Well, lets start with the biggest story from the game:
Toddzilla with the straight dope on Romo's injury:
He is expected to miss about eight weeks, coach Jason Garrett said Monday.
With Romo expected to miss at least eight weeks, the team will likely place him on the the injured reserve/designated to return list, a source tells ESPN's Ed Werder. That means Romo would not be eligible to practice for six weeks or to play for eight weeks. That move would create a roster spot for backup quarterback Kellen Moore.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. No surgery needed. We're just getting started cowboys nation. See you soon— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) September 21, 2015
The titular decision, for Moore? It's whether or not to move Romo to a special roster category:
The Cowboys can gain a roster spot in the coming weeks if they place Romo on the IR/designated return. It's a procedural move that tracks with the injury, keeping Romo off the field for eight weeks with the opportunity to resume practicing with the team in six weeks.
A decision will likely be made in the next 48 hours after the Cowboys have a chance to work out potential backups, explore trade options and consider whether to elevate recently acquired Kellen Moore from the practice squad.
The Sturminator writes about the reality of life in the NFL. File it under "Fortune is a cruel mistress":
But, now we turn our attention to the health of this team. We certainly have referenced on several occasions how the Cowboys were incredibly healthy last year. They dodged a number of bullets and averaged 14.5 starts/per starter (according to one measuring tool). This year will not work that way. They seem to be on their way to the highest number of significant injuries in the league with losing Orlando Scandrick for all 16, Dez Bryant for at least half the season, and now Tony Romo for what I assume is almost all the way to Thanksgiving.
Sherrington opens an otherwise hum-drum piece with a stellar reference:
Every time the Cowboys make an announcement these days, you feel like you're listening to the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. An arm here. A leg there. Pretty soon you wonder how much longer this can go on before someone stops the fight.
Losing your best defensive back for the season is bad enough, then you add your best receiver for a couple of months and your best pass rushers and now your star quarterback?
Now that, sir, is more than just a flesh wound.
As the headline promises, Jones the Elder has a simple strategy for managing the difficult middle of this season and having a chance to compete for the playoffs this season:
"...just don't get eliminated."
The "next man up" ethos is about to be tested...
As a way of describing the challenges the team faces in the coming weeks, Phillips takes us back to Jason Garrett's first game as the Cowboys' head coach and backup cornerback Bryan McCann:
Replacing injured starters Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins, McCann delivered a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown in his first NFL game – the longest in team history. The Cowboys broke a five-game losing streak with a win over the New York Football Giants at the Meadowlands, 33-20.
Fast forward five years. In many ways, Garrett has built his football program using that week as a template...
"Atlanta’s coming in here on Sunday," Garrett said Monday after the Cowboys’ gritty, not-so-pretty win at Philadelphia.
Archer with the day's best line:
Brandon Weeden, the car keys are yours.
In an In$ider piece, Sando looks at the numbers and concludes that the Cowboys aren't necessarily sunk with Weeden at the helm, provided he pays better than he did as a starter in Clevelend:
For Dallas to go 5-5 with Weeden instead of 3-7, the Cowboys probably would need his QBR to come in around 50 on the 100-point scale. Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler were each a few points better than 50 in cumulative QBR last season. They were not great by any stretch of the imagination, but they did better than we might reasonably expect from a backup such as Weeden.
Barnwell, a Giants fan, gleefully makes the case for Weeden's suckitude:
Weeden isn’t simply a poor man’s version of Romo; he fundamentally lacks the skill set that Romo uses to succeed, especially in terms of getting outside the pocket and improvising to make plays while on the run. In fact, since 2012, no qualified passer has averaged more time in the pocket than Weeden, who has averaged 2.57 seconds per play. And it’s not like Weeden does much when he is there; the 31-year-old has posted a 30.8 QBR on throws inside the pocket since entering the league in 2012, the worst mark in football among passers with 500 attempts or more.
The Goose responds to a query about what the Cowboys will do schematically in Romo's absence:
"The Cowboys gave you a look at the playbook when they hit Dunbar on that go route. He's one of the few guys with speed on this offense and any time you can flank him against a linebacker, the Cowboys are going to capitalize on that matchup. Even out of the backfield, Dunbar can be the shortest, safest pass and the best chance fir a big play. I think you;ll see some creative use of Dunbar going forward. Escobar, Dunbar, Randle, Witten, McFadden...the shorter passes are the safer passes. The last thing the Cowboys need is for Weeden to start airing it out and throwing interceptions down field. I think you're right on the mark. I expect a heavy does of safe passes by Weeden. If his receivers don't catch the ball, no one does."
The Babe with a post-game Q&A session. Here, he discusses what Brandon Weeden needs to do to keep the Cowboys afloat:
Simple. Not turn the ball over. Easier said than done, but I would tell him, "Any possession that ends in a kick... punt, field goal, or extra point... we can live with." For the first time in a long, long time, it appears that this team can play to its defense. And you have a great punter and kicker who can tilt the field position game. Dan Bailey has kicked off 10 times this year. 9 have been touchbacks. Chris Jones is leading the NFL in net punting with a 47.4 yard average. That is spectacular.
Not to be outdone, King weighs in on the Romo loss and what it means:
It’s likely Romo will miss two months; the Cowboys would be fortunate to get him and Dez Bryant (broken foot) back for the final six games. It’s not a stretch to think they could split the next eight games, particularly with the way their defense played in suffocating the Eagles. Dallas doesn’t have a strong backup (Brandon Weeden) and may be in the market for quarterback help this week. (Matt Cassel? Chad Henne?) So the Cowboys will now have to rely on defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s unit to play low-scoring, run-heavy games. As Tony Dungy said on NBC last night, Marinelli will tell his defensive players they have to play even better now and keep Dallas in the race until Romo returns. In what is shaping up to be a weak NFC East, playing 17-13 games might be the Cowboys’ best chance to survive.
