This loss was the most devastating one for me in recent memory. Fortunately I didn't watch the Lions game and a 24 point collapse is awful in it's own way, but this loss was crippling for many reasons. We had that game won, straight up. Basically all three of our losses were games we had won and folded on. The Patriots handed us that game on a silver platter, it was there for the taking. Instead of playing to win the game, we floundered around and kept the Patriots in the ball game. You cannot take field goals in the redzone against that team, you need to put seven on the board there. You cannot commit costly and stupid penalties all game long, those mistakes killed us. You cannot turn the ball over on drives where your about to score, you just cannot do that type of stuff.
The playcalling was highly questionable at best, but I understand some of the logic Jason Garrett was going with, but then again at the same time you need to play to win the game. I understand the lack of trust in Tony Romo, heck I have a lack of trust in the man myself now. But the point is, we don't have a run game to offset Romo's mistakes. We can't afford to dial it down and run the ball, we clearly lack a good running game. It's clear to me that the offensive line is the problem, but Felix Jones obviously doesn't have great vision. DeMarco Murray really better pan out, we need a running back in the worst way possible to step up and seize the moment.
For weeks I have been saying that we need to use Jason Witten more in the redzone, and we finally did. What a shocker, Witten scores our only touchdown of the game. Garrett really needs to take a class on redzone playcalling or something. I just can't imagine what a great offensive coordinator would do with the talent we have in the redzone. The thing is, Jason Garrett is a good offensive coordinator. The problem he is facing is that this offensive line isn't all that and a bag of chips running the football. I also tend to believe Garrett lacks common sense and over thinks things. He lacks situational football playcalling, he lacks common sense. There are very intelligent and smart people in the world, but many times those brilliant people lack common sense. It's just how the world works.
Our defense is boss, I don't know how to even describe it any other way. How amazing is it that Rob Ryan, with one shortened offseason has transformed a soft Wade Phillips unit into one of the best defenses in the NFL? The scary part is this defense is operating with some average pieces at key positions. Can you imagine how good this unit could be with a free agency and draft class catered to this defense? I love Rob Ryan, this man is everything I thought he would be. The Rob Ryan doubters and haters have secretly shut their mouths and gone back under their bridges for good reason.
This week I will only be rewarding one player on the offense, nobody besides this player deserves a game ball, especially since they only scored one touchdown against one of the worst defenses in the NFL, a defense that is prone to giving up big plays through the air. Dez Bryant was a beast in the first half, in the second half he became a focal point of the Patriots game plan. Romo didn't even look his way and Garrett avoided a fade to him in the redzone, which is easily our best play down there. Miles Austin was really good himself, but faded as well. I cannot reward Romo any love this week either because he wasn't that good. Romo was solid yes, but wasn't good enough to get a game ball. Then there is the run game, very pitiful effort there. It was so disgusting that I won't even talk about it because it gives me heart pain.
Let's hand out some game balls.
The lone player on offense I will reward is rookie running back DeMarco Murray. At this point in time, I am willing to suggest and admit that Felix Jones is a bust. I have a fan post coming out later this week that will dive deeper into the topic, but really let's just call it how it is. When you pass on Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles for Felix Jones, you have a bust on your hands.
Now I like Felix Jones, he is a player that will always stay close to my heart because he is a Dallas Cowboy, but the facts are clear to me now. It's true that Felix is a fragile player who is injury prone, he may have more career injuries than he has touchdowns. He lacks the vision necessary to make plays on a consistent level in the NFL. At the time the pick looked pretty good to me even though I would have opted for the guy with blazing speed in Chris Johnson, my personal favorite Jamaal Charles and a player I followed in high school, Ray Rice. Don't be surprised if we grab a big time running back next year in free agency or the draft.
This is why DeMarco Murray really needs to pan out. He seems like a great player to me and it was clearly evident that he was the best running back on the field for either team Sunday. His stat line wasn't amazing, only 10 carries for 32 yards, but considering how bad this line blocked for him he played at a good level. What really impresses me about Murray is his burst and ability to accelerate quickly. There was one play where it looked like he was stuffed in the backfield, but somehow he managed to break to the sideline and pick up 3 yards. Murray has the burst and speed to become a reliable running back at this level.
Murray clearly has better vision than Felix Jones and that is something we should continue to look for. We need a runner that can make the cutback and hit the right holes in the line. Murray can run between the tackles and take it outside, he is pretty versatile. Believe it or not, Murray is actually the biggest running back on this team listed at 6'0 227. He has the ability to push forward for extra yards and will fight for them.
One of the best parts about his game is his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. Sorry to say this, but if Romo throws that ball better, Murray walks in for a touchdown. Instead Romo throws it low and Murray has to make a harder play on the football. Was it a pass that you can catch? Yes, but it was a poor throw that cost us a touchdown. Murray should have caught it but Romo made it harder for him than it should have been. If that's Tom Brady throwing that out pass, it's a touchdown, a easy 6 points.
Felix Jones will miss anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks and this is the time for Murray to take over this starting role. No way should Tashard Choice be given an opportunity to start over Murray. Murray for one is the better player and the future, Choice is the past. After Choice's fumble where we were driving and about to put some points on the board, I am done with him. Honestly I was done with him when he ran out of bounds against the Redskins. Choice had some great games against great defenses, but he is just another guy. He is nothing special, Murray is however something special.
