The Way of the Game
I had to give this one a little time to process before posting, as I wanted to avoid any knee jerk reactions. Losses where you beat yourselves are always tough, but as losses go, this is one we can at least walk away from without hanging our heads.
Speaking of beat... (ok I will let that one go), and because we all need a reminder every now and then of a few of the reasons its great to be a cowboy's fan; from the 2012 cowboys cheerleaders swimsuit shoot, Sunni Cranfill tells us "Relax. We have a long way to go before this is over.":
Below the jump are some thoughts of the game.
Tony Romo. As has been surmised elsewhere, he played a brilliant 3 or so quarters, and then self destructed down the stretch. I will be honest though, as bad as those mistakes were, I would like for them to happen now, as opposed to at the end of the year, where there is still time to correct and coach up mistakes. Don't be surprised if later in the year this very game lingers on the edge of Romo's consciousness, and leads to a couple of balls smartly being tossed out of bounds as opposed to some of the bone headed things that happened against the Jets. Veteran or not, every year begins anew, and sometimes we all need little stinging reminders to tell us that we can't be superman on every play.
Dez Bryant is a beast and had a great game against some talented corners. He even went to Revis island and had a few mai tias. However, playmakers show up big when the game is on the line. He was gassed in the 4th, and quad injury or not, I attribute this more to the lockout and lack of offseason conditioning then any actual problem with Dez. We have to remember that this is his first game in FOREVER (dec 10th, 2010 I believe), and as the season goes on I expect him to show up more late, and learn to manage his juice a little better. Once again, even though you look the part, you can't be superman on every play. Save some for the 4th next time.
On another note regarding Dez, you have no idea how ecstatic I am that I don't have to watch RW drop more balls than a pubescent middle school football team, every game. Thank you for ending that nightmare.
Mike Jenkins, that is what I wanted to see last night. Well done. You put your all on the line and battled through pain like a true warrior when we needed you most. Keep that up and memories of nights like that will soon replace the aberration that was the 2010 season in all of our minds.
Phil Costa played ok, and I believe we are much better off with him at the helm than Gurode, but he had some bad plays out there. He can't keep getting blown off the LOS and letting the pocket collapse. In the running game, he needs to be more aware to the flow of the play, as at times he was over aggressive getting to his man in the second level before the play developed. Perhaps even more importantly, he and Romo needs to get on the same page regarding snaps, especially since that mishap basically cost us any chance at a last gasp field goal. All that being said, I still think we have an upgrade and a decent center, albeit with some room to grow.
Whoever keeps saying that 7th round picks are "throw away picks", needs to take a look at Bill Nagy. He is not perfect, far from it, but his play far exceeds his draft status. As much as people want to bash our scouts, they keep pulling gems out of the trash. They miss some too, but overall after we "true up", we are definitely left with a net gain.
This offensive line finally fits our identity on offense. They won't be imposing their will on people, but they will be able to perform their assignments and function effectively as a whole. And they won't become safety cones in the 4th quarter.
Alan Ball almost went from goat to hero with the "almost pick". That was a hell of a jump on that route. If this secondary is going to make the jump from bad to mediocre, we need to see more of that from all of our cover guys all game long. Here's hoping T-new and Scandrick get better soon, but injuries are not an excuse for poor play. When someone goes down, you have to be ready to step up. Just ask the Packers.
Anthony Spencer is a good fit for this scheme, and I expect he will get even better as the defense gels together. He is not Ware, and does not have the athleticism of Victor Butler, but I suspect that his presence this season is going to allow Ware to go for DPOTY, if not MVP. Spencer won't blow away the stat line, but he is an important cog in this scheme. For those wishing more snaps for Butler, be careful what you wish for. He can be great for us in a specialists role, but he does not have the same skill set as Spencer. I would be highly concerned if he were to be relied upon as an every down player.
Speaking of defensive scheme, I find this one to be as exciting as advertised. All the organized chaos was fun to watch, especially with the opposing offensive line freaking out on more than one occasion. It was nice to see our line getting penetration and pressure without having to rush 8 people. My biggest concern, aside from the swiss cheese secondary, is the lack of push in the middle. I have a feeling that this is going to be an area for our opponents to exploit this year, especially with some designed cutbacks and draws. I will be watching this closely the next few games, as this may be a result of great center play by the Jet's, but something in my gut just tells me this is going to be a problem.
Joe D, you are on notice. We cannot afford to have horrible teams play, season after season. You got a pass the first couple of seasons as we all understood that you were taking over a reclamation project, but that is no longer an excuse. Your unit should be keeping us in games, if not making plays to help win them, not helping give them away. I am getting tired of holding my breath every time one of your units takes the field that something horrible is going to happen.
Kyle Kosier, maybe your rusty, but your the vet, not a rook. Start playing like it, or we may be starting 4 new starters on this line, this year.
Ware is awesomeness in a bottle.
Jason Witten was Jason Witten as usual, but c'mon man! Steamroll the next 150 lb guy that gets in your way. You don't get as many red zone chances as you probably should, and you let yourself get robbed of a score on this one. That's as bad as getting tackled by the kicker (not named Buehler).
Way of the Game Ball goes to...
Danny McCray. Excellent job. You were the loan bright spot on special teams, and you made your presence felt in the game with a sac fumble to boot. When we were hurting the most in our secondary, you stepped in and made a tremendous play. Keep it up, we are going to need some more of that as the season goes on.
Honorable mention: Sean Lee. His play was All Pro, but has received his share of praise and I wanted to acknowledge what McCray did in his limited snaps.
Goat of the game goes to...
Jason Garrett. Everything that happens to this team is ultimately your responsibility, and last night was no exception. Penalties have to stop. The snap count needs to be worked on. Special teams need a kick in the (insert random euphemism for donkey). Defense needs ample depth, and the offense needs to execute, no matter the play call, and the head coach has to demand discipline, especially late in games. Let's get back to focusing on the little things, like closing out games in the 4th quarter. You may strive to be great everyday, but all I ask is that you be great on Sundays.