointing. the cowboys need a real FG kicker to put points on the board to give them a chance late in the game.

  3. JJ says:

    Jonathan,

    I’ve stumbled on this site and commend you on your work. I find your posts interesting, thoughtful and insightful. Further, it’s nice to know that you are as bothered as many of the Cowboys faithful.

    Perhaps, I’m posting this for my own personal therapy as I’m still very bothered by the season. The good news is that the Cowboys are only 1 game out of first place. Yet, I have great pause as what I see as a “soft” team. A few years ago, i posted a blog related to Wade Wilson and how I felt he was not a great developer of QBs. I still don’t. Romo missed key plays today WITH plenty of time. The Choice miss was huge for example.

    Second, I really miss Tony Sparano. He instilled a killer instinct in the line. That’s missing. Houck may be good but he does not give them attitude.

    Third, I really like Campo but the DBs should be garnering much more in the way of picks. Alan Ball was supposed to help cure this. No go. I realize Sensabaugh made a couple of key plays but Free Safety is still weak.

    I agree that Felix looks slower than normal and slow to the hole.

    I have not read this yet but I’m very concerned about our ILBs. James and Brooking seem so much less effective when on the field as much as they are. The middle is soft on passing downs and at this point, either play Jason Williams or cut him. These guys need a breather because they are not playing LBs when it comes to pass defense.

    Ultimately, Wade is here because of his defense and while they put up good stats, we are losing the turnover battle and I believe the team is a reflection of him. Has good intentions. May be decent. However, just no heart nor attitude.

    I think it’s time for Romo to step up on offense as the leader and take responsibility. Put the team on your back, Tony. You seem defeated.

    I’m anxious to see what you uncover and help me understand what happened to our D in the 2nd half. No pressure. No picks. No hard hits. Soft in the middle.

  4. OmarJ says:

    i hope this to happen
    Alan Ball will be replaced by Akwai Owusu-Ansah at some point this season

    and as much as i wish this to happen, i think will not (at least not this week)

    “Does anything really need to be said about David Buehler? He’s going to lose his placekicking job this week.”
    i’d like matt stover

  5. john coleman says:

    Talk about being pissed, you should try having to watch the Panthers while your team is stinking it up. I only have a couple of issues. One is I did not like the onside call at the time. If we had control of the game and were trying to put it away then ok. In this case we had just got in the game and Chicago used the field position /score to stop momentum. Second I don’t think the weight gain has hurt Felix as much as he just doesn’t like to hit it at full speed. That’s also why he isn’t a good KR guy. I agree Choice needs the ball more and on all downs. He’s the best we have all around. I still ok with Buehler as well. three points doesn’t change the outcome of the game. The miss and the field position created by it does make a difference. I will agree with you that we should have went for it on the 4th downs. Unless field goals are 35 or less you risk giving up great field position. We need to be scoring more and it not coming down to nail biting situations. I think our team drank the koolaid again. I still believe the talent is there. Newman is saying they are not focusing in practice. That falls on the coaching staff. This season could be a repeat of 08. If they beat Houston then I’ll give us a chance. We haven’t even hit the toughest part of the schedule yet.

  6. Tom says:

    I liked the onside call at the time because our defense was playing very well, and we had just gotten a return for a TD. We don’t want to put it into one of their returner’s hands, who would feel extra pressure to make a play. It was a good call.
    I was screaming at the TV when the defense gave up the big play because of the blitz. Just dumb, dumb, dumb defensive playcalling gave up points on that drive, not the onside call.

  7. Tom says:

    (Different Tom)
    I thought the onside attempt was dumb, it’s one of those ideas that sounds good in theory, but when have you ever seen one that worked? And I’m specifically referring to the short pop up kick. Just plain stupid. Kick a regular onsides attempt if you want to(although I disagree with JB on the strategy there, why chance giving the Bears a short field when you just got the lead and momentum back)

    Ball had a poor game, and considering our next opponent, I’m nervous. Also mad about the kicking game. Buehler was doing so well, up until the point they started counting, Dallas has to bring in a more reliable vet now (let Buehler keep working with Boniol and try again next season). A great vet would be Nick Folk, who hasn’t missed a kick yet this season, looks like the good Folk is back, good for him, but aggravating for Dallas fans.

    The kickoff coverage in general has been spotty. When it’s not a TB, guys have been able to return kicks for good yardage. One in the WAS game was huge, and the opening return by Knox was officially 42 yds (to the 37 from 5 yds deep in the end zone)

    All in all, a better effort on offense (a little worse on defense) than the WAS game. Dallas outplayed the opponent again but made the big mistakes at critical times while the opponent played almost error free football.2 games in a row with no turnovers by the opponent, and only 2 penalties for 10 yds on CHI in this one. (Last week the Bears had 9 penalties for 100 yds, go figure.)

  8. Vince Grey says:

    I agree that we’re blitzing too much. Either Wade has too much confidence in our ability to single cover or he had no faith in the Skin’s and Bears O-line to block out our blitzes. Whatever, he’s been wrong more than right. Maybe he feels that will generate more turnovers, and maybe it will eventually, but it’s sure frustrating to see how so many good/great defenders can be so lacking in creating turnovers.

