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Cowboys vs. Eagles Week 17 Initial Post-Game Notes | The DC Times

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Cowboys vs. Eagles Week 17 Initial Post-Game Notes

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Jonathan Bales

Even though the Cowboys beat the Eagles tonight, it’s always difficult to watch your team play the last game of the season.  While the draft brings excitement to the offseason, it’s tough to know we won’t see the ‘Boys take the field again for quite some time.  Here are my final post-game notes of the 2010-11 season:

  • The offensive performance tonight was atrocious.  Against the Eagles’ scrubs, the offense couldn’t muster a point until the final drive of the game.  That’s all they needed in the end, but it obviously wouldn’t have been acceptable against the Eagles’ first team.  The predictability from coach/offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was at an all-time high.  I correctly predicted the first two plays of the game–a lead draw and a flare to Felix Jones–based on the formation.  That happened throughout the game.  As always, I will get the “Double Tight Strong” stats to you after I review the film.
  • We saw the return of the “Wildcat” tonight (I think three times), but I didn’t like how Garrett used it.  The formation is useful in obvious running situations.  That way, the lack of a passing threat is effectively negated.  Tashard Choice took a direct snap on two 1st and 10 plays, however.  Why limit the potential upside of that down-and-distance by telling the defense you have almost no chance of throwing the football?
  • I haven’t seen much from Danny McCray lately on special teams.  He made the team because of his hustle, but he hasn’t created many plays of late.
  • The Cowboys run a variation of “Double Tight Left/Right Ace” with a third tight end lined up backside.  When they do that, the play is very often a screen to the backside tight end (Martellus Bennett).  They ran that once tonight, and it didn’t work.

  • I am fed up with the Cowboys not disguising their intentions on defense.  They almost never fake blitzes and seem to always show blitz when one is on.  Tonight, Anthony Spencer lined up in the slot, near the “Z” receiver (the outside receiver on the right side of the field).  His responsibility was to cover the flat, but to have a 3-4 outside linebacker line up near a wide out is insane.
  • Bryan McCann muffed a point and lost the ball, and he was subsequently taken off of returns.  I believe it is McCann’s fourth fumble this year.  I love his upside on both kick and punt returns, but he really needs to work on securing the football.
  • Garrett decided to go for it on 4th and 3 at the Eagles’ 37-yard line, yet attempted a field goal on 4th and 4 at their 35.  Even though the Cowboys were down 10-7 before the latter, it was a poor decision.  It isn’t like the Cowboys have an automatic kicker.  When will they realize that they should go for it on 4th and medium on that area of the field, especially with David Buehler kicking?
  • Terence Newman’s decline has been steep.  His game might look good in the box score because he secured two interceptions, but both were horrible throws by Kevin Kolb.  Newman also got beat repeatedly by Chad Hall, including badly on a double-move.  Newman is one of my favorite players, but the Cowboys need to look at cornerback early in this year’s draft.
  • The spot the Cowboys received on a Jason Witten catch on their final drive was atrocious.  Witten clearly obtained the first down but was marked a yard short.  The Cowboys were told they couldn’t challenge the play, but the referee was incorrect.  Forward progress can be challenged as it relates to the spot of the football.  I’m still debating about whether I think Garrett should know that rule, but I wouldn’t hassle him too much over it.
  • On the subsequent 3rd and 1, the Cowboys ran a strong side dive from “Double Tight Left I” with Marion Barber.  Is there a worse combination of factors that could go into a single play?  Barber again stumbled after receiving the handoff and came up short.
  • I’m glad the Cowboys showed a sense of urgency on the final drive, but it still wasn’t great clock management.  With 1:40 left on the clock and a 1st and 10 inside the Eagles’ 40-yard line, Stephen McGee spiked the ball.  There is plenty of time, so why waste a down?  Maintain that sense of urgency, but don’t waste a play.
  • Later, with a 2nd and 3 at the Philly four-yard line and 75 seconds remaining, the Cowboys went into a no-huddle.  Why?  I understand you want to maintain momentum, but how much momentum will really be lost by taking 15 seconds to call a play?  Instead, McGee went to Manuel Johnson and the pass fell incomplete.  McGee to Johnson doesn’t have the same ring to it as Romo to Bryant, Austin, or Witten.
  • I was still rather impressed with McGee on the night.  His mobility really helps him, and I’d like to see Garrett get McGee on the move more often (not that it matters now).  His accuracy and decision-making both seem improved when he’s moving around or even after a play has broken down.  When he drops straight back and “follows the script,” his passes sometimes dive into the ground at the receiver’s feet.  Still, McGee’s playmaking ability has me excited.
  • Lastly, can we all just take a moment to appreciate how dominant DeMarcus Ware is?  He’s simply amazing, and the Cowboys would probably have the league’s 32nd-ranked defense without him.
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6 Responses to Cowboys vs. Eagles Week 17 Initial Post-Game Notes

  1. starred4life says:

    My offseason wish list is a fantastic Defensive Coordinator. Someone who can draw up a great game plan. One who, like you said, disguises his intentions (why we haven’t done that I don’t know). Someone who generates enough pressure to compensate for our secondary.
    Which brings me to the draft/free agency:
    -A solid Right Tackle (at least).
    -A solid CB and Safety (hopefully Owusu-Ansah is worth keeping).
    -A solid D lineman. Hopefully, Brent or Lissemore will allow Ratliff to move to the end position and if we have one more play-maker up front, we might actually be on to something.
    And a coaching staff that can get the most out of them.

