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Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets Week 1 Review: Romo at Fault? | The DC Times

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Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets Week 1 Review: Romo at Fault?

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Jonathan Bales

I apologize for the delay in posting, as this loss was a difficult one to swallow.  Despite never losing a game when up by 14 in the fourth quarter (246-0-1), the Cowboys managed to quickly blow that lead against the Jets last night.  According to Advanced NFL Stats’ win probability formulas, Dallas had a 96 percent chance of winning the game at one point.  In a period of 2 minutes and 31 seconds in the fourth quarter, the team’s odds of winning dipped from 91 percent to just 36 percent.

Starting the season 0-1, especially in the fashion in which the ‘Boys did so, is never okay.  I do not believe in “moral victories,” and I would much rather see the Cowboys play like garbage and get a win than outplay their opponent and lose.  Having said that, there are a few things I saw which should provide Cowboys fans with a lot of hope in 2011.  Here are some of my thoughts, good and bad. . .

  • Tony Romo didn’t lose the game for Dallas, but his fourth quarter play was unintelligent.  The interception to Darelle Revis is one thing, but the decision to run the ball on 3rd and Goal and dive short of the end zone was a poor one.  Romo fumbled the football and, instead of potentially going up by 10 points with a field goal, the contest remained a one-possession game.  We’ll see how Romo responds next week, but I’m really disappointed in his decision making down the stretch.


  • A lot of writers have criticized Garrett’s call to throw the ball on Romo’s 3rd and Goal fumble, but those criticisms are unwarranted.  The Cowboys will be far more aggressive in 2011 than in past years, as should be the case.  If you don’t trust your players to throw the ball on a 3rd and Goal inside the 10-yard line, you have a problem.  I realize a field goal puts you up to scores, but intelligent aggressive play is superior to passive play.  The problem came in Romo’s decision to dive and not protect the football, not in the decision to throw the football.

  • A large part of the blame for Romo’s interception can be placed on Dez Bryant, who remained on the field despite being obviously detrimental to the offense.  An even larger portion of blame can be placed on the coaches who left Bryant out there.  Someone has to see Bryant’s lack of explosion and pull him, whether he wants to come out of the game or not.  Dez Bryant at 90 percent is fine.  Bryant at 50 percent is not.


  • Jason Garrett’s biggest task as a play-caller is going to have to be getting plays in faster.  The offense allows the play clock to run down to one second on just about every play, allowing defensive players to pin their ears back and anticipate the snap.  This has been a problem in Dallas for a few years, and it stems from the fact that the team calls two plays in the huddle.  Whenever you hear Romo yell “Kill,” he is alerting the offense that the first play he called is dead, meaning they will run the second play he called.  All of that verbiage takes time, however, and Garrett will either need to speed up his calls or start providing Romo with just a single play to run.  I would prefer the former option, if possible.


  • Phil Costa snapped the football early on multiple occasions.  I always through Andre Gurode simply went braindead from time to time, but perhaps there is something flawed with the offense’s Shotgun snap signals.  For a coach who prides himself on his attention to detail, you would think simple things like snap counts would be worked out (whether the system or the players are at fault).


  • I was really impressed with Tyron Smith.  He played very well, allowing a few pressures but generally thwarting his man.  Even more impressive was his toughness to come back from a hyperextended knee he suffered just a few days prior to the game.  When you combine that with Smith’s versatility to overpower defenders, get to the second level, and recognize blitzes, you have to be really excited about what the Cowboys may have found in him.


  • How about Sean Lee?  From the run game to the interception to special teams, it was a hell of a night for the second-year player.  He looks far more comfortable on defense, flowing well to the football.  Again, be excited about what you saw out of Lee last night.


  • Felix Jones is obviously going to be the workhorse in the backfield this season.  He didn’t quite display the explosion he showed in the preseason, but he’ll be fine.


  • I knew we would see a lot more innovative looks from Dallas than we saw in the preseason, but the abundance of unique blitzes, twists, alignments (plenty of one down lineman looks) was surprising.  Like I suggested in my Cowboys-Jets preview, Rob Ryan manages to maintain aggressive play without sacrificing safe coverages.