    Jason Garrett continues to confound me with his insistence on calling so many passing plays even when it’s obvious Romo’s having a bit of an off day with his accuracy. It’s obvious he knows offense, but the man definitely STRONGLY prefers the pass and has no patience for more than the occasional run play or two, and we can’t seem to make that work in the red zone. Wade needs to command JG to run the ball, run it some more, and then run it some more. Maybe that won’t work, but what we’re doing now sure ain’t so what’s the harm?

    Our kicker’s struggling, but I still think we made a mistake cutting Folk, because just like I figured, he seems back to his old self in NY, and I bet if we wack JB, he’ll go on to be a top kicker with some other franchise. In this case, I say give it some more time.

  9. A lot here…Omar…there’s no reason to fire Wade mid-season…I don’t think there’s a better option out there, nor do I think a Week 3 coaching change would really motivate the team.

    Moses…you can pretty much bet you’ll see a veteran kicker kicking FGs for Dallas this Sunday.

  10. JJ…thanks for reading and I’d say my writing after losses like this is therapeutic for me as well. I agree with your thoughts, particularly the one about the LBs. They are tired, and it shows on 3rd down. James has been outstanding in pass coverage for such a big guy, but his overall play is still somewhat erratic from being exhausted. The same is true for Brooking. Sean Lee needs to step up.

    This game was very telling for Dallas, but Week 3 will be even more telling. I never like to count a team out after three weeks, but if they lose, they’re pretty much done. It isn’t that they couldn’t come back, it’s just that I don’t think they have the mental fortitude to do so after starting the season with such high expectations. Romo needs to will them to a win in Houston.

  11. Omar J…I personally would like Kris Brown, but any veteran is good at this point. John—I still like the onside kick call, but someone has GOT to tell Buehler that ball needs to hit the ground. And as far as Felix, you are right, but I’m seeing even more hesitation this year than ever. He isn’t looking good even on counters after averaging 10.0 YPC on 22 of them last season.

  12. Tom No. 1—the blitz killed me too. You could see when Olsen caught it he was gone.

    Tom No. 2–The reason I like the onside kick was BECAUSE of the momentum. You’re pretty much going to have some momentum after any score, particularly early in the game. The execution was horrid, but it was open to work.

    Vince–I think you hit the nail on the head with the reason Wade is blitzing more. The ‘Boys were getting a ton of pressure with 4 rushers, so there was no need to send more than the occasional extra rusher. He wants to create big plays, but the way to do that is to let them come to you (IMO), NOT to force them. If you perform the latter, you see what happens.

  13. Vince Grey says:

    One last thing, while the week one loss could be rightly hung squarely on the shoulders of the offense, this was a complete team defeat, from the coaches, the offense, the defense, and (except for Dez) the special teams (For that lamely executed onside kick).

    Some will say the defense “hung in there” as I read one sportswriter comment, but we gave up 27 points. To the Bears. At home. In a near must win game. To me, that’s a D- grade… at best. Oh yeah, no turnovers.

    Make that an F.

  14. I wouldnt give it an ‘F’, but they certainly didn’t “hang in there.” D or D- from me.

  15. Omar says:

    As to “better replacements” Wade’s clearly not getting them prepared for the week’s game; this team is clearly very talented…since Jenkins may be out for a while I’d say that the season’s just about over; Wade’s not going to survive missing the playoffs so they may as well get rid of him and see if that motivates the team, or if another guy can at least get the team prepared for their opponents.

    The Texans are going to rip them to shreds next week, and after an 0-3 start there’s no way they’ll be playing in January. There’s no need to have a lame duck staff in place; it’s bad for morale and it hurts the team’s chances of winning. Unless you’re wanting to do some draft posturing, there’s no reason for Wade to stay. I’d rather have a guy who is coaching for a chance to stay next year than a guy who realize’s he’s already gone.

  16. I don’t think Wade is already gone. They are 0-2, not 0-8. I understand the despair you feel and trust me I’m right there, but let’s not give up on the ‘Boys. As bad as things are, they’re one game out of the division lead.

  17. Chris Stallcup says:

    Wade shouldnt be gone yet, neither should garrett. Us cowboys fans just need to tap the brakes. we can still even win the division. the nfc east as a whole arent starting off strong

  18. Tom says:

    Agree about the division being very winnable. None of the 4 teams has been impressive, and I still feel Dallas has the most talent overall. I know the media loves to whip up the drama and tension by churning out a stream of, Fire Wade, Fire Garrett, the Team isn’t as Good As We Thought, etc.

    I learned a while back to take the aftermath of losses stories with a barrel of salt grains, the bottom line is the Cowboys just need to reduce the number of self inflicted mistakes and stay healthy. Right now we are 1 game behind the rest of the Beast, with a lot of football ahead.

  19. Right on guys. Normally a team would be 2-0 by this point, so Dallas is fortunate that they are only one game out. A lot can be fixed with a win this week in Houston (albeit in a very tough game).

  20. Chris stallcup says:

    We can beat Houston by slowing the game down by running. If it starts getting pass happy the first to 20 wins IMO

  21. You can expect the Cowboys to run more this week for sure, but that really won’t be difficult.

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