Jason Hatcher is working on those pesky hard counts. - Elsa
The Dallas Cowboys have a lot going on as they try to string two wins together and keep some momentum going. Let's catch up on what is happening with the team as the get ready for the Cleveland Browns.
The Dallas Cowboys had a very enjoyable win over the Philadelphia Eagles. It is nice to be able to drop the angst for a few days and deal with some other topics than whether the season is over and if there are any hot seats at Valley Ranch.
The "nail in the coffin" play at the end of the Eagles game was the strip sack for a touchdown. Initially, Anthony Spencer got credit for the sack that led to Jason Hatcher's recovery for a touchdown, but most observers noted that sack master DeMarcus Ware got there at the same time as Spencer, and the high/low hit the two combined on would have separated the ball from almost any quarterback. Elias Sports Bureau, the authority on sports stats, agreed, and has officially given Ware and Spencer a half sack each, keeping DWare's streak of games with at least partial credit for a sack alive at seven. But he really is only concerned with one stat.
"The streak is alive, but the thing is we've got to keep the streak of winning games," Ware said.
One thing that would really help with winning: Cutting down on the penalties. Hatcher was one of the offenders in the Eagles game, and he said that the 800 hard counts Jason Garrett talked about using in practice have started this week. He does take responsibility for the times he jumped, admitting that he got a bit too excited trying to make plays.
"It was just one of those things. When you play the Philadelphia Eagles, you just be all riled up. You just try to go out there and make a big play, kind of spark the team. That was my thinking. I was trying to jump the snap count. Didn't work out."
The penalty situation is one the Cowboys are struggling with, although it has not cost them as many games as you would think (they have won three of the four games they got 13 penalties in, one of the more peculiar stats this year). There seems to be no lack of effort to fix the problem. I think Hatcher may have a point in talking about the players getting a bit too eager. While it shows a disturbing lack of focus, it does also show a high level of effort. They need to eliminate the first while maintaining the second.
Hatcher was not the only player who had some problems with mental mistakes (which he did atone for to some extent with the touchdown). Rookie Morris Claiborne had his worst showing of the season, getting flagged an embarrassing five times as well as being burned on a touchdown. But he is demonstrating the selective amnesia that is needed to play the secondary in the NFL, coming out this week with a positive attitude and even showing a determination to turn the bad performance into an opportunity.
"The next week I know guys are going to come out (and say), ‘Just throw it up there. Either we're going to catch it or get a penalty,'" Claiborne said. "That's why I've got to play smart and go out and attack the football."
With the sudden burst of defensive scoring in the Eagles game, this just might work. It is not surprising that Claiborne had a bad game as a rookie. It is fortunate that it came in a game where it did not hurt the team. Now he has a chance to come back and show he is worth the trade the Cowboys made to get him.
Coming into this season, one of the big stories going around and around and around was the idea of whether the "window" was closing for the core players on the Cowboys, like Ware, Tony Romo and Jason Witten. All are into their thirties, and the concern was about their skills dropping off before a winning team can be built around them. Ware, now tied for third in sacks, and Romo, with his phenomenal escape and pass in the Eagles game, have shown they still have the skills to compete. Witten, of course, gave us all a scare with his infamous spleen, and many were worried about how it would impact his season. Well, I think you can put that concern to rest, as he has once again proved he is one of the elite players in the NFL, ranked third in the league for receptions with 66.
"You want to respond the right way by making plays and getting first downs," Witten said. "I've taken a lot of pride in bouncing back. Obviously the Giants game, and really the last few weeks, there's been (opportunities) over the middle and a connection with Tony (Romo). Need more of it moving forward."
One of the class acts all-time in Cowboys lore.
With the recent promotion of Ben Bass to the 53 man roster because of Kenyon Coleman's season ending injury, as detailed by OCC, there is also an opportunity for another rookie on the defensive line, Tyrone Crawford. He has seen action in every game this season, which is kind of unusual for a rookie not named Claiborne this year, but he is not satisfied with just showing up.
Crawford played 17 defensive snaps against Philadelphia and 19 the previous week against Atlanta, his busiest two-week stretch of the season. He produced five tackles and one quarterback pressure, knocking down Nick Foles.
That was a good feeling, he said.
"It would have felt better if he had the ball in his hands," Crawford said.
And there is news on another subject that was of great concern during the summer, the assault charge against Dez Bryant.
A domestic violence charge against Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has been moved to conditional dismissal, according to Bryant's attorney and Texas state senator Royce West.
In a series of Tweets, Clarence Hill provided some more detailed information.
per sources, charges will be dropped against Dez Bryant if completes a 1-yr anger management course, stay out trouble, keeps security team
According to the NFL office, Dez Bryant's case "will be reviewed under the Personal Conduct policy" by commissioner Roger Goodell
So just cause Bryant has seemingly escaped discipline from the DA, he could face discipline from the NFL. The operative word is could.
This sounds like a decent resolution for a complicated and tragic solution. Hopefully, the league office will take into consideration the fact that the charges could be dropped entirely if Bryant meets the terms set forth and forgo any suspension. But, then, we haven't had John Mara tell Goodell how many draft picks to take away yet.