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Cowboys vs. Vikings Week 6 Initial Post-Game Observations

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Jonathan Bales

Tough one to swallow.  Film study might take an extra day this week.

  • If you told me the ‘Boys would hold Adrian Peterson to 73 yards on 24 carries and Randy Moss to 55 yards receiving, I’d obviously be ecstatic.  The Vikings totaled only 118 yards passing overall, but again, mental mistakes cost the Cowboys–mindless penalties, yielding a kick return touchdown, and so on.
  • A lot of the Cowboys’ success came from playing Cover 1, which I talked about in my pre-game Manifesto:

I personally think the Cowboys should play a lot of “Cover 1.”

Cover 1 is basically man coverage underneath with a free safety deep.  That safety (Alan Ball) should shadow Moss during basically every play.  With Terence Newman or Mike Jenkins underneath and Ball deep, the ‘Boys should be able to limit Moss’ big play potential.

Cover 1 also allows a defense to be very flexible with their pre-snap alignment.  The Cowboys can bring eight guys into the box without much risk while in Cover 1 in an effort to be ready to stop Peterson.  Peterson should be the No. 1 priority, and if Dallas stops him, they can stop Moss as well.

Finally, there’s very little downside to playing man coverage underneath against the Vikings.  Not only are the Cowboys’ cornerbacks suited for man-to-man, but Brett Favre isn’t going to be running anywhere.  The idea of a bunch of defenders with their backs turned to the quarterback isn’t as scary as if, say, Michael Vick was at quarterback.

  • The Cowboys employed a slightly radical strategy in their Cover 1 looks though.  Free safety Alan Ball lined up incredibly deep–about 25 yards.  His sole purpose on most plays was to stop Moss from beating the Cowboys deep, and he did it well.  Dallas basically said “Here are nine guys to stop Peterson, and here are two (a cornerback and Ball) to focus solely on Moss–someone else beat us.”  It worked, making the loss that much more disheartening.
  • The excessive celebration penalty after Roy Williams’ first touchdown was called on Miles Austin, but I think it was actually on Sam Hurd.  Austin simply jumped over Williams, but Hurd was the one to simultaneously flash the UT symbol.  I believe the refs flagged Dallas for a team celebration and simply called the wrong number.  Nonetheless, why can’t we just let football players have fun?
  • It is ridiculous to me that Peterson didn’t get flagged for going to the ground after his touchdown.  He pointed up to the sky, so the refs looked past it as “prayer.”  I talked about why prayer is a poor excuse to avoid a penalty earlier, and I know I will have opposition to this, but it is insane.  What if a particular religion’s form of prayer calls for a player to expose his bare ass to the fans?  That okay too, NFL?  I mean after all, he is doing it in the name of God.  Again, my beef is that players cannot go to the ground in general, not with prayer.  But if a player can’t do it while celebrating with his teammates, how is it fair to let him do it for what is usually a “prayer” only by name, and more often simply another form of celebration?
  • Roy Williams’ play is getting overlooked because of the 1-4 record.  The catch he made in the last drive (which I realize was basically meaningless) was incredible.  The Cowboys are starting to utilize him properly, and most importantly, he’s regained his confidence.
  • Leonard Davis was the scapegoat on the offensive line last week, but Marc Colombo has consistently been the team’s worst lineman.  He gets ripped apart in pass protection and, like it or not, he’s not even that dominant in the running game.  I know proponents of Colombo will say he’s a leader and brings toughness to the offense, but I’ll take a right tackle who doesn’t get my quarterback killed over one who is “tough.”
  • I don’t know how to grade Romo’s play.  He did a lot of great things, but he also threw two costly picks.  On the surface, they look kind of “fluky,” but a ton of Romo’s interceptions are like that.  At a certain point, they have to stop.  The first one in particular may have hit a defender’s helmet, but it shouldn’t have been thrown.  The mistake doesn’t usually come in the throw, but in the decision.
  • Will the “offensive balance” nuts be quiet going forward?  I’ve talked about this ad nauseam–running the ball often doesn’t win football games, running it efficiently does.  The Cowboys ran it often–28 of 60 plays–just not efficiently.  Even with Romo’s three scrambles, the ‘Boys averaged just 3.36 yards-per-rush.
  • Terence Newman may be playing the best of any player on the entire team.  He’s strangely getting healthy as he ages, and it makes you wonder what he could have done had he not suffered so many injuries early in his career.
  • What is up with David Buehler’s kickoffs?  The best way to improve kickoff coverage is to not even give up returns, but Buehler’s increased role in 2010 is clearly affecting his distance on kickoffs, for whatever reason.

