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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers Week 2 Review: Legendary Romo Performance

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Jonathan Bales

Unlike most media outlets, I try to refrain from loading headlines with extraordinary or misleading statements in an effort to simply attract visitors.  Thus, when I write “Legendary Romo Performance,” I mean it.  Tony Romo not only broke a rib in Sunday’s thrilling win over the San Francisco 49ers, but he also punctured a lung.  While the injury creates a bit more uncertainty regarding his status for the Cowboys’ Week 3 contest against Washington, the fact that Romo led Dallas back from a 10-point deficit, on the road, with just over seven minutes to play. . .AND did it all with a broken rib and punctured lung. . .has to sit well with his teammates.   The quarterback who many describe as lacking elite ability in clutch situations (despite a career fourth quarter passer rating of 100.0 entering the game–best of any quarterback in NFL history) showed he can and will do everything in his power to will his team to victory.  Incredibly gutty and impressive performance by Romo.

  • Can you imagine what Joe Cowboys Fan would have been saying had Romo not come back into the game but Jon Kitna led them to a win?   Make no mistake about it. . .Kitna is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league, but the idea that he is in any way comparable to Romo is a joke.

 

  • Even before injuring his shoulder (which will put his status for Week 3 in doubt), Felix Jones did not look great.   He appeared slower than usual and tentative to hit the hole.   It was a really disappointing performance from Jones, but let’s hope he bounces back from his separated shoulder.   His value is greater than ever with Miles Austin out until perhaps after the Cowboys’ Week 5 bye.

 

  • And how about Austin? Take a look at his numbers from the first five games of 2010 before Romo went down:  33 receptions for 486 yards–numbers which put him on pace for receptions for 106 receptions for 1,555 yards.   Even with Dez Bryant emerging as one of the top young pass-catchers in the league, Austin is the 1A of the 1A/1B designation between the two.   He’s so electric after the catch, and Jason Garrett’s willingness to put him in the backfield at times, despite receiving harsh criticism, is justified.

 

  • Did you notice Phillip Tanner saw some snaps?   The young back played some fullback, lead blocking quite well, in my opinion.   He didn’t give any knockout shots (which isn’t to be expected), but he used really intelligent body position to create running lanes for Jones.

 

  • Bill Nagy looked poor last week, and Derrick Dockery wasn’t much better this week.   He was okay in the run game, but struggled in pass protection and, as you probably noticed, picked up two bad false start penalties.   Left guard is obviously the week spot on the offensive line.

 

  • Phil Costa will be out a few weeks with a knee.   This is exactly why I thought it was a mistake to cut Andre Gurode.   I’ll take Gurode and his somewhat hefty salary over Kevin Kowalski all day.   With Kowalski and Dockery next to each other, Romo probably won’t see much of a pocket for awhile.

 

  • Jesse Holley, Jesse Holley, Jesse Holley.   We could all see he was improving as a receiver during the preseason, but who knew he would be the primary target on the biggest play of the game?   Hell of a play-call by Garrett to fool the 49ers, too.   He dialed up max protection and had Holley jog out as if he was going to block, then take off down the field.

 

  • Holley’s main contributions will still be on special teams–an area of the game to which Sean Lee should not contribute anymore.   I realize special teams is important and after you take out quarterbacks, star players, veterans, etc. there aren’t a ton of options left, but Lee is too important to the defense to risk injury covering kicks.   He’s doing an awesome job at it, but he’s doing an even “awesomer” job at linebacker.

 

  • Doug Free played poorly this week.   He was continuously beat in pass protection, displaying poor feet and losing his leverage.  He got Romo killed a bunch of times, including a few when the quarterback had no idea he was about to get hit.   Rookie Aldon Smith even abused Free at times.   Free should respond well, but the challenge won’t get any easier on Monday night versus Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

 

  • Jason Witten may win the award for Most-Awkward-Run-After-Catch-Player-Ever, but he sure is an incredible football player.   He’s one of the top blocking tight ends in the league and uses a combination of intelligence and positioning to overcome a lack of elite athleticism as a pass-catcher.   He’s the prototype for why you select great football players over great athletes (assuming the two are exclusive properties).

