For the day after a hotly contested game, there were surprisingly few storylines to appear on Monday. Let's begin with game reviews, shall we?
The Broad One goes into the film room (a wood-paneled den in his mother's house, I'd imagine) and emerges with some clarity on Sunday's proceedings:
The tape showed that this was by far the best game that DeMarcus Lawrence played this season. He did a nice job of not only playing the read-option well toward his side, but he was able to chase several plays down from the backside, creating some negative plays. It was Lawrence who was able to drive Marshawn Lynch out of bounds late in the game in order to preserve some time on the clock for the offense. He did have one snap where Russell Wilson was able to get past him, but that damage was minimal. Lawrence was also able to generate some pressure on the initial drive for the Seahawks, forcing Wilson to have to hold the ball a little longer than he wanted to and forcing him to make a poor throw into the end zone. Next to Greg Hardy, he was the best defensive lineman the Cowboys had in this game.
Sturm's weekly "Morning After" piece takes Jason Garrett to task for being too conservative (once again):
Now, let's be clear. Riding Matt Cassel's arm is not ideal. He clearly scared either himself or the coaching staff (or both) with his multiple mistakes in New York against the Giants. He has limitations and his judgment might be chief amongst those limitations. But, if the game against those Seahawks depends on the ability to get one touchdown against them and you have 3 chances inside their 25 to do it, don't you owe it to yourself to put in your best passing opportunity and pulling the trigger?
Sure, this might mean that the Cowboys sacrifice near-certain Dan Bailey field goals. But settling for threes instead of sevens has down-the-road implications. Here's Bob:
To put it anther way, doesn't Garrett turn to Linehan at some juncture of that game and tell him that our only chance is to count on our QB to make one play. Let's call it and if the ship goes down, at least they went down swinging. One other convincing piece of evidence would be that if they just kick field goals, odds are that they would need Cassel to lead a drive the entire length of the field against this defense. What has better odds? One play or asking for a full drive?
Archer turns to his in-house stats guys for a less-than-inspiring factoid:
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Sherman broke up the pass on four of the five incomplete passes to Bryant. He also tackled Bryant for a 3-yard loss on Bryant's first catch of the game.
PFF's weekly grades are out, and the highest-scoring Cowboys is their free agent defensive end:
– DE Greg Hardy’s (+6.4) three weeks of work since his return already have him sitting inside the top 10 overall grades for 4-3 DEs. Along with five more total pressures to add to his season tally (two hits, three hurries) Hardy highlighted his day with a batted pass that he turned into an interception late in the third quarter. That takeaway set the Cowboys up deep in Seattle territory, and led to the field goal that gave Dallas their last lead in the contest.
Millen, a former University of Washington (and Cowboys) quarterback, offers a detailed look at the Seahawks final, game-clinching drive. Its painful but valuable work; here's a sample:
Switch comeback to Baldwin for 15 yards: From the Cowboy 46 with Seattle anticipating man coverage, the Seahawks employed a pick play of a different sort: a "switch" release, which resembled a switch on a train track. Baldwin, from his slot alignment, criss-crosses with Lockett. The effect against man coverage is similar to the picks employed at the line of scrimmage, except the switch release — made popular by the old run-and-shoot offense — creates the pick about 15 yards downfield. The ample separation enjoyed by Baldwin was the result.
There were plenty of stories detailing the Cowboys' anemic quarterback sitch...
Robinson parlays post-game locker room interviews with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant into a worthwhile take: no matter how we slice it, its all about the quarterback:
Look at the tape and see what the defense did to the whole offense, especially the run game and quarterback.
That's really what this is all about. We can go on and on about Seattle's defense and quarterback Russell Wilson driving 79 yards for a game-clinching field goal. But the reality is the Cowboys' defense played very well despite failing to net any sacks. It limited Seattle to 13 points, and in most situations, that's a winning effort.
But as Bryant said, go to the tape, and you'll see exactly what you'd expect: a quarterback situation that has unraveled everything.
Archer shares a nasty stat from Sunday's game: According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Cassel's effort on Sunday was just the fourth time this season a starting quarterback did not complete a pass of at least 10 yards through the air this season, and that includes Cassel's one-play cameo as Buffalo's starter in the season opener.
"We didn’t do enough offensively," coach Jason Garrett said.
The good news is that Tony Romo will be eligible to return to practice on Wednesday.
We're still a ways off from Number Nine's return; according to his BFF, however, he's getting ready and is a-rarin' to go:
"You can tell he's got pep in his step," tight end Jason Witten said. "He's excited to get back. I know he's working hard to do everything he can so when he does come back he'll be able to play at a high level. He's been through this before. He'll work hard to get back. We still got a while to do that but I know we're getting close."
