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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins, Week 11: What We Learned About Dallas

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Jonathan Bales

Anyone else tired of the current overtime system?  Although the Cowboys came out victorious on Sunday in their overtime tilt with Washington, the sudden death overtime format should be a thing of the past.  According to Advanced NFL Stats, the team that wins the coin toss wins the game 60% of the time.  I realize people will argue that defense is just as important as offense and losing the coin toss does not necessitate a loss.

Still, the team that wins the toss must do just one thing correctly (score), as opposed to stopping the opposition and (unless the defense scores a touchdown) scoring on offense.  There is something fundamentally flawed about an instant 60-40 advantage that is based on a random event.  Here are some of my other observations from Sunday’s game. . .

  • Another example of how the running game, even when efficient, can actually be detrimental to an offense. When the ground attack is going well, it can certainly be beneficial, assuming it is utilized to set up bigger plays in the passing game. When teams stick with the run too much, even with it is effective, though, they are forced to beat a defense again and again. One slip up and a punt ensues. Meanwhile, you need just a single successful medium-range pass to move the chains. Jason Garrett called too many runs early in the game, and it almost cost Dallas.

 

  • Jason Garrett did everything in his power to lose this game for the Cowboys. On the first drive, he opted for a punt on 4th and 5 at the Redskins’ 35-yard line. I shouldn’t need to rehash the importance of attempting more plays on fourth down, especially in that “gray area” on the field where a field goal might be too long and a punt has the potential to net 15 yards (which it did for Dallas).  Statistically, Garrett should have gone for it up until 4th and 10 in that range, especially in a situation as “normal” as the first drive of the game.

  • Garrett also reverted back to the “Double Tight Strong” strong side dive. I’m not even going to go over this one again. Predictability kills.  Worse, he didn’t use the play to set up playaction looks.

 

  • Quietly, Tony Romo has played quality, mistake-free football of late. He is making really smart decisions with the football, opting to throw it away or check down when things don’t look good deep. His yardage isn’t as eye-dazzling as a result of this small shift in decision-making, but it’s worth the decrease in turnovers.

 

  • I was a little worried Felix Jones would garner too many touches now that he is healthy, but Garrett did the right thing by feeding rookie DeMarco Murray the rock 31 times. Murray said it was the most physical game in which he’s ever played, but he will be ready to go by Thursday.

 

  • Murray is undoubtedly playing at a higher level than Jones, but it is obvious the offensive line has progressed in their run blocking in the latter part of the season. Tyron Smith has been dominant all year, and Doug Free has looked better in the running game of late too. Most importantly, Garrett has begun calling far more runs behind his two stud tackles, especially counters and tosses. Murray has been sensational, but don’t discredit better play-calling in the running game and more dominant blocking.

 

  • It’s amazing how miniscule events in football games can drastically alter the public perception of the strength of a team. Had Graham Gano made either one of the two field goals he missed, Dallas all of a sudden looks a whole lot weaker at 5-5. Instead, they are 6-4 with two weak opponents on tap the next two weeks, and control of their own destiny in the NFC East.

 

  • Dez Bryant appears to be “getting it” a little bit lately. I say this primarily because his route-running has been much crisper than at the start of the year.

 

  • Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears both played really well on Sunday. We all know 3-4 defensive ends will never rack up gaudy numbers, but they ate up blockers, created some havoc in the backfield, and just made things easier for their teammates.

 

  • Not a great game from the cornerbacks. Terence Newman played too far off of the line on multiple occasions, providing too much cushion on crucial second and third down plays. Orlando Scandrick was beat off of the line in the slot a few times, although he redeemed himself with a heck of an interception in the third quarter. Alan Ball played about average for Alan Ball. . .in other words, he looked like a really solid Division II college player.

 

  • I love Dan Bailey.

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5 Responses to Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins, Week 11: What We Learned About Dallas

  1. chris stallcup says:

    Love the last bullet haha

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    About the OT rule, I have to disagree. It isn’t exactly 50/50 “fair”? So what? LIFE isn’t fair, and neither is football. Is it fair that the Cowboys had to start the season with a brutal stretch of games? Is it fair when seemingly every season Dallas finishes with a road game (4 of the last five, including this year)?

    Also disagree about the early running. You say it was detrimental, I say it helped slow down the pass rush and set up those late passes that won the game. Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.

    Several of Romo’s passes looked just as dangerous as the one’s he had intercepted early on this season. This time they worked instead. Gotta take the bad with the good, but again those runs keep the defenses honest.

    Agree with you about the punt, but I see his reasoning. Garrett must have been worried about a big momentum swing at that early point in time. I think a drive or two later he would have made a different call. Still a poor decision, IMO.

    Gano’s missed FG’s? That’s football. If’s and buts, candy and nuts. I’ll take any kind of a win on the road against a NFC East opponent no matter what the record. Very difficult to sweep in these series.

    Bailey’s kicking lights out right now. Hope he keeps it up. I’m just amazed we’re actually still winning without Buehler’s kickoffs that you love so much. I guess there IS life without carrying two freaking kickers. ;-)

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    If and buts, candy and nuts? I like that, I’ll have to remember that one…

    Small mention of the defensive secondary but I continue to mention that the entire group (all the CBs) are average at best. I haven’t checked any other sites (profootballfocus, profootballreference, etc.) but I’d guess that Newman is about the 32nd to 33rd best CB in terms of coverage. All other CBs on this team are worse – Ball made a correct read on the INT but he was clearly beat. A better throw would’ve resulted in a vastly different outcome I presume. Even given that, Rex Grossman looked fairly solid against us wrt his passing and it wasn’t because of the lack of pash rush. The CBs need to be able to cover the WRs for at least 3 secs – there were many completions where RG got the ball away in less time to WRs who had a step and a half on the CBs.

    Sensabaugh is decent but isn’t a top 10 safety. Elam seems to be fairly adept at getting everyone in the secondary in the right place but isn’t a top 10 safety.

    All that combined, coupled with sporadic injuries where even worse players are relied upon, results in a fairly poor defensive secondary. The one GOOD thing about the pass defense is the LBs dropping into coverage.

  4. Vince_Grey says:

    Ha ha… TJ, the full saying is, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas!”. I first heard that long ago when Dandy Don Meredith said it on a MNF game telecast to Howard Cosell.

    I think Newman is a solid but unspectacular CB. What I call a “red-chipper”, good, solid, but definitely not elite. Sensabaugh, OTOH, HAS been playing at a top ten/Pro Bowl level this year. (At least it’s arguable)

    I think the pass rush got worse as the game wore on, Ware was handled effectively, and the pass D overall played poorly in the second half especially on that last drive. I will say that Rex Grossman has the ability to get super-hot at times, just like he can get ice cold so that has to be taken into account.

    Part of the issue might well have been Rob’s calls. He decided to play back rather than come hard and it cost us late. Nearly cost us the game.

    Let’s cook the fins and hopefully the Saints will knock off the Giants to give us a little breathing room.

    Happy Thanksgiving Cowboy fans. :-)

  5. moses says:

    I think that the Cowboys really played down to their competition. I think that the Thanksgiving game took a lot out of them and they barely hung on against a team that is looking forward to next year’s draft.

    The only thing that a solid running game will do is chew up the clock and keep the D fresh. But, you have to keep moving the chains and have sustained drives even if you do not score points you can win the field position game giving your O a lot of good chances with a short field.

    I do not think that the Cowboy rushing game is dominant enough to do this, so it has to be a good mix of run and pass depending on what the D will give you

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