2-2. A .500 record. Not the worst thing in the world. However, I cannot find much I like about the Cowboys right now and it all starts at the top. The coaching is just not very good in preparation and even worse with in-game adjustments. There are many changes that need to be made to this team and even though I was angry about having a Week 5 bye, I do not believe that it could come at a better time for this team
Changes that need to be made:
First and foremost, Mackenzy Bernadeau needs to be benched. From Marvin Austin abusing him in the beginning of Week One to Henry Melton beating him to force the fumble/interception (not really sure what it is) Lance Briggs touchdown, he has been awful. Bringing back Montrae Holland could be an answer, even though I do not love Lumpy, he was a boon for the run game last year. Maybe move Cook or Costa over when Costa is healthy. I do not know what the answer is but I do know it is not Bernadeau. Doug Free has not been much better next to him, but I have a feeling that Free would be better if Bernadeau was not a complete sieve next to him. Also Free did look better this game and since it was against Julius Peppers, I have somewhat renewed faith in him.
Second, a new safety needs to be found. Barry Church was playing extremely well and his injury is a big loss for this team. Danny McCray just is not a starting caliber safety in the NFL. It showed tonight with him consistently trailing in coverage and just not looking comfortable out there at times. Re-signing Brodney Pool could be an option but I do not think that he is that right answer as he did not look good in the preseason. The safety could be on the team. Hopefully, Matt Johnson can get healthy and show something but who knows how good he will be at this point. The other option is moving either Carr or Jenkins to safety and personally, I think moving Jenkins there over the bye week is the best option.
Third, Rob Ryan and Jason Garrett need to make better game plans, but more importantly better in-game adjustments. The Bears did a great job of moving Brandon Marshall around the formation and putting him in the slot. When he was in the slot, he was matched up with Gerald Sensabaugh, Danny McCray or a linebacker at times. This was a great move by Mike Tice to get Marshall open; however, the Cowboys did nothing to counter this.
Jason Garrett needs to get Demarco Murray involved more and get a functioning running game. Running some more screen plays to him would work since the line is not opening up holes in the running game. Murray is getting the ball as a check-down receiver in the passing game, but some designed screens could go a long way. One question, I have about this game was the absence of Miles Austin early on. Ogletree was playing in two-wide sets while Miles was on the bench.
Fourth, Felix Jones need to be taken off of kickoff returns. I do not know what player is the answer, but I would rather have Dwayne Harris back there and just kneel it every time, then have to watch Felix take it from 7 yards deep in the End Zone and get tackled at the 15 again.
Here are my other observations of note.
First, while I have not been to the new Cowboys Stadium, I can confirm from watching on TV that we have possibly the worst home field advantage in all of football. Being a Cowboys fan from New York, I have only attended one Cowboys game in Dallas at Texas Stadium. This game was in 2006, Week Eleven against the undefeated Colts and Peyton Manning. While the Cowboys were no all-star team that year, it was one of my favorite games to watch. The Boys physically manhandled the Colts with Marion Barber pounding the football the whole second half to a 21-14 victory. After the game, my father and I could not get out of the parking lot for over an hour and I remember the crowd being so supportive of the Cowboys. Watching last night's game and seeing a sea of Bears jerseys and hearing Let's Go Bears cheers was awful. It is apparent why we have no home-field advantage because Jerry World is an amusement park and not a stadium.
Second, Brian Moorman was phenomenal and I would have no problem keeping him over Chris Jones. While I like what Jones has done so far, Moorman pinning the Bears twice within there 10 yard line on beautiful punts was a great sight and something this team needs to help even out the field position game as we barely start drives outside of our own 20 (looking at you again Felix).
Third, I was never a huge fan of Anthony Spencer. I respected what he did in the run game over the last few years, but always thought that Victor Butler could replace him. Hell was I wrong. Spencer has been amazing this year and even though the sacks have not been there (as always), he has been getting great pressure and playing the run well. I really hope that the Cowboys can bring him back, but I would not be surprised if he left for greener pastures. If that happens, I hope Kyle Wilber can play because Victor Butler is not a starting OLB in the NFL.
Fourth, the one thing that I was happy with last night was the absence of penalties on the Offensive Line. I cannot remember any penalties besides the Dez Bryant one and this was a step in the right direction. Maybe with the bye week, Callahan can add to the teaching of not getting penalties and teach them to run-block.
Finally, I wanted to include this in my changes section, but I do not think it is a change that can easily be made. Someone needs to hit Dez Bryant in the head and get him to focus. It pains me to see someone who is so physically talented and visibly motivated make so many dumb mental errors. Forgetting, the Tillman Pick Six, where I have no clue whether it was his fault, Romo's fault, or a mix; there were a bunch of plays where he just was not mentally there. The 3rd Down back shoulder fade that he didn't catch that would have extended the drive. The 3rd Down slant play that he missed that would have extended the drive. The streak down the right side where the ball went through his hands. C'Mon Man. But worst of all was that dumb illegal motion penalty. In the hurry-up offense, get set so that if Tony send you in motion you have already established position. DO NOT nonchalantly hang out.
This team loves to toy with our emotions. I tried not to drink too much Kool-Aid going into the season, but after Week One and witnessing that win live at MetLife Stadium, I was all-in. We looked too good in that game for me to expect games like this to happen. But here, I am after Week Four with my expectations tempered staring down another 8-8 season. Hopefully, the bye week straightens this team out and we can come out firing because our schedule over the next few weeks is rough.
Let's Go Boys.