  • The largest improvement no one is mentioning is the tackling.  Aside from a horrible tackle attempt from Alan Ball, the tackling on defense was outstanding.  Even Mike Jenkins got into the act.


  • DeMarcus Ware was DeMarcus Ware.


  • Danny McCray really surprised me.  I knew he is perhaps the team’s top special teams player, but his sack and forced fumble play was outstanding.


  • The Cowboys didn’t lose the game because of injuries, but you have to think their chances would have been a lot better with Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins healthy for the entire game.  Bryan McCann made some plays and Alan Ball wasn’t atrocious, but you lose a lot of flexibility in the secondary with just two cornerbacks left unscathed.


  • I’ve long been a proponent of David Buehler remaining on the roster due to his strong leg, but if he isn’t generating touchbacks on nearly every kickoff, what’s the point?


  • Romo’s fumble, his interception, the injuries. . .there are a lot of things which could have changed the outcome of the game had they gone differently, but the most obvious one is the blocked punt.  That was an assignment error and obviously cannot happen.  One of the things which I was looking forward to most with Garrett as coach was the reduction of mental mistakes and superior special teams play.  For at least one play, those things disappeared. . .and so did the win for Dallas.

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22 Responses to Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets Week 1 Review: Romo at Fault?

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Good words, JB, very good.

    DEFINITELY second the notion that Dez shouldn’t even had been on the field in the 4th – he had been dogging it since the 1st half. I think sometimes even the coaches become overly enamoured w/ a great play or tremendous effort early in the game to make the necessary corect decisions later in the game. There’s been a lot of discussion about Ogletree/Harris and who’s WR3 – other guys are on the team for a reason. If someone’s injured, you put their replacement in and keep going. That should have occurred in this case – perhaps if Dez wasn’t in on special teams, this wouldn’t even be an issue to discuss.

    I disagree about FJ being the feature back (and probably will for the next 2-3 years). I don’t think that’s should be his role. But, hopefully, FJ proves me wrong.

    BLOCKED PUNT? A lot of people speculate that the Cowboys were better than the Jets and that they just got lucky. Well, perhaps the Jets appeared to be not as good as the Cowboys in regular areas (offense and defense) because their coaches decided to practice special teams more than most other teams. The Jets blocked a punt and their kicker hit a 50 yarder. Our special teams GAVE UP the blocked punt and had an opportunity to down a punt on the 1 yard line but ended up producing a touchback.

  2. JJ says:

    Hard one to swallow. No reason to lose. A few of my thoughts just for the sake of online discussion:

    I think Tony helped the team prepare to win but he did cost his team the game. If this is HIS team, he let them down.

    I told my wife (who was just indulging my angst) I could not understand why in the heck Dez was in the game. It was like he was given a epidural.

    I agree about Buehler. We could have had Mario Butler dressed.

    I disagree a bit on the secondary. McCann and Ball hurt us. Big plays to the old man Burress and big 3rd down conversions may have been thwarted with Jenkins/Scandrick….McCann is too short and Ball played 20 yards off the line. I heard the defense say how great the WRs were of the Jets. Really? They are a slow bunch and with our slow safeties on the team, I am concerned when we come up against fast and strong WRs.

    Tyron Smith fought. He picked up an rush twice which allowed Romo to throw and gain big yards. He is a player.

    So is Sean Lee. I’m sure you’ll study this JB but when Lee comes on as he has, I wonder why we don’t hear more from Spencer and Ratliff….if a 2nd year guy can do this, where are the supposed other playmakers outside of Ware in the front 7?

    I love Felix but I have serious doubts about him being a workhorse. He needs to be in space…every run between the tackles seems like an energy sap on him and thus, lost explosiveness. Watching Murray run so upright and Choice not set the world on fire, makes you wish you had a RB that could spell Felix and lay some wood on the D.

    On a few occasions, I though Phillips was Witten…that’s a good thing.

    As much as Romo lost his poise (and i’m a romo and garrett fan), I though Garrett did as well. Keeping Dez in the game (not just at the end) but after seeing him gimp around for 1 series was needless. Perhaps this answers the question of how much confidence there is in the WR corp should Dez or Austin go down.

