Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans Week 3 Initial Post-Game Notes, Reactions
Finally! The Cowboys took down the Texans 27-13, but the game wasn’t even as close as the score indicates. At last, Cowboys fans have something over which to rejoice. The Giants also lost, so it’s a good day.
- I loved the decisions to go for it on fourth down twice on the first drive. The Cowboys converted once and failed once, but the statistically correct call (even for the 4th and 2 at the 30-yard line) was to forgo the field goal attempts.
- Late in the first quarter, the Cowboys had a 3rd and 3 in their own territory. Martellus Bennett caught a pass right at the sticks, got pushed backward, escaped, but didn’t return past the first down marker. He should have gone down after the initial contact to gain forward progress (which appeared to be past the chains), but it is possible he was unaware of his position on the field.
- The 3rd and 19 run for a first down by Arian Foster was ridiculous. The Cowboys overcame it, but the subsequent field goal Houston kicked could have come back to haunt them.
- On that play, Mike Jenkins completely whiffed on a tackle attempt. He missed three on the drive. He really isn’t progressing in run support, and it is becoming detrimental to the defense. It really makes you appreciate how well-rounded Terence Newman is as a cornerback.
- The Cowboys had a big screen pass to Felix Jones called back due to a block in the back by Miles Austin. The play was a tremendous audible by Romo at the line.
- I will report back on the official numbers tomorrow, but the Cowboys definitely brought back the draw play this week, as I suggested they should. It really sparked the running game.
- In the second quarter, the Cowboys tried a backside screen to Bennett. It was incomplete due to Bennett falling, but the play looked to be wide open. Interestingly, the Cowboys motioned from “3 Wide Strong” to a traditional “Strong” formation on the play–something they had been doing earlier, but running a strong side power play from that look (below). They faked the power, so it was obviously something they had been trying to set up. Nice call, even thought it didn’t pan out.
- The pass protection was sensational. Other than one third down play on which Mario Williams came in unblocked, the offensive line, tight ends, and running backs really did a commendable job on Williams and the other Texans defenders.
- As a team, the Cowboys show poor clock awareness. There have been multiple plays this year on which players have either stayed in bounds when they should have gotten out, or vice versa. Marion Barber is the exception. He always does an excellent job in late-game situations of getting down on the ground to keep the clock moving.
- Dez Bryant is adjusting well to the NFL, but he got confused on the illegal touching rule in the pros. The touchdown he scored in the second quarter got called back because Bryant got forced out of bounds before he caught the pass. It would have been a touchdown in college (because he got forced out), but not so in the pros.
- The Cowboys didn’t appear to blitz much at all, and I liked it. They forced the Texans to beat them again and again, and even though Foster had some big runs, the Texans weren’t consistently able to move the football on Dallas. It also seemed to make the blitzes more efficient when they did bring them.
- Roy Williams’ first touchdown was beautiful. He took a hard jab step outside to get an inside release on rookie Kareem Jackson, allowing Romo room to throw the football. People might start to jump back on the Roy Williams bandwagon, but I’ve been on the whole time.
- Igor Olshansky was lined up offsides by about a foot on a play late in the third quarter. I have no idea what he was thinking.
- Orlando Scandrick still seems to be a step behind everything. Part of that is the nature of defending in the slot (a lot of crossing routes on which cornerbacks tend to get in a trailing position). Still, I thought he would take a big step forward in 2010, and while he isn’t playing terribly, he isn’t lighting it up either.
- I think Keith Brooking is playing too many defensive snaps. He appears tired at times, and it showed today in his pass coverage. Whether it is Sean Lee or Jason Williams, it would really help the Dallas defense if someone can win the nickel linebacker job.
- I know Jason Garrett likes to call two plays (the second of which is run if Romo checks out of the first at the line), but the plays need to come in a little faster. Romo is consistently snapping the ball with just one second left on the play clock, and it gives the defense an opportunity to jump the snap. Perhaps Romo can speed up his pre-snap reads as well, although that’s less likely to happen.
- David Buehler looked awesome today on his two field goals, both of which were fairly long. One was also in a somewhat high-pressure situation: from 49 yards right before half. I can’t help but wonder if this is a good thing for the Cowboys, or whether it will simply delay the inevitable.