  2. Starred–Your wish list makes me think the ‘Boys need to trade down even more. If they do, they’ll secure at least two (potentially) impact players in the late first and early second, plus secure more picks. More picks equals a higher percentage of “hitting,” and with talent evaluation a question mark, you want as many opportunities as possible. I do like AOA’s skill set at FS, as you know.

  3. john coleman says:

    starred4life-I couldn’t have said it better myself. If we can do what you posted and stay healthy, we can be a solid/good team.
    JB-I hadn’t really noticed McCray. Which is exactly what you are talking about. He’s going to have to step it up to stick, IMO.
    Barber continued to show why he is done. No production, even in short yardage and still trying to bounce outside. I just don’t get it!

  4. JJ says:

    Jonathan-great job as always.

    I’m hopeful that good things will come starting today for the boys. Frankly, I am crossing my fingers that Jerry will see he looked through rose colored glasses this season. He made glaring mistakes in evalation of Phillips and then his assessment of his D (including safety, DE and ILB).

    I must admit though that I’m very disappointed in the assistant coaches. We had no DBs get better…they seemed to get worse under Campo. We saw regression in Spencer and really had no development in LBs. Our defensive line was average at best. To me, this needs to point to a complete defensive staff overhaul…please no select holdovers. Let’s be honest…when Todd Grantham left…it hurt our DLine. When Sparano left, it hurt our OLine and running game….coaching makes a difference and the Cowboys had the short stick.

    On offense, while I like Garrett, it would be nice for him to be a bit more imaginative at times and “urgent” as you indicated at the end of halves. Again, I point to the lack of development of the line and poor QB coaching (whatever moxie McGee has is natural and/or learned from Kitna and Romo)…Wade Wilson IS NOT THE ANSWER.

    These items may seem minor but this staff, in my opinion, failed miserably. I give coach Joe a pass because what started as a big joke on special teams actually looked better as the season wore on…I believe Sherman handles the receivers well…I’m indifferent as it relates to Garrett and Peete as position coaches.

    Once the smoke clears and people have a real chance to view the defense (very subpar) as well as an offense led by backup QBs, an aging offensive line and a WR corp beset by injury, it’s very hard not to be impressed with what Garrett has accomplished. But, please, refresh the staff.

  5. VINCE GREY says:

    The Philly game is almost impossible to really evaluate because of the backups playing so much, so I won’t even go there other than to say with a healthy Romo, Kitna, and McGee, QB is likely the team’s strongest position from top to bottom.

    Moving on:

    – As I said earlier in other posts, on defense I see a complete overhaul of the coaching staff being the first thing to “fix”. It’s clear that in today’s NFL aggressive, attacking, ball-hawking defense is the only way to go. The time of the “bend-but-don’t-break”, “make-`em-drive-the-length-of-the-field” no longer works. Offenses, under these rules, are just too good. They’re going to score anyway, so the best way to stop them is either take away the ball, or at least put them in some long yardage situations.

    – I am stunned to see D Ware’s name atop the sack board. This is one of those situations where a stat just doesn’t tell the truth. Not saying he had a terrible year, but the eyeball test says there’s no way Ware was close to as effective as he’s been in the past. Maybe that was due to no real help from anyone else, but I still say this was not one of D’s better seasons.

    – On both sides of the ball, this teams needs a strong influx of meanness and toughness. The Cowboys are, with a few exceptions, a soft team. Garrett’s biggest problem is going to be correcting this issue. Let’s hope he learned how to fix that from Jimmy if nothing else.

    – This is going to be a big draft. I guess they’re all big, but a really good draft, coupled with some toughness, could well send this team right back to the top of the NFC East. I’m not all that sold on trading down much farther than we are now (#9), unless it’s just too good of a deal to pass on. But if we do trade down, let me throw out a couple of names:

    Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State

    I’m sick of bad snaps and poor blitz reads. `Nuff said.

    Jerrell Powe, NT, Ole Miss

    Powe is a space-eating monster, and would let Ratliff move to DE, where he might be better at these days. One draft pick, two positions made better.

    I’m just sayin’…

  6. Thanks JJ….and average at best for the D-Line is an understatement. I obviously don’t assess other teams’ lines in detail, but I can’t imagine one being too much worse. Agree totally on the assistant coaches. The Cowboys do have talented players, but they never seem to improve. Compare that to a team like New England who seems to obtain “average” players and turn them into stars.

    Vince–I think Ware’s lack of “Ware-like” play for much of the season was due more to the ineptitude of his teammates than anything with him. He’s a stud and played like it again this season, even if it didn’t seem like it all the time. Imagine if Ratliff was placed next to him at DE. I’d really like a dominant NT like Dareus to come in and hopefully solve some of the D-Line’s issues.

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