    I did think the team played hard and was in position to win. Still would like to see them be more intimidating and never take the foot off the pedal.

    Let’s hope Newman can play. We have the most injury prone corners in the league.

  3. Rick says:

    I don’t blame them for leaving Bryant on the field. He was drawing Revis away from Austin, do you think Ogletree would’ve done that? Forcing the ball to a hobbled Bryant with Revis on him throughout the second half is what made no sense.

  4. john coleman says:

    I would only blame Romo for a poor decision and not securing the football. If I remember correctly it was someting like 3rd and 20 when he threw the pick. I question why we were even going to a guy who was somewhere between 60 and 75%. Bryant at full speed and strength/uninjured has a chance against Revis.

    The game was clearly lost by a punt block for a TD and a failure to be able to run the ball and salt away the clock. Screens and short passes to the TE/RB against LB’s was a more favorable matchup.

    No moral victory, but the Boys proved they are formidable challenge. If not then the Jets are not very good. Two straight AFC Championship appearances would seem to dismiss that notion. Considering rookies, a short offseason, a new D, and a quality opponent, the only disappointment is losing a game we in really controlled.

  5. john coleman says:

    Oops. – in reality controlled.

  6. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Rick, I hear you bro…

    But, if you recall in the 1st half, Olgetree caught a pass in front of Revis for the 1st down. Revis is good but that doesn’t mean you don’t put a healthy player opposite him to make him work. Putting a gimpy Dez in front of him decreases his workload (allows him to rest) and further damages Dez. Who knows, maybe Ogletree gets in and makes a few more catches on him…or maybe Revis runs into his own player trying to cover him on a crossing route. We can “what if” this to death but IMO, leaving Dez in was just not a smart move.

    Jonathan, I’m wondering if there’s a way to “track” FJ’s explosiveness. Perhaps give him a rating . . . . I’d like to see how he holds up and how explosive he is in game 14.

    And, let me state unequivocally, ROMO DID NOT LOSE THE GAME. He doesn’t play on punt team. He also doesn’t play defense. I’m sure part of the reason for forcing what was an obviously bad throw was self-precribed pressure to get a 1st down (and not have to put the punt team on the field again). I’m not excusing him or trying to be a homer – most of you who know me know I don’t think he’s really all that great – but he did not lose the game. He just didn’t win it for them, either.

  7. Knowbody Knowsbetta says:

    First off, Special Teams Coach got out coached..plain n simple. That cost us the game. PERIOD. It was the momentum turning point as well as 7 points. No other play from the game cost us that many points.

    Lets start here. Bryant was hurt. Some idiots in my city in NY tend to think Revis was wearing Dez out….HA….It was the punt that did it dude…he got the Quad there and plus cramps..Revis did nothing except that INT in the 4th.

    Secondly, Bryant probably needed to be on the field. I’ll explain. If Bryant isnt on the field then some knuckles head (you know who you are) would have been screaming on blogs . Imagine if we had the same thing happen (int) but with another WR in place of Brant people would have blown a load.
    Next , sometimes a player is there for deception. Meaning Dez needed to be in the game to keep the coverages rolled his way. Its a way you keep defense honest (football 101).
    Funny enough, Revis got beat by every Cowboys receiver (Dez, Austin and even Ogletree) so please dont go there. Another funny note is how people wanted to cut Olgetreee or saying we need a veteran 3rd WR….he answered the non believers. Cowboys fans are too jittery. Always rash judgements and statements (See the Troy Hanbrick rule)
    The O-Line did very, very well. Oh, didnt people cry that we needed something better than a 7th rd, Rookie FA pickup?? I think they did just fine!!
    Everyone doubted YOUR team, and THE guys showed they could play with the best of them. We will be fine.

  8. Knowbody–I understand the point from both you and Rick about Bryant drawing Revis, but I’m not sure it was worth it. I would rather have Ogletree out there with more options (Austin can still get open on Revis and Ogletree on Cromartie) than a helpless Bryant. There was no way he was going to get open at the end of that game.

    Tyrone–An rating of FJ’s explosiveness is a cool idea. I will work on that..will probably need at least half a season of data before I can make any claims, but stay tuned.

