The Cowboys didn't turn over the ball once against the Eagles yesterday, yet still allowed 33 points to a team that must now be considered one of the favorites for the first overall pick. Over the last two games the Cowboys have allowed a combined 72 points. The last time the Cowboys allowed that many points in successive games, Wade Phillips was fired as the head coach.
The Cowboys can't be happy with that type of defensive performance. The situation today isn't comparable to the 35-17 and 45-7 losses to the Jaguars and Packers in 2010, but it's fair to say that almost everybody expected more from this defense than it is currently showing.
Of course, a large part of that is due to the injuries that have been piling up, and with that in mind, it’s worth talking a look at who exactly ended up taking the snaps against the Eagles yesterday. So today, we'll look at both the offensive and defensive snapcounts, starting with the defense:
|Cowboys' Defensive Snapcounts vs Eagles
|Defensive Tackles||Defensive Ends||Outside Linebackers||Inside Linebackers||Cornerbacks||Safeties|
Here are some general observations about the snapcounts:
Injuries: The players marked in red are currently out injured or on IR, and this table visualizes the impact these injuries have had quite well: Almost every unit is missing a starter, and frankly, the replacements haven't even come close to adequately replacing the injured players - at least not yesterday.
Inside linebackers: It's quite shocking to see that Ernie Sims, a guy picked up off the street, was in the game for every single snap, while free agency acquisition Dan Connor only saw half the defensive snaps. And considering that Sims had trouble shedding blocks and kept attacking the wrong holes throughout the game, that's a big indictment against Connor.
Safeties: Danny McCray is not the greatest safety in the world. That's nothing new. But for a while early in the season, he was at least passable as a replacement for Barry Church. But playing behind two weak inside linebackers, McCray's own deficits are exposed more often. The middle of the field has become the Bermuda triangle of the Cowboys defense: enemy receivers simply disappear from the defensive radar when they enter that triangle made up of the two ILBs and McCray. It's obvious to everybody, yet the Cowboys had no choice but to play McCray for all but one of the 63 defensive snaps.
Defensive Backs: Not much to see here. The starters all played every single snap and Jenkins played the slot. Note though that newly acquired CB Sterling Moore got two snaps after only joining the Cowboys on Saturday. He was put in on two snaps where he had to cover the Eagles tight end, and made a critical play when he gang-tackled Brent Celek with Morris Claiborne for a ten-yard gain on the Eagles’ fourth-and-13 play after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
On to the offense:
|Cowboys' Offensive Snapcounts vs Eagles
Running backs: Lawrence Vickers was on the field for more than 30 snaps for the first time all season, and he helped the Cowboys run for more than 100 yards for only the fourth time this season. DeMarco Murray may not have seen a lot of snaps overall, but they were productive: Murray had 23 runs and 4 receptions for a combined 102 yards.
QB: This may have gotten lost in all the post-game brouhaha, but Tony Romo had the highest passer rating of his career last night with a 150.5 rating. For the season, he has the second highest completion rate of his career, and is on pace for 4,880 yards which would obliterate his previous best of 4,483 from 2009. And over the last five games, Romo has played almost mistake-free, throwing for 1,587 yards, 10 TDs and only two INTs for a passer rating of 105.5, the fourth best in the league over that span.
Wide receivers: One week after Harris and Beasley played 68 and 61 snaps respectively, they dropped back behind Ogletree in the depth chart and in the snapcount, but both outgained Ogletree. Beasley had two catches for 13 yards, Harris one for 11 while Ogletree caught one ball on two targets for 8 yards.
Dez Bryant likely won't be able to sustain the pace he's set over the last three games in which he has 388 receiving yards and five touchdowns. But if he did, over a full season, that type of performance would translate to 2,069 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns.
For all the deficits the Cowboys currently have on defense, at least their offense seems to have found its groove, although there still are some occasional misfires. Over the last four games, the Cowboys have scored 130 points, the second most in the league behind only the Patriots (168) and ahead of Denver and Houston (both 114). Alas, it has been only barely enough to bail out the defense, which has allowed 114 points over the same span, the sixth most in the league.
Then again, it was the pre-injury defense that held the Cowboys in many games early in the season, so now may be just the right time for the offense to shoulder that weight.
Totally like, you know, Karma and stuff...