FanPost

Atlanta shows what true talent looks like

There used to be a time when other teams would use the Cowboys as the measuring stick against which to measure themselves. Thanks to lousy leadership by the General Manager and by extension, the Owner, Dallas now measures themselves against other teams.

The Falcons have an extraordinary array of offensive playmakers. Atlanta has used first round picks on their quarterback (Matt Ryan) and both starting wide receivers (Roddy White and Julio Jones). The Falcons adroitly made moves to acquire future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and sign running back Michael Turner.

Here is how the Atlanta Falcons performed against the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Player (Atlanta)

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Rushes

Yards

TD's

Rating

Roddy White

7

10

118

0

0

0

109.58

Julio Jones

5

6

129

0

0

0

118.75

Tony Gonzalez

4

5

36

0

0

0

96.67

Michael Turner

0

1

0

20

102

1

--

Matt Ryan

24

34

342

0

0

0

102.8

Now compare the performances of the Atlanta Falcons to that of their respective counterparts on the Dallas Cowboys.

Player (Atlanta)

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Rushes

Yards

TD's

Rating

Miles Austin

7

9

76

0

0

0

101.85

Dez Bryant

1

4

15

0

0

0

42.71

Jason Witten

7

8

51

0

0

0

93.23

Felix Jones

5

5

70

9

39

0

--

Tony Romo

25

35

321

0

0

1

109.3

Which team has the better wide receivers?

Which team has the better tight end?

Which team has the better running back?

Which team has the better quarterback?

The answer to the first question is easy: Atlanta's wide receivers are much better than the Cowboys wide receivers. From a rating standpoint, Austin wasn't even the best receiver on the team on Sunday night, as Ogletree posted a 156.25. Of course, Kevin is as inconsistent as a politician trying to get elected.

But here is the biggest difference between the Cowboys receivers and those in Atlanta:

2nd quarter

3rd and 7 at ATL 36

(Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short left to K.Ogletree.

3rd quarter

3rd and 13 at DAL 41

(Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to M.Austin.

On those two throws, Romo hit his receivers in the hands with an easy first down in the bag. Both times the receivers dropped the ball. Those two first downs ended up in a missed field goal and a punt that led to Atlanta's only touchdown drive.

Although Gonzalez had a better rating, I would call the duel between Witten and Gonzalez a draw. Both converted important first downs and played well.

There was no doubt which running back could make people miss, break tackles, and make plays. Once again that player was not wearing a star on his helmet.

Which team had the better quarterback? I would either call it a draw or give a slight edge to Romo since it is obvious his receivers and running back were vastly inferior to those Ryan has on his team.

So why do Dallas fans consider this a talented team?

The Cowboys have some talent, but it pales in comparison to the talented players on the Falcons team. Looking at the defensive players, it seems that Dallas has a few play makers. DeMarcus Ware and Bruce Carter were the best defenders on the field, much in the same way that Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Michael Turner were the best offensive players on the field. Anthony Spencer played another good game.

The loss of Sean Lee was felt in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys would have had the three best defensive players on the field to help stop the Falcons and give the offense a realistic chance to win. Whether Barry Church would have made more plays than Danny McCray can be debated, but it is not unreasonable to think that Church would have had a positive impact.

The Dallas Cowboys are not devoid of talent outside of Romo, Austin, Witten, Ware, Spencer, and Carter. The problem is that the players that exhibit the talent necessary to win big games are young and learning.

Morris Claiborne had his first real taste of elite NFL wide receivers on Sunday night. Claiborne will improve, grow, and learn from this experience.

Tyron Smith continues to demonstrate a steady, gradual improvement. Tyron is becoming accustomed to his new position at the all important left tackle, and shows the possibility to be the leader of the offensive line for more than a decade.

DeMarco Murray has shown that he is a great running back. Unlike his Cowboys' predecessor, Emmitt Smith, Murray has not shown an ability to avoid serious injury. If DeMarco is able to stay healthy, he looks like another great young player in Dallas.

But if Cowboys fans want to be honest with themselves, those are the only great and potentially great players on this team. Dez Bryant is an enigma that will catch 5 passes for 110 yards one week, and 1 pass for 15 yards the next. He may be the only other player to add to this group.

That makes half of the starters (11 players) play makers, or show the potential to be such. Five are veterans (Romo, Austin, Witten, Spencer, and Ware), one is on injured reserve (Lee), four are still very early on their learning curve or hurt (Carter, Claiborne, Smith, and Murray), and one is teetering between being great or being released (Bryant).

Carter, Claiborne, Smith, Murray, and Bryant should improve significantly between now and the end of the season. Those players may develop into the type of impact players Atlanta boasts, but nothing is guaranteed.

That begs the question, who are the impact players that Dallas can now rely upon outside of Romo, Witten, Austin, and Ware? Because teams like Atlanta have a clutch quarterback, two big-time wide receivers, a solid running back, a reliable tight end, and so forth.

Who does Dallas have that compares?

Crickets...

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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