What? Something changed on the offensive line this past week? Really? Who knew? I guess, like last week, I'll start with a few beers 'centered' on the offensive line.
Before we get to the beers, I'd like to thank you all for the positive comments from last week. Now, let's pop the top on some more positivity, and the first bottle, after the jump.
1. Dear Andre Gurode: Thanks for the hard work. Thanks for playing well for us for a while. If you still had functional knees, we'd still love to have you here, even at your price tag, but sadly, according to the Chargers, you're done. That game was your Buffalo Brewing (St. Louis, MO) Swan Song Rye IPA.
2. Well, since we're out with the old, we must be in with the nouveau, in this case a Tommyknocker (Idaho Springs, CO) Colorado Nouveau IPA for Phil Costa. Here's hoping you're healthy enough to drink it by 9/11.
3. Speaking of new, let us all meet Kevin Kowalski. Who? Kevin Kowalski. Who? Well, for those who don't know, he came out of Toledo, and to inspire him, I'm giving him a Great Lakes (Cleveland, OH) Lake Erie Monster Double IPA. I sure wouldn't mind if he turned into a monster to either back up or push Costa. He certainly showed some promise against the Vikings.
4. The coach of the moment is obviously Hudson Houck, and here's hoping you're the Greene King (Bury St. Edmonds, UK) Sorcerer English Bitter that we think you are. Go do your magic, man.
Overall, I must say, while I am concerned about the depth, I really like what we have brewing on the OLine. I think our line is better than it was at the end of last year right now, and unlike at that point, it is now trending up. There will indeed be some breakdowns and some mistakes, but they'll be just that, mistakes, not physical inabilities. Please note the immediate reduction of OLine penalties because these guys are actually able to get to the right place now.
5. It's time for a side note and give Jean-Jacques Tayler a Great Lakes (Toronto, ON) Pompous Ass pale ale. Gurode's release makes the team better right now, given his ability to perform right now after the knee surgery. You may not like the fact that the offensive line is inexperienced, however, that does not necessarily make it worse. This may indeed be a 6 to 8 win team, however, simple regression to the mean suggests that at a minimum we're looking at is the top of your range. Furthermore, given the difference in the play by the Cowboys under Garrett as opposed to Phillips, Romo's return, and yes, the changes on the offensive line, provide even more evidence this could be even better. Yeah, there are reasons for optimism here, so just "deal with it."
6. Like I said, I thought the OLine did well against the Vikings. The Vikings may not have the line that devastated us in 2009, but any line with Jared Allen is going to have some punch. Nevertheless, Tony Romo had plenty of time to be brilliant. If the line holds up, and if he keeps playing like he did Saturday, then I see him earning the accolade of an Odell (Fort Collins, CO) Captain O'Merica APA.
7. Welcome to Dallas, DeMarco Murray. It was good to see you out there. Here's a Coach's (Norman, OK) Sooner Stout to help you make a smooth transition, because we need you to be ready to go 'sooner' rather than later.
8. For Jesse Holley, a Sierra Nevada (Chico, CO) Celebration IPA. That beer has holly on the label, and after 3 nice catches for 51 yards to go with your special teams work, you can celebrate this team having Holley on the roster.
9. You know the best part of the Gerald Sensabaugh's interception? The pick was nice, and it stopped a drive, but who was it that was playing the short zone and tipped the ball? Oh, hey, that was Jason Hatcher, dropping off into a zone blitz. Didn't happen in Phillips' defense, and was a joy to see. Here's a beer from your home, Jason, because I think you'll have a great year and be an Abita Turbodog Brown Ale driving this defense.
10. Speaking of Sensabaugh, you get a HopCat (Grand Rapids, MO) Belgian Hoppopotamus Belgian IPA for your prodigious leap to block the FG. Make it a growler for the dive on the INT. You're not the second coming of Darren Woodson, but the metrics suggested you weren't the worst guy ever out there last year, despite the angst of Cowboy fans and you deserve some love.
11. Speaking of no love, let's turn to Anthony Spencer. An elite pass-rusher gets 10 sacks a year. A defense faces something like 900-1000 plays a year, meaning that an elite pass-rusher gets a sack on something like 1-1.5% of his defense's plays. An elite sacking team gets 60 or so sacks in a year, meaning they record a sack on something like 6-8% of a defense's plays. Why do I toss this out? Merely to point out that the vast majority of a defense's work are on plays that don't involve a sack, and yet we only judge Anthony Spencer on his sack total. It's only after he gets a sack, like the sack on Donovan McNabb, that he gets any love. This is especially unfair given the fact that his role is to look run first, and the metrics show that he's one of the best run LBs out there. This is not to say I don't want him to get more sacks, but not if it means he plays worse on the other 90+% percent of plays. Here's a Black Sheep (Ripon, UK) Monty Python's Holy Grail Black Knight's Reserve Brown Ale for telling RB after RB that "none shall pass."
There's no doubt this is a team in transition. What a shock, a team coming off of a 6-10 record with a new coach in transition. Already we see some positive changes. The offensive line is one. The defense is another. Yes, I said the defense. Yeah, they gave up a bunch of yards to Minnesota, but that's how this defense works. It bends until it causes a big play. Yeah, sometimes, this is a big play for the offense, but the goal is to create more for the defense.
Note that in the time the Vikings' first team offense played, a drive past halftime, they had 1 play of more than 20 yards, the TD to Berrian. Note also that they only allowed 10 points. Note that the league average for 20+ yard plays allowed is around 3 per game and that teams average allowing 21 points per game. Finally, note that they had two defensive big plays to stop drives, the sack by Spencer and the INT by Sensabaugh. In other words, in the first half against the Vikings they played like a defense that is no worse than league average in all but yards allowed.
12. So, let's just all sit back and chill as we watch Rob Ryan put his County Durham (Pickering, ON) Signature Pale Ale on this team. Yards allowed and gained, in and of themselves, are irrelevant, as the Chargers proved last year and his defense this year looks like it will be somewhere around average in big plays allowed, big plays created, and most importantly, points allowed.
Yeah, I'd say that's a positive change after 2010.
Speaking of positives, I'm positive I'm going to go hit some friends with sticks tonight and then have myself a couple Boulevard (Kansas City, MO) Single-Wide IPAs afterwards.