The season does not have long to run. The Dallas Cowboys are still shooting to make the playoffs, but have a tough road ahead. That makes this question from Marshall Faulk particularly appropriate.
Here is the transcript: "To be GMC Professional Grade you must be precise. The playoffs demand precision, as the talent gap has narrowed considerably. As the last month of regular season winds down, what areas need to be sharpened to give your team an edge?'
After the mess that happened last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the easy answer to this question would be "Everything." But that makes for an embarrassingly short post.
And I really do have an answer, one that relates directly to fixing the issues from the last game.
It deals with defense. While the offense had a lot of issues, I don't think precision is adequate to encompass what happened on that side of the ball. It was just an awful performance by Tony Romo and the rest of the offensive players.
But this question immediately brings to mind the latest in Bob Sturm's series of posts about Rod Marinelli's defense. He addressed the way the Eagles repeatedly gashed the Cowboys for big yards, and attributed it to the lack of discipline by the defense.
That is what has to be bothersome for anyone who wants the Cowboys to do well. It is one thing to be beaten physically - and there was some of that for sure. But, it is far more disappointing to just have assignment busts that allow for huge plays where nobody on the offense does anything remarkable. They just seize a moment where your guy was not in his spot doing his job.
That is rather evident in the videos Sturm used, where players were crashing inside and leaving the edge completely open, or in the pass example he uses where Brandon Carr bit on what was in front of him and let his primary assignment get wide open. Discipline and precision go hand in hand, and in some ways, are really talking about the same thing.
Neithan20000 made the observation that the team just looked mentally unprepared in that game, which fits the lack of precision idea. It still carries more weight for the defense, because they did not seem to lack energy, at least early in the game. Actually, they were at times far too energetic, with linemen crashing into the backfield, and letting too many plays get past them. Meanwhile, the offense had a sluggish feel about it from the very start.
Hopefully, all the issues can be resolved by the Cowboys, because they really need to win the next game. While the Chicago Bears do not have a winning record, they still have Jay Cutler (who can be either good or bad), Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and some tight end named Martellus Bennett. If the defense does not maintain lane discipline and take care of the correct assignments, they will start putting points up like they did the last time the Cowboys came to play them. That was the game where the Bears never punted, because Dallas never stopped them offensively. Obviously, that has to change.