 

  • As in Week 1, DeMarcus Ware was DeMarcus Ware.

 

  • Jason Hatcher really ramped up his play this week.   In addition to getting to Alex Smith, Hatcher was a force against the run.   Rob Ryan’s scheme is undoubtedly a big part of Hatcher’s success thus far, but Hatcher also looks quicker and more aggressive.

 

  • I haven’t seen the sort of progress from Victor Butler for which I was hoping.   He hasn’t received a great deal of snaps, but his name hasn’t been called much.  Anthony Spencer is playing extremely well against the run right now, so Butler will really need to step it up to push for snaps.   I think it’s just a matter of time before the youngster makes a play.

 

  • Despite recording an interception, Alan Ball was horrendous.   He got picked on incessantly in the first half, yielding completion after completion on critical third downs.   He eventually got replaced by recently-signed Frank Walker, but Ball was atrocious on Sunday.   The Cowboys desperately need Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick to return.

 

  • After missing from 21 yards, Dan Bailey redeemed himself with a long game-tying field goal to send the game to overtime, plus the eventual game-winner.   We’ll have to see how this one plays out.   David Buehler, on the other hand, is making a case that he should be released.   He shanked two kickoffs on Sunday.   He’s a kickoff specialist, and he has one job: put the ball through the end zone.   If that doesn’t happen regularly, he needs to go.

 

  • In my preview of the game, I argued the Cowboys should focus on limiting big plays from Frank Gore and Braylon Edwards.  Edwards got injured early and the ‘Boys did a really impressive job of limiting Gore on the ground.  He ran the ball 20 times for just 47 yards.

 

  • It was obvious Garrett and Romo made a big effort to make sure the ball got snapped with more time left on the play clock.  It didn’t hinder the Niners’ pass rush too much, but it will be important for the offense to continue that trend as the season progresses.

 

  • If you have time, check out this analysis from Advanced NFL Stats regarding Jim Harbaugh’s decision to decline a 15-yard penalty on the Cowboys on a 4th-and-1 field goal attempt (in favor of retaining the three points from the successful field goal).  The penalty would have given the 49ers a first down at the Cowboys’ 22-yard line and, given the score and game situation, a 91% chance of winning the game.  Declining the penalty provided the Niners with a 90% chance of winning, so the call was really a toss up.

 

  • Of course, the real mistake from Harbaugh came when he decided to attempt a 55-yard field goal in the first place.  Let’s do some math.  The chance of a kicker converting on a 55-yard field goal attempt is 50%. . .to be conservative, let’s say David Akers, as an above average kicker, has a 60% chance of converting.  The expected points of such a scenario is 1.8 (3 x 0.6).  Meanwhile, the expected points for an average offense who has a first down at the opponent’s 22-yard line is 4.61.  Let’s say the 49ers’ actual EP from that area is only 4.0 (since they have a below average offense).  The chance of converting on the 4th-and-1 play is historically 75%, but we’ll assume it is only 65% for San Fran (again, a very conservative estimate).  Even using those numbers, the overall expected points in the ‘go-for-it’ scenario is 2.6 (4 x 0.65).  At best, the Niners “lost” 0.8 points by attempting a 55-yard field goal on 4th-and-1.

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6 Responses to Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers Week 2 Review: Legendary Romo Performance

  1. bW says:

    JB, I’m a little confused with the numbers…no surprise I guess.

    but I don’t understand how declining the penalty and keeping the points over taking a 1st down is “a toss up” but going for the FG in the first place is a big mistake.

    wouldn’t that give even more weight to taking the first down? especially since your above average kicker should be able to make a 30+ yard FG if you don’t move the ball at all.