The ENTIRE Defense
If this defense had a true ballhawk in the secondary, a better ILB opposite Sean Lee and a consistent pass rush opposite DeMarcus Ware, then this would be the best defense in the entire league. Words cannot describe how proud I am of this defense and Rob Ryan. I am done with moral victories, they are for losers and inferior teams, but at least we can walk away knowing we have an elite defense. It is truly amazing to me that Rob Ryan has transformed this unit in such a short time. A part of me really wishes Rob Ryan was the head coach of this team and it pains me to say that because I like Jason Garrett so much, but I have to keep it real. Somehow we must keep Ryan around because if we can add some talent to this team and work out the kinks, I see a Super Bowl destined team next year.
When you hold Tom Brady to 289 yards passing and force him to throw 2 interceptions, you have done your job. This defense has bailed us out in every single game besides the Lions game. I find myself during games talking to myself and asking the defense to step up and get us the ball back. Almost every single time they do that, it's amazing how good this defense has been. This unit is playing as one and that is something that should be really commended.
Looking at individual performances, many guys stood out. One player that really surprised me was Terence Newman. Newman had 5 tackles, 1 INT and 1 fumble recovery that almost went to the house. Little lightning bolt Danny Woodhead saved the game for the Patriots there because if Newman takes that back that game is over in my opinion. Newman was great in coverage that game, really the entire secondary was good in coverage that game.
Orlando Scandrick should really be praised as well. He was extremely physical off the line on Wes Welker and that was something most of us said was key against Welker, you have to jam him off the line. Welker was held in check all game long besides his touchdown and honestly what can you do there? Those out plays where Welker made the reception were bound to happen, the key was limiting Welker and Scandrick did a great job. Welker was held to only 45 yards that game, the best job on Welker I have seen in a long time. Scandrick continues to grow into a great cornerback, in time he could be a really good starter on the outside.
People will be hard on Mike Jenkins because he surrendered the game winning touchdown to Aaron Hernandez, but he had great coverage on that play and majority of the game. What can you do there on that touchdown that Jenkins didn't do? The head fake Hernandez threw made Jenkins bight just a tad bit there, but the coverage was tight and that was Brady being Brady. Mike Jenkins has been so much better this season and I know I sleep better at night knowing Jenkins won't be getting torched like he did last season.
The tight ends killed us, but that was something we all knew was going to be trouble. Keith Brooking still sucks, nothing new on that front. Bradie James had his signature move Sunday, the strip. He is really good at stripping the ball while he is tackling the opposing player. He deserves some kudos for that play because it almost led to a defensive touchdown that would have really put that game in our favor. Sean Lee was amazing again, you really must applaud the Cowboys front office for taking the chance on Lee. That draft pick is really panning out because Lee may be the best inside linebacker in football. His interception was just typical Sean Lee folks, the guy is becoming Lee Island.
Once again DeMarcus Ware was dominant and put on full display his immense talents for the world to see. Ware is really on pace for his beast (get it) season of his career. Believe it or not, Anthony Spencer actually played a really good football game. The roughing the passer penalty was complete BS. The roughing the punter penalty was really lame, but Spencer cannot run towards the punter and make contact. That was a stupid penalty that should never happen. Throw away those two plays and Spencer was really good. He was a big force in stopping the run and he was pressuring Brady all game long. The thing is Spencer needs to start converting those pressures into sacks, that's my only beef with Spencer right now. Other than that he is playing great football.
The last player I really want to highlight is Marcus Spears. Spears was a force all game long and Troy Aikman was really showing the big guy some love. In the first half he may have been the most dominant player in the game besides Ware. I know Spears isn't the most loved or flashiest player, but the guy is completely solid. I knew Spears was going to have a good year under Rob Ryan and this game he really stepped up to the plate.
The loss was really depressing for me. After the game I just turned off my television, went outside in the dark and smoked a couple of Newports. It wasn't really anger that overcame me, but more depression and sadness. I continue to be let down by the Dallas Cowboys every year and it is beginning to take a toll on me mentally. It's like every big game we play in I know that they are going to let me down in a big way and it ruins my week. Seriously Sunday night was easily the most depressed I have been in a long time. We get these games where we are beating Super Bowl quality teams and just fold. Everyone gets all hyped up after we beat a mediocre team we should be blowing out and then when we face great teams we play really good but still manage to lose.
Take the Rams game for instance. The Rams are a team we should pulverize into the ground and blow out, but that won't happen. We will make mistakes and keep them in the game, most likely winning a close game. I don't know about you but I am tired of these moral victories. There comes a time where enough is enough already. I don't want to read stats about how good Romo is or how good this guy or that guy is. I want goddamn results, this team is too talented to be 2-3. The season is far from over, the NFC East is wide open, but we have really hurt ourselves going 2-3 in this five games. I don't see how we don't finish 8-8 or 9-7. I am just not confident in seeing us breaking off a 8 game win streak like most of you on here.
Losing a game we should have won is starting to become a routine. This game really would have given us a huge confidence boost, just like the Jets or Lions game would have. I have never seen Tom Brady so rattled and off his game in a long time. This offense was completely pathetic in my opinion against a defense that was suspect to begin with. This season has been a total disappointment, it really has. Hopefully things can get turned around but color me skeptic on that front. We do walk away from this defeat with our heads held high, but for how much longer do these moral victories give the team confidence? The season is far from over and we have a favorable schedule coming up, but it's time to step up. The excuses need to stop, it's time to see some results.
Let's go get a goddamn snack.