I’ll get to the film review hopefully sometime later today, but I have a few thoughts and observations to make before that.
In all the hoopla about the offense scoring points and the fine play of Tony Romo, Jason Witten and the wide receiver group, little has been made of the good job the offensive line did in allowing Romo time. We don’t put up 45 points and continuously hit big plays in the passing game without the line getting the job done. Things became easier once Osi Umenyeora went down, but you can’t praise the line enough for giving Romo time.
Continuing on offense, T.O. was again a playmaker. If you were like me you were a little worried when he didn’t see any real action in the first half, T.O. likes to be involved early. But the new and improved T.O. didn’t make waves and waited patiently until the Giants had to adjust their defense for Witten, and then banged home two big TD catches. You can read more about T.O.’s evening here.
I’m sure the JJ vs. MB3 debate will kick into high gear in the next couple of days. So without watching the replay, here are my quick observations. The team does seem to react better when MB3 is in there, maybe it’s just his running style that gets everybody fired up. Statistically, they had pretty similar evenings (except for the MB3 TD), but MB3’s runs were more dynamic and forceful. Having said that, my one complaint about Jason Garrett’s play-calling was his insistence on running JJ between the tackles. What happened to the toss sweep we ran over and over in training camp and preseason? JJ had his biggest run when he bounced one outside and his other big play was a screen pass. If the Cowboys are going to use JJ, let’s get him out on the edges.
One more thing on the offense, I like how we are hitting our receivers on the run headed toward the goal line. In some ways, it reminded me of the St. Louis Rams under Mike Martz. No coincidence since Martz is a disciple of the same offense that Garrett is running. It was nice to see Romo hit the receivers on the move and let them make plays afterwards.
Over on defense, the picture isn’t as rosy. First, we lost Jason Ferguson for the season and that’s a big blow. Fergie was the man in clogging up the middle. Now, we need Jay Ratliff to come up big and we need to get him some help. Remi Ayodele may be the quick solution to a back up.
JJT takes the defense to task in this article.
Mr. Fix-it's defense needs some duct tape. And some super glue. And whatever else he can find in his toolbox.
Some dude named Derrick Ward ripped off a 44-yard run. Just so you know, New York rushed for 124 yards and a 5.6 average.
This is hardly what Jerry Jones had in mind when he hired Phillips.
"We got 10 more [points] than they did," Phillips said. "We have to play good enough to win. Can we win giving up 35 a game? No.
"We have an opportunity to play better next week."
I don’t like the idea of having to win shootouts on a consistent basis, we need our defense to elevate its play and quickly. We sure seemed to have Roy Williams back in coverage a lot in the game and the results were predictable. I don’t know exactly what happened in the secondary, I’ll have a better idea after watching the replay, but the corners and Roy were beat on a regular basis. And I’m not part of the camp that thinks Jacques Reeves played a solid game, as observed in various places, including this article. He had a nice pass breakup in the endzone and got an INT when Plaxico Burress fell down, but in general he gave up a lot of yards and was involved on two Giants’ TD’s. He needs to improve if Terence Newman is out for any extended period. You’ll hear Wade Phillips and company praise Reeves, they have to, they need his confidence up, but he needs to improve by getting more aggressive and quit giving up so much cushion. I won’t even talk about Anthony Henry, who needs to play a lot better, and he’s a regular starter so he has no excuses. At least Reeves is still learning, Henry has no such defense.
UPDATE BTB-regular dunkman suggests that the Cowboys coaching staff asked Reeves to play back and conservatively. There might be some truth to this, I through halftime with the film review and the Cowboys played some press coverage early but that didn't work and they seemed to drop off some. They were using Roy Williams to help Reeves in bracket coverage, but that didn't really work either. I still think Reeves needs to improve if he is going to on a regular basis. But, coach gave him a game ball, so they liked him and that's all that matters. END UPDATE
I thought that Anthony Spencer actually started to show something in the second half. He got to Eli Manning a couple of times and made a few nice plays. But we could sure use a healthy Greg Ellis to give us a little more firepower among the front seven.
To close, Tony Romo showed his growth as a QB with one simple play that was a sack.
Yet, it might have been that innocuous 9-yard loss on a sack late in the third quarter that best illustrates just how far the Cowboys quarterback has come in the maturity department.
Caught in the grasp of Giants' defensive end Justin Tuck, Romo still might have had a chance to unload the ball as he was being spun down. He saw a receiver, clearly thought about flinging it wildly in his direction... and last season probably would have done just that.
Not this time. Not this year.
Ball security, baby. Romo is learning.