In thinking about how to ease Romo back into the mix, Moore brings up a good point:
There's something else to consider. If Romo does return to practice this week in a limited capacity, that takes snaps away from starter Matt Cassel. Based on the level of production in Sunday's loss to Seattle - Cassel's 97 yards passing was the lowest total by a quarterback to start and finish a game for the Cowboys in 12 years - does Romo really need to take practice time away from Cassel?
The clock, Dixon writes, is ticking:
Even executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged not long after Romo broke his left collarbone in Week 2 that the Cowboys would have difficulty defending their NFC East title if they went "oh-fer" in seven games without Romo.
If they don't beat Philadelphia, the Cowboys' skid will reach six games. It would be their longest losing streak since the 1-15 debacle of 1989, the year Jerry Jones bought the team.
Tick, tick, tick...
Multiple writers came out with pieces proclaiming that this extended losing streak shows more than ever just how valuable Tony Romo is to the Cowboys...
With five straight losses in the books, Sully Bald Head speculates on what the last few years would have looked like sans Romo. Warning: it ain't pretty:
I’m just saying, what we’ve witnessed these last five games would have been the norm. The three straight 5-11 seasons under Dave Campo would have looked like Lombardi’s Packers in comparison. I’m serious.
If Romo isn’t playing quarterback these past four seasons, my guess is the Cowboys would have finished somewhere in the ballpark of 3-13 and maybe 6-10 last year. That’s how instrumental the quarterback is, especially in this system. Romo was winning those other games.
Griffin jumps on the "y'all gonna appreciate Romo now!" bandwagon, right behind Sullivan:
If you’re reading this with a perennial Romo hater, you’ll notice he or she is probably reading along quietly now instead of throwing out all the outdated, inaccurate jokes about the Cowboys’ signal-caller and unquestioned MVP....Anyone with novice-level football knowledge who has watched all of Dallas’ games this year knows this team would be at least 5-2 if Romo was healthy and likely even 6-1. The Cowboys’ defense is playing at a championship level right now and the running game has finally found its stride again with McFadden carrying the load.
There’s only one thing missing.
I know Danny already cited this article in yesterday's news post, but I wanted to remind everyone of this little gem from The Sturminator, in response to a query about whether the recent QB play makes him appreciate Tony Romo even more than he did in the past:
The play of Romo will never be questioned again.
As the headline suggests, the Cowboys' first rounder played every defensive snap for the first time all season. Not only did he start at safety, but, as Archer notes, he also did his best Darren Woodson impersonation:
What was a first for Jones Sunday was that he played the nickel cornerback role as well with Corey White slowed by a knee injury and Tyler Patmon inactive. As a result, he played all 62 snaps with Sean Lee, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr.
Jones has quietly settled into a starting role. Here's what his head coach has to say about his ascension:
"He’s just playing well," Garrett said of Jones. "Everything we’ve given him over the course of the early part of the season, he’s seemed to handle the work well. Whether it’s covering a guy as a matchup for us, playing man-to-man defense, or going in at safety, playing some dime, playing some nickel, he just does a lot of good things. He’s around the football. He makes plays on the ball. He breaks up passes. He makes tackles. He’s a good football player."
Now that wide receiver Brice Butler has been on the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster, Archer writes, the team has to give up its fifth-round pick next year to Oakland in exchange for the Raiders' sixth rounder. That's just one of several moves that will impact day three of next year's draft:
The Cowboys gave up their sixth-round pick in 2016 to select tight end Geoff Swaim in the seventh round last May. The Cowboys will give up their seventh-round pick next year to the Seahawks for running back Christine Michael, since those trade conditions have been met. He had to be on the 46-man roster three times in order for the Cowboys to give up their pick.
The whiz kids over at 538 ask: how do you rate an NFL team across decades of play? One method is Elo, a simple measure of strength based on game-by-game results (it's based on a relatively simple system developed by the physicist Arpad Elo to rate chess players). Fischer-Baum and Silver calculated Elo ratings for every game in league history and have some handy-dandy charts to illustrate their findings. One of their test cases is the 90s Cowboys:
The Cowboys finished the 1989 season at 1-15, bottoming out with a 1271 Elo rating. They’d make the playoffs two years later and win the Super Bowl the following season — the first of three titles in the 1990s. The Cowboys’ Elo rating after that championship game, in January 1993, was 1784, a gain of over 500 points in just three years.
And, finally, with Cowboys Nation bemoaning the absence of a dynamic return man on Dallas' roster, help might be on the way, in the form of a man who enjoyed tremendous success against the Cowboys back in the second preseason game:
Some of you have asked about Hayne in SF. Was told that likely to have some discussions about him Monday.— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) November 1, 2015
In case you have forgotten, here's the day he had in Levi's Stadium back in late August.
Couldn't hurt to kick the tires, could it?