Film review: Offense, Cowboys @ Packers

Time for a film review. Let's go to the offense first, the defense in a second post later.

QB - Tony Romo seems to fall into a pattern. Early on, he's usually not as sharp, but as the game goes on he gets more in rhythm and starts to hit on his passes. The pass in the redzone for an interception has no excuse. Even though T.O. and Witten ran patterns that brought a gaggle of Packers' defenders into the same area, the real problem was Romo forced it to Witten who was clearly covered. Throw it away, Tony. He also got happy feet a couple of times and ran himself into the pass rush. He also needs to quit trying to throw passes when defenders are right on top of him, he fumbled the ball doing that this week and lost the ball for a TD doing it last week. If they're at your feet, you can try to throw the ball (Aaron Rodgers did that a couple times on us) but when they're up high and you try that, trouble usually follows.

Now, before the Romo Brigade gets their pitchforks out, these are just observations of some mistakes he made. They are SEVERELY OVERSHADOWED by the good plays he makes. He almost always makes plenty of plays that erase the mistakes and this game was no exception. Just witness the way he leaped over a fallen defender and fired a long strike to Miles Austin for a TD. That just one example. You can accuse me of nitpicking, and I am, but that's what I do in film reviews. Overall, Romo is as good as they get in today's NFL.

RB - Marion Barber was sick. He was abusing the Packers at will whether showing patience in hitting the holes, or exploding through tackles at the line or finishing off runs by punishing the defender. He also did a good job on blitz pickups. The only thing he did wrong in the game was put the ball on the turf multiple times which is very unusual for him and I don't expect it to continue. Felix Jones put on a show with one touch of the football. He broke the first defenders ankles with a stutter-step, then beat the second to the outside with his speed and turned it upfield for a TD. When we drafted him, my one question was whether he could turn the corner on NFL defenses the way he did in college. Question answered.

WR - It certainly wasn't Terrell Owens' week to shine. The Packers bracketed him over the top with a safety on almost every play, turning him into more of a decoy than anything. But it worked as Witten and Austin took full advantage. Even the running game benefited from having two defenders always concentrating on T.O. The nice thing was T.O. continued playing hard even though he didn't get the ball. He set up a nice run by MB3 with a block, raced all the way downfield after getting blocked to tackle the Packer who made the redzone interception and escorted Felix downfield on his TD run. The only mistake he made was dropping a short pass. Patrick Crayton was not a factor in the passing game at all. Basically, his only contribution was blocking for the running game. He also dropped a short pass. Miles Austin had his coming-out party at Lambeau Field. Two long catches, one for a TD and one that should have been a TD. On the first one, he stumbled just a bit after catching the ball then made the mistake of running straight upfield instead of towards the pylon, bringing him back into contact with the Packers safety. On the second catch, in a very veteran-like move, created just a hint of separation from the defender with a slight hand-push at the waist, then caught the ball, stayed in bounds and hit the endzone. Hopefully, this is a harbinger of things to come from the speedy wideout. Plus, he didn't drop the ball, a problem for him in the past. One knock was he got a block in the back penalty on a punt return that had nothing to do with Adam changing directions.

TE - Jason Witten is an amazing TE. He converted four third-down plays and caught seven passes overall. But what people outside of the Dallas fan-base miss is his ability to block. On Felix's TD run he actually blocked two guys including the key block to spring him. He had numerous seal blocks on the edge to open things up for MB3 and he can motion to the middle and block in the interior. He's the best TE in football. Tony Curtis was asked to play the FB position in the game and didn't disappoint. I didn't know that he could be such a force blocking in the interior of the line. I counted at least six blocks in the middle that blew open holes for the backs including MB3's short TD run. In addition, he caught a pass, snagged MB3's fumble out of the air and added more yards to the play and had good coverage on a punt. This was easily his best overall game as a Cowboy. Martellus Bennett may be a force in the passing game one day but that's not where he's making his money so far. I have him down for five excellent blocks in the running game, a great block on a kickoff return and a good tackle on punt coverage. He also threw in a nice run after a short catch. His only major mistake I saw was a whiff on a block that ended up being a tackle for loss. Guys, our TE's can really block!

FB - See Tony Curtis above.

OL - This wasn't their best game but it was pretty dang good, especially running the ball. It's no secret the Cowboys like to run behind the right-side of their line and they did that extremely well in this game. Marc Colombo had a good day run blocking and Leonard Davis had a very good day. In fact, Bigg pancaked a couple of guys in the game. The only time Bigg has problems is when he has to get to the second-level where he's occasionally late. But you really can't ask for more than what they give. Andre Gurode is also a beast in the run game and when he and Bigg get a double-team it's over. Kyle Kosier is one of the better pulling guards in the league. Three times when he pulled he opened the lane for the running backs. That's the one thing we'll probably miss when Cory Procter replaces him. Pass blocking was where they had some breakdowns in this game. Flozell Adams didn't have a great game. He had two pass protections that were awful and a couple of bad run blocks to boot. He can play better than he did. We also got lucky a couple of times. Check out the replay of Austin's TD, Bigg tackles Cullen Jenkins right in front of Romo, that play should have been called back. In fact, Jenkins was the one guy we couldn't handle in that game, he was everywhere. Also, on Bennett's catch, Kosier was guilty of a flagrant hold right out in the open, I have no idea how the refs missed it. Toward the end of the game Kosier's pass protection got a little soft. Gurode had a couple of plays where he struggled picking up a middle linebacker blitz and Colombo blew a block on a bootleg pass and totally missed a stunt by Jenkins on another play. So while the pass protection was hit and miss, the run blocking was outstanding.

 

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