Well folks, Sunday's game just about sucked. Boy am I glad I was unable to watch the game live. However, I did have updates of the game on my phone through out the morning; additionally, my friend Mike, who get this, covers the 49ers and is a die hard Eagles fan kept updating me his enthusiasm for what transpired at Jerry World. I had to hear it from every non-Cowboys fan I ran into on Sunday, making jokes about Roy Williams' comments regarding Kitna being just as good as Romo since they both have a propensity for turning the ball over. Hilarious, I say.
Despite the fact I had to watch the game late Sunday night after already knowing what happened, I sucked it up and watched that game in it's entirety. After the jump, I'll tell you my random thoughts regarding this game.
The first drive of the game showed promise (as did most of the drives in the first half). We moved the ball with relative ease right into Jacksonville territory. However, once we got there, the Cowboys began to play like the "Little Yellow School Bus" team that they've demonstrated themselves to be this season. Here, right after the Cowboys tack on 15 yards to a 1st Down they already picked up off a 3rd an 8 via a slant from Kitna to Austin, on first down, Felix checks into the game, we run the draw for -1 yard. Next play Kitna play fakes to his right and throws a bad pass to Bennett for an incompletion. On 3rd and 11, Kitna hits Witten for 8 yards and subsequently on 4th and 3, Wade elects to kick the field goal, Cowboys go up 3-0. This, is where the game was ultimately lost.
It felt as though Wade and Garrett had their sights set on attempting the field goal once Kitna's pass on 2nd and 11 went incomplete. That play call on third down and the automatic decision to kick the field goal shows a lack of confidence by Wade Phillips. In Week 3 against the Texans, Wade would've gone for it on 4th Down, which he did. Ultimately that first drive at Houston stalled, but the message he sent to the team that day gave them the confidence they needed to take the fight to the Texans. That would be the last time the defense kept the team in the game and allowed the offense to figure its way through the game. Ultimately, that win will most likely prove to be the last hurrah for the Cowboys in 2010.
In Week 8 Wade and the Cowboys were caught with their tales between their legs. Wade played it safe, kicked the field goal, and the wheels were set for a very long day. Maybe it's because the team is in the midst of a 3 game losing streak, maybe it's because Romo's pretty much gone for the season, or maybe it's both these things.
Say what you want, about the four picks thrown by Kitna, but his first 3 picks are squarely on the shoulders of Felix Jones, Miles Austin, and Roy Williams. The balls went right off the hands of those three and into the opportunistic arms of the Jaguars defenders. Although Roy's catch was a bit more difficult, all three of these deflected picks had the same trait; the receivers took their eyes off the ball for a split second. Phil Simms, during the broadcast, explained that most passes which bounce of the hands of the receiver are the result of the receiver taking their eyes off the ball. The replays on these picks, but more so the first two, showed the receivers taking their eyes off the ball instead of looking it in to their grasp.
On this note, as we know, the majority of Romo's picks this season have come via the defelction off the receiver's hands. Therefore, what looked to be merely bad luck seems to be, in actuality, a lack of focus, or attention to detail by players such as Witten, Austin, Felix, and Roy Williams (only a matter of time till you finally show up). There's a saying in football, that if the ball hits the hands of a receiver, it's his responsibility to make the catch.
Following today's 35-17 loss, the Cowboys have now allowed 137 points in 4 home games (34.3ppg). Well done guys. The next time I hear ESPN, NFL Network, FOX, or CBS talk up the defense and how it's an elite group, I am going to vomit.
On every scoring drive for the Jaguars, Phil Simms kept hammering the following information down our throats.
1) In his meetings with the Jaguars coaching staff, they told him that in studying the Cowboys, Dallas' defense is very predictable because they don't disguise their looks at the line of scrimmage. You get a lot of man coverage in the secondary, and the Jaguars also knew exactly when we would be blitzing them.
2) The way to beat the Jaguars passing game is to rush 3 or 4 guys and make Garrard hesitant in his decision making. Unfortunately, the Cowboys refused to do this. Garrard would go on to have a career day against this piss poor defense. His final line was 17 for 21, 260 yards, 5 TDs (4 Passing), and QB Rating of 157.8. Mike Sims-Walker was the benefactor of Garrard's masterful performance. He caught 8 of 10 passes thrown to him for 153 and a score. Phil Simms made it point to mention that on the few plays where the Cowboys only brought 3 or 4 guys at Garrard, the Cowboys actually sacked him a couple times, forced a few incomplete passes, and on one occassion got strip sack from Victor Butler which resulted in Jay Ratliff earning a fumble recovery.
3) Maurice Jones-Drew broke out of his season long funk and put up 27 carries for 135 yards at 5.0 yards per carry. Lets just say most of those runs were right up the gut of the defense. The Jaguars came prepaired to fight and the Cowboys took them lightly. Phil Simms went so far as to say that a team playing with a lack of confidence will stop being physical early on in a game when things don't immediately go there way. Well, Phil, by that logic, I think it's safe to assume the defense mentally checked out of this game after they gave up the second touch down.
I'll give you one play which illustrates why this defense cannot force turnovers unless the ball is either fumbled right to them or thrown right at them.
On the Jaguars second possession of the game, they were faced with a 2nd and 6 in Cowboys territory. Garrard calls a playaction pass to Greg Jones for a two yard gain. Bradie James had good position on the play and actually stood up Jones after making the catch, with the hopes of trying to pry the ball loose. However, his efforts went wasted. Sensebaugh came flying into the action immediately looking to deliver the kill shot instead of assisting James in trying to strip the ball loose. Sensebaugh ultimately bounced off of both James and the ball carrier. The replay also showed Marcus Spears half heartedly jogging into the sequence and assisting James to bring Greg Jones to the ground. Allen Ball and Keith Brooking also appeared near the play but just stood around. Now, if this were the Redskins, Bears, Steelers, Ravens, or Jets defenses, you'd see multiple defenders assisting their teammate in standing the offensive player up and playing through the whistle doing everything they can to get that ball out. Not our guys.
Lastly, here's one play that just about sums up the entire season in a nutshell: Late in the game Kitna threw a pass intended for Jason Witten. However, Witten had no clue the ball was coming his way. As a result, the ball hit the star on the right side of his helmet dead center. I cried so hard when I saw that play that I actually began to laugh.
And there you have it. This game truley was a downer. I wish I could say it gets better after this, but looking at the schedule, I can't, at this point even beating the Lions will require some kind of miracle.