Much has been made about the loss of Tony Romo and how that coincides with the losses that the Dallas Cowboys have garnered over the past month. But this team was having issues before Romo went down after the Cardinals game.
When Shawn Springs made a comment of how the Redskins exposed how to defeat the Cowboys, I decided to go back and take a look at the game.
What I found were situations that did not bode well for the Cowboys, especially when you compound each with the other.
Dallas ran 59 plays from scrimmage. 10 of them were designed run plays (Tony Romo scrambled for 7 yards on a pass play so I won't count that). Barber was 8 for 26 yards and Terrell Owens was 2 for 11 yards.
The Cowboys must establish the run for a couple of reasons, the biggest of which is to prevent the offense from becoming one-dimensional. If Dallas cannot run with any effectiveness, the play-action won't be a threat.
The other side of the token is passing to set up the run. Dallas did a lot of this last year and were very successful with it. The only problem is that they had a solid offensive line to pass and run block.
The return of Kyle Kosier should help a little. And, if Flozell Adams is also healthy after the bye week, that line could potentially play well.
The Redskins have been pretty good in shutting down the Dallas rushing game. Even in last year's game at Texas Stadium, Barber was just shy of 3 yards per carry and Julius Jones was 9 for 27. The difference was that Romo hit Terrell Owens 4 times for touchdowns. If they can get that kind of pass production, Washington will back out of the box and that should open lanes for the running game.
Balance is what makes an effective offense hum. Go lopsided to either side and the team will struggle.
Time Isn't On My Side
Look at the drive charts for the game. Dallas had 11 drives. The went-3-and-out on 4 of them and 4-and-out on one, ending in an interception. Of all drives, the longest duration of possession was a paultry 3:26.
And that was the first drive.
That's a total of just under 22 minutes of possession.
Contrast that with the drives of the Redskins - of their 10 drives, they had 4 under 3 minutes (the 11th drive was a 1:42 minute kneel-down at the end of the game). Only one drive was under 3 minutes in the 2nd half.
Urgency shouldn't be Necessary
The Cowboys has a 10-play drive at the end of the first half and an 8-play drive at the end of the game. Exclude those, which were exclusively passes (1 run in the 10-play drive) and they had one other extended drive, another 8-play drive in the 3rd quarter that netted 21 yards.
These issues amplify why the Cowboys need to get the running game going. If they cannot sustain drives, they cannot take time off of the clock. If they cannot dominate the time of possession, the defense will get gassed and break down later in the game.
We've read hints of a hurry-up offense in Sunday night's game as a change of pace, but if they do not consistently run the ball, the defense will get no rest.
And that could spell danger for a win this week.