  2. JJ says:

    JB

    Enjoyed the overview.

    I am constantly analyzing my preseason thoughts against what I see in the games. Based on that, here’s what I know to still be true (at least to me):

    Ball is awful and Mario Butler would be better as would Josh Thomas…still don’t understand what they see in him. They had to go to a zone where Ball played underneath due to his deficiencies.

    I’m happy for Holley but I’m still on record for wishing we had a more established WR to take pressure off Romo. If Dez or Austin are out, there is not a real capable number 2 in my opinion and that only puts more pressure on the 1 WR, Witten and Romo.

    Bradie James cannot cover anyone.

    I did not think, nor still think, that Felix is an every down back. His explosiveness seems to be subdued when he hits the hole between the tackles play after play. He should definitely get the majority but he’s not Emmitt.

    Never thought Campo would stay as DB coach but I don’t see Campo here next year (I think Maxie is the real DB coach). Would like to see improvement and development from the DBs outside of just their “talent.”

    This is a better coached team with Garrett than Wade.

    Now, I’m surprised by a few things:

    I thought Butler would play more but it appears he is a big liability on runs and it’s limiting him.

    I thought Free and Kosier would play better. Kosier was abused a few times as well and to me, our best lineman is the youngest one.

    Our running game is atrocious and I wish I knew why.

    Sean Lee is even better than I thought he would be so far.

    Either Abe Elam is doing a stellar job or is just quiet but don’t hear much about him. I do know that someone shut down Vernon Davis.

    Lack of OTAs may be the reason but, man, just seems like so many are hurt.

    John Phillips is real steady.

    Bennett is a non factor in the passing game.

  3. trent says:

    cornerbacks? we don’t need no stinking cornerbacks.

    the cowboys just cut JB’s pet cat, Bryan McCann; WTFF.

    i hope this means that TerNew is perfectly healed and performing like a probowler again.

  4. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Couple of points:

    It took an injury to Romo to get him to focus – I think realizing that he couldn’t rely on improvisation as much and that he needed to find the open receiver on his initial reads led him to do so. Great to see. Also, don’t be misled by a 100.0 QB rating in the 4th qtr – it is essentially and accuracy and TD vs. INT rating; it doesn’t include fumbles or “missed” audible/kill calls when a the pass is cancelled in favor of a run that gains 3-4 yards on 3rd and 7 and results in a punt (I have no data to backup how often that actually has happened but it’s counter-intuitive to think a guy w/ 100.0 QB rating in the 4th qtr be known for a someone who lacks elite decision making and execution when it matters most). Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and there is a REASON why Romo is known to choke one or two away every so often. I’m not saying he’s horrible or is ever the sole reason for the team losing a game, but he is not on par w/ those who HAVE proven to execute down the stretch.

    I read on another site that Beuhler was told to squib the kick that he did and he was 5/6 on touchbacks. Not sure if those #s are correct but I’m sure he knows his SOLE role and that he’s on the chopping block.

  5. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Also, I completely disagree w/ putting Austin in the backfield (much like Percy Harvin). Two reasons: being a RB is a mentality, one developed over years for some. It’s not something a guy just “does” or can be trained to do in a shortend pre-season. Austin, from what I can tell, has NEVER been a RB (not college or even HS) and although he has speed and moves, doesn’t have the everything needed to be a running back. And, the play called was an off-tackle run – not a SWEEP.

    More importantly, however, is that Austin’s use at that specific time and in that specific fashion was less than stellar. We criticize Romo for not “knowing the situation” and taking unnecessary risks/chances but not JG? Austin on a 27 power on 3rd down to set up a 40+ field goal to tie the game when the kicker had missed from less yardage? We’re lucky he just hurt his leg and the fumble was recovered by us….

  6. Pingback: Assessing Football Strategy: Is Running the Football Often Necessary? | Dallas Cowboys Times

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