    JJ–I think Felix should be the “workhorse” simply bc he is by and far the top RB on the roster. If the Cowboys had a backup near his talent level (DeMarco Murray, maybe), I would advocate a more even split of touches.

  9. john coleman says:

    I still think Tanner needs a shot. He had the 2nd best average in preseason and found holes that Miller didn’t find. I see him getting his chance soon. Maybe as soon as San Fran. I think he has the knack.

  10. JJ says:

    It will be very interesting to see how Felix holds up. I think he should get the majority of snaps but he’s never been a 30 carry guy…it concerns me a bit.

    Still really happy about Lee. It’s amazing what one good player can do for a team and if we ever draft a stud safety, it will show there too. Nothing against Brook or Brady but we haven’t seen a LB cover well in quite some time.

    In watching the Pats, you can only hope that the Oline gives Romo that kind of time one day…whether it’s Ogletree or Ovaltine, Romo will pick apart a D with more time.

    Heard much about how Nagy just needs to get stronger. That’s not going to happen this year but the growth of the OL will be fun to watch.

  11. MJ says:

    Great points, as always, Jon. I watched Coach Garrett’s press conference from yesterday and he mentioned there were some headset-to-helmet communication issues on Sunday and that may have contributed to the rushed situations and delay of game penalties.

    What I often notice is Romo spends a lot of time in the huddle “coaching” the guys up–pointing to one guy, gesturing to another–that I don’t know how how much Coach Garrett is to blame for the situation. He mentions that he tries to get the plays in quickly and again, I think Romo’s got to do a better job of getting out the huddle.

    I’m excited to see how the ‘Boys bounce back on Sunday and look forward to your previews on the 49ers and how we should attack them.

  12. Vince_Grey says:

    I have mixed feelings on this game. First, I was prepared for a Dallas loss, so the eventual outcome didn’t rock me as many loses have, but the way it happened definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Romo – No, he didn’t lose the game by himself by any means, but his fumble was devastating. We score 7 there and it’s all but over. Fumbling isn’t a QB “thing” as all players are prone to them, but it was a huge turnover, no question. OTOH, had TR not played so well before then all this angst would have been moot because the Cowboys wouldn’t have been in any position to win regardless, so there it is. The interception at the end was irritating, but there was no guarantee we would have won even had the throw been incomplete. Bottom line however, in football it’s most often the bad plays you avoid that win you the game, not the big plays you make.

    Blocked punt – Inexcusable. Period, end of discussion.

    Injuries – What is it with this team and all the nagging injuries? Especially with our “speed” guys, the DB’s and receivers? I think we need a new trainer or something. I’m serious. It seems like with our DB’s this is an every year thing.

    JB – I wasn’t quite as thrilled with D-Ware as you were. I know he had two sacks, but he still has stretches where you don’t see him much. I know the Jets have a top O-line, but still. I’d much rather see Ware putting consistent pressure for 4 quarters and have no sacks than 2 sacks and a lot of disappearing. I’m not saying he played badly, or even close, but when I compare him to Haley and Martin in their primes, he’s just not in their league yet.

    Witten – Skip Bayless had an interesting take on Jason’s long run and failure to score. At first, I thought he was goofy (Not an unusual thought with Bayless) but the guy may be on to something. Skip basically said that Witten should have lowered his shoulder and ran over that Jet’s safety for the score rather than get pushed out of bounds short of the goal line. The safety, Leonard, who is like 5′ 9″ and 190-ish, is a tough little sucker, but JW is half a foot taller and out-weighs him by 70 pounds.

    Bayless may have a point here. What does everyone else think on this one?

    O-line played great all things considered, though I want a much better running game.

    Hard to grade the D overall with all the injuries, but they gave up 20 points on the road. Not bad. Disappointed in the lack of turnovers however.

    Let’s see how the team responds this week, then we’ll have a better idea of what’s what.

  13. Vince_Grey says:

    BTW, I want to add that mainly, most of all, this team has to get the idea in it’s head that it’s a hard-nosed, tough-minded team confident that it can find a way to win.

    It’s all about attitude and this team just doesn’t have that yet.