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14 Responses to Cowboys vs. Vikings Week 6 Initial Post-Game Observations

  1. Brett says:

    People can call me a sore loser if they want but I have been watching football for 20 years and the Personal Foul called on Miles’ end zone celebration was RIDICULOUS! Officials call Cowboys games different! Its a fact. (at least to me it is)

  2. Brett says:

    NFL: NO FUN LEAGUE

  3. Derek says:

    I’m always amazed at how accurately you assess the games before they happen. This game, however, seems to have been beyond assessment.

    This was another silly loss. But it doesn’t mark the end of the season, as so many pundits claim it does.

    The next game – if they lose – could be too much to overcome, though. With 5 division games left, a clean run there would give the Cowboys a good shot at winning the division. But it’s important to beat the Giants both times they play in the next month or so.

    You’re right about Colombo. Davis has been mediocre, at best, but Colombo has been awful. Is there any chance this Parnell guy can supplant him. And would that help anything? I have to think that anyone who can stay on his feet and show any kind of strength would help.

    It was sad to see the Cowboys actually effectively use the screen only for them to run the play to death. If Garrett would have been a little more aggressive, then the offense could have had more success in the second half.

    It’s one thing to be scared to death of Colombo getting Romo killed, – and that should be a big worry – but it’s another to fail to use Austin, Bryant, and Williams on quick fades and quick slants. Hopefully, that Bryant touchdown will instill a cavalier attitude toward throwing the ball up for grabs when only a corner guards one of the receivers.

  4. Vince Grey says:

    At home with a nasty stomach flu bug right now but I’m trying to write a complete article on the team’s woes. I’ll go ahead and say that when it comes to these excessive celebration penalties the players have no one to blame but themselves and their recent predecessors.

    Personally, I think the classiest thing to do with the ball after scoring is to simply flip it to the official, with celebrations reserved for big last-play-of-game scoring plays.

    But then it got worse with celebrating EVERY scoring play, even when down by 30 with a minute left, and then got even worse with multiple players involved, and then it got worse as players began trying to one up each other, and then EVEN WORSE as end zone celebrations became choreographed productions, and then, yes, even worse as routine plays became a cause for celebrating.

    Enough already. I watch to see football, not dancing and prancing, and strutting, around like a peacock.

    If the players would moderate themselves the rule would be unnecessary, but they won’t so there you go.

  5. Brett–Agree the celebration penalty was garbage, but I don’t think refs purposely call games differently. Perhaps it seems that way because this team is so undisciplined.

  6. Derek–Thanks for the compliments. There is zero chance of Parnell starting this year (barring major injuries), and who knows in the future. Still, the odds of a guy picked off of another team’s practice squad starting at all are small.

    And you’re right about the screens. I will get you the official numbers tomorrow, but I can tell you by glancing quickly that the number of balls attempted behind the LOS is stunning.

  7. Vince–I see your point but I also don’t think all players should be penalized for the acts of a few guys. Austin jumping over Williams’ shoulders or Hurd flashing the UT symbol is nothing. They aren’t showing up the opponent.

    Further, the outcome of some of the rules is insane. No falling down to the ground, but you can purposely go to the ground to pray? Senseless.

  8. moses says:

    Wade has instituted college rules; just hand the ball to the ref.

    One of your analysis pieces talked about how well Romo handled the blitz. A lot of the pressures seemed to come from fake blitzes that confused the OL and Romo. Routes that should have come clear aren’t there and he is scrambling (literally) to find a receiver.

    Doesn’t Garrett and the offensive coaches know that? If so, why don’t they practice it a little more so that Romo can recognize and react. If they come uo and quick count then the D won’t have time to fake the blitz and confuse.

    I duno. But right now the margin is too close between winning and losing. I don’t know if they need a FG kicker in reserve.

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  11. Moses–tremendous observation. Romo has traditionally excelled when he knows a blitz is coming, but struggled mightily against “feigned” blitzes. Garrett knows of this and the Cowboys do practice it, but at this point, I think you’re right that more practice time needs do go into making in-play adjustments. Teams like the Pats have practices that are basically completely situation-specific. Dallas needs that.

  12. Brett says:

    Jonathon—– I have to respectively disagree with your thought that “refs dont call games different for different teams” I know MOST of the issues with penalties are the players being undisciplined. However, I do think that officials go into games with a pre-conceived notion of a team and for the Cowboys it has been for a while that they commit alot of penalties. All of their opponents combined have 22 flags. We had 23 in two weeks and no fewer than 11 in any 1 game. Again, mostly it is the cowboys fault but I do not believe that the end zone penalty a week before did not make the refs look a little closer. I mean Sam hurd giving hook em horns with Roy is Petty and I dont think any other team would get that called. I respect your opinion but in this case I must disagree.

  13. I do think Hurd’s penalty would have been called for other teams simply because the league has obviously cracked down on team celebrations. Now the Colombo penalty might be a different story. . .

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