Alright, alright, alriiiii-iiiiggghhtt! (In my best Kevin Hart voice).
Not much beats a three piece chicken and biscuit meal from Popeyes, when it comes to fast food. Throw in a side of cajun fries or mashed potatoes with gravy and you sir, have yourself a meal that tastes almost as good as it is bad for your health. American cuisine!
That's how I feel watching our Cowboys sometimes... I love the meals, the individual games... but rooting for this team week in and week out can't be good for my health. The constant struggle to overcome themselves (ourselves, really... because we as fans take it all to heart) is maddening and definitely is not a friend of low blood pressure. It might even be more nerve-racking as fans because we aren't exerting the physical energy to release that stress and also have absolutely no outcome on a result that matters so much to us.
In honor of this, I will stray from my six-piece nugget comparison to frame my random thoughts and dub this entry, "Three Piece And A Biscuit." I'll go a little more in-depth into the randomness, since a three-piece is much more filling than that Big Kids Meal is.
(1) No one should be underestimating the power of a "stress relief" win. For the first time all season, Dallas has an authoritative victory on its ledger. Now, don't get me wrong, the win against the Giants in Week One was huge, but there is a dynamic difference in a team's mentality to start a season and when it has endured the type of season the Cowboys had up until this point.
As I pointed out in my wrap up article, the Cowboys were playing a struggling Eagles club, yet, it was still Philly. While Dallas has now won nine of the past 16 games against the Eagles, they dominated Dallas last year in both games, winning three of four with the lone Cowboys victory a meaningless 2010 season ending battle of the backups. More importantly, Philly put each and every real and perceived deficiency of these Jason Garrett Cowboys on display last year.
So for the team to come out and earn a comfortable victory in which a running back, wide receiver, punt returner, cornerback and defensive linemen all reached the end zone in the same game? That can be a watershed moment. I think we outsiders can underestimate the rhythm of the NFL. Working all week towards a game on Sunday is a stark contrast to working all week at a standard 9-5. When things don't go well on Sunday, it is a gigantic letdown to all the work that had been put in that week. Make no mistake about it, the wins against Tampa and Carolina were nice, but far from decisive victories where the team lived up to expectations.
In other words, it has been two months of preparing week in and week out and being dissatisfied with the final result. Until this past Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this lifted the spirits of the team and put them on a great role. Of course, if they lose to Cleveland on Sunday I'll come back and eliminate this Chicken Breast from the history books.
(2) Dallas undoubtedly benefited from using the run to set up the pass on Sunday.
There is an ongoing debate on whether or not the run still sets up the pass in today's NFL or whether its use only signifies a team sealing a victory. In my estimation, the death of the run game in the NFL, and it's effectiveness for the Cowboys, has been grossly exaggerated.
On the opening drive, Dallas ran on 8 of the first 12 plays, for 50 yards. On the 13th play, they ran a HB swing for an 11-yard touchdown. On the opening play of their field goal drive, Dallas came out with 21-personnel; a run-favorable look. The Eagles put their FS on Witten with a single-deep safety in the middle of the field. There is little question (to me) that the early run success along with a run formation played a part in Dez getting single-coverage and a double-move that got him wide open for the sideline bomb.
The Cowboys pass rate was 61.7 % through the first three quarters (they ran to milk clock on every 4th quarter down) but there is no question to me that the run setting up the pass, or balance, was at play here. Chicken Leg.
(3) I've been known to be a conspiracy theorist before, but bear with me on this one. A couple weeks ago, DallasCowboys.com resident scout Bryan Broaddus let loose that rookie TE James Hanna has been extra impressive in practice. However, we have yet to see this translate to any sort of on field activity. Are Hanna's exploits being over-exaggerated? If he can really help this team, why isn't he being used in a struggling offense? Here's my thought.
James Hanna is being held back for the stretch run, to give opposing D-Coordinators something new to think about. Where he will be unveiled like John Phillips was a few years back. I'm not saying that Hanna will become a featured part of the offense or anything to that extreme. However, I do think that there are probably a set of plays that he can do well at this point, that head coach Jason Garrett is waiting to reveal.
Fandom is an impatient exercise, coaching isn't. The Long Con preaches the axiom of saving your best for last. The last time Dallas made the playoffs, 2009, the Cowboys had their best offensive output of the season in the wild card game against Philly. Except for Week 1 when they also scored 34 points on offense; the two highest scoring games included Patrick Crayton punt returns (cue Dwayne Harris) for scores.
Call it blind faith, call it homerism, call it stupidity. I just think (hope?) that Jason Garrett believes in the long con (and we can argue about the merits of a head coach that does incorporate this while his offense struggles to score points) and has a handful of formations and playcalls that he refuses to unveil until the team has to have them. Didn't we see that in the first Giants game last year when Dez Bryant (scoring) and Miles Austin (mistimed pass) were put in wide open positions when necessary?
I also don't believe that I've seen the Cowboys run a multiple-time successful red zone play from the prior two seasons, where out of a three-receiver+TE set, Dallas runs a WR and slot guy to the front and back pylons on each side. It worked for at least four touchdowns in recent years. These are the things I'm thinking Dallas is storing; thinking they can get by without them for the time being. James Hanna is in those 2012 plans. Chicken Wing. With Mumbo Sauce (DC thing).
(4) The Biscuit.
- The Cowboys will most likely be looking at getting both DeMarco Murray and Phil Costa back by the Philadelphia rematch; good things come to those who wait?
- I did some investigative reporting over the last two days; Tony Romo did in fact graduate from Hogwarts.
- 16 games is a ridiculously small sample size to judge any player on, and that's an entire NFL season. We know this, but still make sweeping judgements of players for portions of a season; why?
- The Cowboys moved from 13th place to tied for 9th in the NFC behind just one victory. A win on Sunday officially kicks off the "playoff scenario" watch.
- Danny Coale was carted off the field after suffering a leg injury on a kickoff drill in Thursday's practice. Tough break for the kid, who if you remember, was Tom Ryle's pet cat. In Jamaican lexicon, there's a saying when you inadvertently or purposely place bad luck on someone. Tom Ryle... you've put the goat mouth on him.
- The pecking order for claiming Ben Bass as a pet cat goes O.C.C., Rabble, then the rest of us. I'm claiming the third spot and just wanted to clear this up for when he breaks out.