    After years of Wade (puddin’ soft) Phillips and some bad eggs more interested in picking up Jerry’s checks than winning football games, it’s going to take Garrett some time to turn this thing around. Indeed, there may be some players who still need to go bye-bye for this to happen, but the lockout may have forced JG to hold off a bit in cleaning house.

  14. Jonny Danger says:

    Vince, Personally Yes Romo’s fumble was disappointing, the Blocked Punt was a joke and inexcusable, the interception to Revis was just stupid but Witten not getting the Touchdown pissed me off more then anything else. I’m glad you brought that up.

    My brother and I were talking about the effort and lack of power he showed to “get it in” for hours and even in to the next day. I re-watched the play over and over to see if he showed signs of being hurt or was the angle bad or whatever. But no he just seemed to kind of over think the hit, puss out and go out of bounds. Had he made any kind of attempt to run through the Safety and fight for the extra yards. We quite possibly would not be here talking about a devastating loss, nor Romo being a “Choker” as the media loves to portray him as. I love you Witten but COME ON MAN!!!

  15. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG hit it on the head…

    Winning is not an action, it is an attitude. Players/teams go out on the field/court w/ the thought process that there’s NO WAY they’re gonna lose the game. They execute plays as if they’re supposed to work. The expectation is there. The understanding of the game plan is there. I think OchoCinco said it best when he admitted being in “awe” of Brady and the Patriots offense. That makes sense coming from him after lanquishing w/ the Bengals while his teammates (and ex-Patriots even) see what happened as a little better day than business as usual.

    The Boys are going about business the right way and I do think JG will get that expectation level to where it needs to be – but epic failure losses like this one don’t help.

    As far as the Witten effort at the end of the play – here’s a theory (stay w/ me here). I think that Witten, like many other bigger players such as D linemen, are actually fairly tired at the end of long runs. Leonard, who is so much smaller, is less winded and therefore had greater energy. I do agree, Witten lowers his head (much like Lee tried to do after the interception) and he scores.

  16. Vince_Grey says:

    First game of the season, Witten was almost certainly gassed by the end of that run. And, to play my own devil’s advocate, I think he thought he could aim for the corner and stretch the ball over the pylon for the score. Problem was, Witten’s not 23 anymore and doesn’t have the speed he had back then.

    JW’s not a guy I’ve ever complained about on giving max effort and we all know he’s no wuss. He just made a bad decision and one I’m sure he regrets today.

    Bottom line, there’s a lot of blame to go around for this loss and more than a few guys to lay it on, but to hear all the media talk, it’s all on Romo. Romo’s fault and no one else’s. The other 52 players are blameless.

    It would be so refreshing to hear one or two media types NOT mimic the MM’s talking points on TR.

  17. Pingback: Why the Cowboys Must More Effectively Manage the Play Clock | Dallas Cowboys Times

  18. MJ–Good point about Romo “coaching” up guys in the huddle. Again, that comes down to the coach making sure everyone understands their responsibilities. Romo telling guys what to do or “extra” things once in awhile is fine, but it cannot happen consistently when you are calling two plays in the huddle.

  19. Vince–Tough call on Witten. You’d love to see him lower his shoulder, but he’s not a run-after-the-catch type guy anyway. Tackling is just as much about leverage as power and size, and I don’t know that Witten gets into the end zone anyway.

  20. Also really like Tyrone’s point about Witten. May seem silly at first, but Witten had longer to run, is bigger and, despite being in great shape, running that far for anyone will get you winded.

  21. Lastly, be sure to check out and comment on my latest article on the team’s play clock/audible woes. We should get a fine discussion going regarding some of the numbers posted there.

  22. Jonny Danger says:

    Just simply ranting. Fallout from a bad loss. I just expect are Superstars to always make the big play and he seemed more the capable of putting that ball in the end-zone. I was rash with my wussing out comment. I don’t truly believe he is that nor has he ever been. Its just upsetting to see Dallas come out in a reasonably good fashion take on a great team and for the most part outplay them even with all the injuries. Then just silly bs ends up losing it for us. Anyways on to the Niners now huh I got my tickets ready and will be enjoying my very first football game in person.

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