I know everybody is trying to work the Saints game out of their system, but I just have to go back to it one more time after I read this article tonight. Most you guys know I was apoplectic about the Cowboys inability to stop the passes out in the flats. To me, this was the problem in the game because the Saints kept drives alive and chewed up yardage and the clock by continually converting these short passes for positive plays. Later in the game, the Saints started abusing our safeties but they started to build their momentum and their lead by hitting Karney and Bush in the flats.
I also thought that this was a failure by the coaching staff to adjust during the game. I know Parcells said that the OLB's (mainly DeMarcus Ware) were supposed to peel back and cover these passes but failed to do so. Well, logic tells me that after a couple of times of seeing this happen someone on the Cowboys' staff would pull the players aside and give them an ultimatum. If they don't start covering these passes then their butts would be on the bench for a couple of series until they learned their lesson. I guess that never happened. Either way, to me, it's a failure of the coaching staff. I'm as big a fan of DeMarcus Ware as you'll find on this planet, but if he's not executing the defense as designed, then Kevin Burnett should get a series or two until Ware gets the idea.
OK, that was a lot of rambling to make a point. But check out what Sean Payton had to say about the game.
"Mike knows this as well as anyone: It wasn't like we went into the game and said, `We need to get the ball in Mike Karney's hands today,'" Payton said. "That being said, we were getting some looks that suggested we might have some throws to the flats. We wanted to get some quicker throws versus the pressure so the quarterback wouldn't get hit and he benefited from that."
Bingo. Adjustments by the Saints coaches during the game. The Cowboys were showing a lot of pressure early in the game and the Saints were not having any luck moving the ball on the first couple of series. So they came up with some plays to take advantage of that. The problem is the Cowboys never made their own adjustments to counter it. When I charted the game on Monday morning, the first time I actually saw a Cowboys' OLB peel back to cover those passes was late in the 3rd quarter or early 4th quarter. Both Burnett and Ware made the adjustment, but by then the game was over.
On Karney's first TD, which was a run and not a pass in the flats, the Cowboys just got beat physically.
"(Guard) Jahri Evans killed his guy. (Center) Jeff Faine took care of his guy. (Guard) Jamar Nesbit cracked on the backside linebacker that was supposed to come over the top. I just walked in, just how we ran it in practice," Karney recalled.
For the record, it was Jay Ratliff and Jason Ferguson who both got buried on that play just like Karney described. But on those passes in the flats, there's no excuse. If the defense wasn't designed to stop them, then they should've made the adjustment to stop it. If the players weren't executing the defense as designed, then sit them down and put someone in that will. You don't have to bench them for the whole game, but just enough to get the point across. (Please don't take this out of context, I still think Parcells is a great coach and I think DeMarcus Ware is a great player - in fact, he's one of my favorite Cowboys - but in this game either one, or both of them, failed).
Rant over, back to your regularly scheduled Cowboys coverage.