This was supposed to be a special season. But then bad stuff started happening.
The first two weeks of the season were bittersweet victories as the team suffered losses to their two biggest offensive playmakers - Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. The most recent two weeks have been filled with disappointment as the Cowboys have lost both games, including a miserable performance against the winless New Orleans Saints. As the team now sits at a record of 2-2 with the reigning Super Bowl champs waiting for them on Sunday, many fans are left dumbfounded, wondering where it all went wrong. The Cowboys will now look to pick up the pieces and patch together some decent football and try to fix the things that are broken.
So what are those things exactly? Well, here are three things the Cowboys must correct to get them back to their winning ways.
DISCLAIMER: There is not much of a question that the biggest contributing factor affecting the on-field performance is the absence of their big name playmakers. Romo, Dez, Greg Hardy, Orlando Scandrick, Randy Gregory, and even Sean Lee have all missed time. And these guys are really important players on this team. And while not having these players hurts immensely, it will not be discussed any further in this post. Instead, the focus will be directed toward the things happening on the field that are within the team's ability to control.
Missed opportunities to take the ball away
As the Cool One pointed out in his head-scratcher article, the Cowboys defense has not been able to generate turnovers so far this season. This was a big part of the defenses success in 2014, however it has all but gone by the wayside this year. But it's not from a lack of trying. They are hitting hard and ripping the ball away. The problem with that is that all these recovered fumbles are getting overturned because the runners were ruled down. The corners have also had opportunities to intercept passes, but just haven't been able to catch the ball. In each of the last two games, the Cowboys have dropped a pass that should have been picked. These chances don't come around all the time and the Cowboys have to cash in on them when they do.
Lack of discipline
There is no question that Jason Garrett has done an outstanding job coaching this team. The entire culture of this organization has changed and has started shaping itself towards winning football. He has his players fighting week after week, constantly striving to be the best version of themselves.
But what version have we been seeing lately?
The penalties in the game against Philadelphia were just agonizing. And we aren't talking about one-time fluke mental lapses by rookies. You have Jason Witten always trying to get a head start on the play before the ball is snapped. You have Pro Bowl offensive linemen committing an assortment of penalties. You have Joseph Randle leaping up in the air exposing the ball, not once, but in two straight games. But the thing that is most bothersome is how disorganized the team has been when it comes to getting the right personnel on the field. Atlanta had an easy two-point conversion because the Cowboys only had ten players on the field. A costly 12-men on the field penalty gave New Orleans a field goal. And even when they have the right amount of guys out there, sometimes the players don't know their assignments and get caught unprepared as they did in the big game ending touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller on Sunday.
This team just doesn't have it together. Jason Garrett needs to have his soldiers better prepared for battle. It's understandable that unexpected circumstances have put the team in precarious situations, but as Garrett himself would say - they need to be their best, regardless of circumstances.
One legged offense
The disappearance of the running game has everyone stunned. The Cowboys will start off smoking, but then quickly fizzle. Against the Falcons, the running attacked looked pretty good for two quarters. Against the Saint, they looked good for two plays. It seems like the runs are all or nothing as the running backs will either break off a huge run or they'll get stuffed at the line. There hasn't been too many four or five yard runs lately.
The problem the Cowboys are facing is that the defenses are committing a lot of resources around the line of scrimmage. This is just too much workload for the offensive line to deal with. And with the offense unable to win battles on the outside, defenses are going to just keep coming at them. Establishing the run is important and Garrett doesn't want opposing defenses to dictate how his team plays offense, but unsuccessful plays are getting the offense in bad down-and-distance situations.
The running game is important to keep the chains moving and help keep their own defense from wearing down, but if they are not getting first downs - it's not working. Surprisingly, the Cowboys have had a few instances where they have had to play with a sense of urgency and abandoned the run completely. During most of these moments, the offense has moved the ball extremely well. It's almost perplexing to watch them unsuccessfully grind out yardage for most of the game, only to breeze down the field with a very effective passing attack. Is it possible that the team has some ability in this department that they aren't fully utilizing? That's not to say that you want to see them pass happy, but if they could get defenses on their heels a bit, this could loosen up the running game.
What do you think needs to be fixed in order to get the Cowboys back on the winning track?
|Don’t forget to resister for our Blogging the Boys meet-up!
Oct 24-25, 2015
Cowboys-Giants in the beautiful Poconos
|Three awesome Cowboys-centric events!|
|Saturday, October 24
(8:00-10:00 PM): Dinner the night before the game
|Sunday, October 25
(9:00 AM - 1:00 PM): Pre-game brunch
|Sunday, October 25
(4:30-8:30 PM) Cowboys-Giants game, with free buffet
|Click Here to RSVP||Click here for more information on pricing, lodging, etc.|