At 2-3 doom and gloom seems to be a contagious disease around here lately. And to some point understandable, but there is a lot of season left and there are reasons to believe this team will be there in the end. We just have to step back and see why the immediate future is brighter than it may seem.
It's been well documented that the schedule gets considerably easier from here on out. But not enough attention is put on the 5 game stretch to start the season. Which happened to be the 2nd toughest to start the season in the NFL. Posting leads in each game in the 4th quarter is a promising sign, finishing is next.
The Cowboys have played against 3 of best Qbs this year in protecting the ball. Tom Brady, Matt Stafford and yes Alex Smith. What Harbaugh has done with Smith is great he only has a league low 2 INTs. Yes Brady has an abnormaly high INT rate this year but we all know he is one of the best there is with the ball. These qbs have a combined record of 15-3.
With that said, the boys have forced a combined 6 turnovers against said QBs and team offenses. And have held each under 300 yards.
This is significant due to the remaining schedule and it has more to do with the QBs on the schedule.
- Turnover prone Vick (x2) who admitted just started TRYING to learn to read defenses, good luck. He leads the league with 11 TOs. Going into week 6 Vick was blitzd the 2nd most in the league and had thrown 7 INTs against the blitz. You better believe Rob is looking forward to this match up with the "All hype team".
- Turnover prone Eli Manning (x2). Eli is Eli he's up and down, down and up and maybe takes the most chances of the remaining qbs. Something Rob will be licking his chops at.
- The remaining QBs look like such: Grossman/ Beck, Feely, Kolb, Moore, Tavaris Jackson, Fitzpatrick, Josh Freeman. Any one scare you? Take away Fitzpatrick from Buffalo he is just another QB, they are 0-2 on the road. And Freeman is having a sub par year throwing more INTs than TDs (5 TDs-6 INTs).
ROAD DOGS49ers (via www.statesmen.com)
Road dogs Literally and Metaphorically. The boys have been road underdogs in 2 of the 3 road games. But have gotten more beastly in each road contest.
- In their first game under Rob the defense only gave up 27 points (7 on special teams) forced 2 turnovers and 4 sacks.
- The second road game saw 6 sacks on Alex Smith and an important TO that led to a TD. Shutting out the niners on 3rd down in the second half 0-6.
- The third road game was its best effort yet. Against future Hall Of Fame QB Tom Brady they sacked him 3 times, hit him over 10 times, picked him off twice and tallied a combined 4 TOs.
If your counting at home that's 13 sacks, 7 TOs and a declining point total as the season wears on 27, 24, 20. This defense is able to travel anywhere. That is sign of a very very good defense one that can go anywhere and perform well. What harder place to play your best than in Foxboro where the opposing team has scored 30 points in 13 straight games.
I believe the success will continue, particularly in the division where there is no familiarity with Robs scheme from any team.
**Romo on the Road
Tony has played good ball on the road for the majority of his career. This season he has 5 TDs to 2 INTs while posting 300+ yards in each contest.
And where road games are most difficult, division opponents, he has been solid. With home games against the Rams, Dolphins, Bills, & Seahawks its gonna take the defense and Romo to be at its best on the road against the division.
Facing the Eagles and Giants the 2 teams we haven't played yet in the division. Romo is 5-1 in the last 6 games against the Eagles 2-1 on the road. 2-2 on the road against the Giants. Which would tally to 4-3 against the two, solid.
NEEDS OF IMPROVEMENT, CAN BE IMPROVED
The glaring weaknesses right now on offense is the Red Zone execution and the running game.
I've said this before this team does not have to be a primary running team, it just has to pose the threat of a running game on certain down and situations. This will open up the Cowboys bread and butter play, the Play Action.
While the eventual return of Dockery and Holland that most likely won't add that much more push to the running game. The promotion due injury of Demarco Murray may be a blessing in disguise.
It's an unfortunate situation for Felix because the injury to his shoulder obviously was hampering his ability. The burst was not there although the toughness was. But I saw no cut back ability and his vision suffered.
Murrays skill set fits the current situation extremely better. He's shown quick feet, a burst, ability to cut back and sneaky power. With the small running lanes and scarce open holes the line gives them he has the ability to take advantage. I believe we will see more long runs as he gets more reps, and that will pose a threat to the defense.
As for the Red Zone issues I can only believe they will get better. The lack of end zone throws and plays to Dez still baffle me from Sundays game.
Garret is a smart guy he will analyze these situations and adjust. Murrays presence on the goal line brings more power along with Tanner who could also see some touches down there. It was just last season that Dallas was a very good red zone team under Garret and where Witten thrived.
There is 11 weeks left for the Cowboys and even at 2-3 you know this team has played better than you anticipated. They will Step Up.