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