OK Kool Aid Krewe, it's your time.
Yes some die hard naysayers are going to point to the punt return and talk about special teams concerns, but we just beat the pants off of a very good team. The half time stats were particularly awesome as the first team defense forced two turnovers and utterly stifled a potent offense. I want to point out some things that aren't going to get as much play, that are in danger of subtly slipping by in the information stream leaving this game. None of my observations include tape review, as I was at the game itself. I'm just relaying what I saw and found truly encouraging out of this game.
- Romo. Playing behind a frankenstein's monster of an experimental (and, IMO, abomination of an) offensive line that tried very hard to get him killed on two separate occasions, led masterful drives-- one nearly all Dez, the next nearly all Miles. For the half he had 137 yds, 2 TDs and a 131 rating. However, the play you probably missed was classic Romo-dini as he side stepped and skipped over 3 or 4 Bengals line men before finally throwing the ball away. I suddenly realized where all the hate comes from. Imagine being a fan of another team and shouting gethimgethimgethim! GET! HIM! for 10 seconds while Romo dances around looking for all the world like a little girl playing hopscotch, several times a game. That's gotta be frustrating and embarassing.
- Dez could've done even more damage. There were several plays where Dallas went heavy and left Dez outside. The Bengals repeatedly left Dez 1v1 with a CB and both safeties pulled up in the box. Without the training wheels on, there's not even a nod, much less an audible. That is a post for 6 to Dez every time.
- Romo also deliberately played with one hand behind his back. Apart from one throw to get the punt team some room on the first drive, he didn't even look Witten's way all game.
- Carter. He had several reps on WRs and he absolutely crushed them. I'm pretty sure he didn't allow a first down on either completion I saw against him. One of them to AJ Green. Let that sink in. We have a WLB who can get matched up against one of the best WRs in the game and not allow a 1st down (AJ Green ended up with 2 catches for 16 yds in the first half).
- Church. We all saw the strip, but did you see the great support up the field against the runs and short passes? He's just what we expected.
- Nick Hayden. I haven't put much stock in him but he flat beasted today. I think Jerry's comments about Ratliff are a direct reflection of Nick Hayden's play.
- Holloman and Wilcox both continue to play well, with a great blitz/sack and, IMO, the hit of the game (to dislodge a pass to TE Whalen) respectively. Webb also played well and his pick was a beautiful coverage all the way. Frederick has been a rock at C. He had some struggles this game, but I think that had more to do with the level of competition (both across from him and beside him). This draft class is making a huge impact... and in places we did not expect. I think Holloman is the first to earn a starting spot after Frederick.
- Piggy backing on that, while much has been made of the turnovers so far, what hasn't been pointed out very much is that four of them were directly caused by the new draft picks (2 Holloman, 1 Wilcox, 1 Webb) and a 5th by another Rookie (Heath). That's a nice thing.
And, rather than make a separate post, a short plea, if you'll excuse me (or rant if you prefer).
CAN WE JUST !@^$%#&$ PLAY ARKIN AT GUARD ALREADY?! We've tried Costa, We've tried Frederick, We've tried Livings. We've even tried Free. NONE of them are any better than Arkin at Guard and most of the time they are significantly worse, to my (admttedly inexpert) eye. More to the point, however, to get these no-better-than-arkin-at-best guys on the field, we severely weaken the rest of our line. WHY DOES THIS MAKE SENSE? I get it. He's not ready to start. But you know what he doesn't do? He doesn't do what Doug Free did on the first snap of this game. He doesn't do what Cook and Costa, and Livings and Bernadeau did all last year. He doesn't let guys have free runs at Tony Romo right up the middle of the field. And THAT should end the conversation. Your guards should be Leary and Bernadeau to start, and if one of them is out, David Arkin is your direct replacement.
ANYTHING else is stupidity.
Now, that aside, this team is going to own people. I truly believe this Bengals team we just faced in the first half is better than any other team we will face this year before the playoffs (including the week 5 Broncos minus Von Miller). There is not a team on our schedule that shouldn't be quaking in their boots. I'm not saying we win 'em all, but we're going to win a LOT.
Tip that glass, folks, the time is here. 2013 - Beginning the Winning