JJT opines that the Cowboys can still win this thing:
The Cowboys can win the NFC East -- among the NFL's worst divisions based on the season's first two weeks -- as long as they lean on the running game and the defense and ask Weeden to manage games and avoid losing them.
Weeden must understand that incompletions, occasional sacks and punts are acceptable, but turnovers are not. The Cowboys need their offensive line, which might be the best in the league, to control the line of scrimmage.
Actually, this last item is the one that scares me. In two games, this O-line has been anything but dominant. I'm starting to wonder if they miss Bill Callahan...
The Cowboys will work out four veteran quarterbacks on Tuesday, Tiny Jim reports. Befoe you read the names, put your hands over your face so that you can peer through your fingers: Christian Ponder, Matt Flynn, Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
The defense can't get enough props for the way they played against Philadelphia...
Eatman waxes eloquent about the defensive performance:
What Rod Marinelli did was an absolute masterpiece. He not only shut down the Eagles’ offense, but slowed them down in the process. Maybe those two things are one in the same. If you slow’em down, you more and less can shut them down. The Cowboys were able to do both.
Archer asks: what made the Cowboys defense so successful on Sunday? The answers he received from the players were simple:
"We just did our jobs," defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. "Everybody played as one. One defense. We played together, played our gaps, disciplined in our assignments. We just did a great job of doing our job."
Do. Your. Job.
Here's my fave:
3. These Cowboys defensive backs were yet again impressive. Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr each had another solid game and are playing with a ton of confidence. Claiborne is starting to look like the player the Cowboys drafted back in 2012. Carr allowed just 2 catches for 24 yards and a TD in garbage time. Rookie DB Byron Jones also showed up. Jones allowed 1 catch on 3 targets and made a really nice pass breakup to set up JJ Wilcox's interception late in the game. Speaking of Wilcox, he and Church are currently Pro Football Focus's 6th and 9th ranked safeties, if you're into that sort of thing.
Professor Sabin hands out grades for Sunday's test. Low marks to the O-line; high marks to the special teams and all three defensive position groups, including linebackers:
What went right: Lee was a wrecking ball, busting up plays and stalking DeMarco Murray throughout the game. Lee always seemed to be at the right place at the right time, making sure the ball carrier or receiver was stopped in his tracks. Lee's performance overshadowed the strong effort put forth by Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens recorded the Cowboys' only sack and contributed five tackles.
What went wrong: There wasn't much to gripe about this performance. The superior linebacker play was a byproduct of the defensive line's ability to knock back the Eagles' blocking front. Lee and Hitchens ran free and were able to close off plays before they developed.
Phillips hits us with a rather astonishing factoid about Sean Lee's end zone pick on Sunday:
It was Lee’s 12th interception since he entered the league in 2010, and despite only playing in 47 of a possible 82 career games, it’s the highest interception total by a linebacker in the NFL in that span.
The Cowboys, George reports, grade their players after games based on a metric system that calculates production points based on how well they play. In Monday's presser, Jason Garrett Cowboys said Sean Lee broke record. Who was the former holder of the championship belt?
...Bruce Carter had held the club record for production points with 56 against Washington in the regular-season finale last year. Carter had two interceptions in that game and led the Cowboys with 11 tackles.
Eatman offers up his weekly handful of important plays. Here's one that I think is being under-reported:
Hustle by the rookie – Offensive lineman La’el Collins made his NFL debut on Sunday and while he just rotated at left guard with Mackenzy Bernadeau, it was a hustle play on his part that proved to be a pivotal play. The Cowboys led 13-3 around the 7:45 mark in the fourth when tight end Gavin Escobar coughed up the ball after a catch. Philly’s Malcom Jenkins scooped up the ball and had a clear path to the end zone. But Collins had an angle on Jenkins and was able to run him down at the Cowboys’ 30 after a 34-yard gain. Considering the Eagles, still had work to do, they got into a hurry-up mode but on first down, Bradford wasn’t ready for a shotgun snap and the ball was fumbled in the backfield and eventually recovered by Nick Hayden. The next time Philly got the ball, it was less than five minutes remaining in the fourth.
Not all the news was good.
The Noble Drummond kicks on a four-part series with this necessary dose of reality:
We often talk about how sacks and offensive penalties are drive-killers and no game better exemplified this edict than Sunday’s. If the Cowboys have any hope of surviving Nuclear Winter until Romo returns, it is imperative they get this straightened out. An offense led by Brandon Weeden is unlikely to overcome in-drive setbacks with anywhere near the frequency of one led by Tony Romo.
On the other hand, not all the news was bad:
The Broad One with his daily dozen observations. I found many of them to be worthwhile; this one in particular caught my eye:
When the Cowboys running game started to click in the second half, it was largely due to the work of Travis Frederick. There was nothing easy about the assignment that Frederick drew in having to deal with Bennie Logan, but he managed to make it work. Frederick was able to gain better positioning and leverage as the game wore on, which allowed these backs more of an opportunity to make the cuts necessary for positive runs when those yards were tough to come by. Frederick was able to outlast Logan when it counted the most in the second half.
Three reasons on each side of the ledger. Here's one from the "can't" column that shows Garofalo hasn't been paying attention:
There still isn't a lot of depth in the secondary. The Cowboys' pass defense hasn't been challenged by a legit passing game. Let's see how it stacks up once it is.
Cowlishaw with ten observations, some of them salient. This is actually one that I have been thinking about a lot:
Until now, I never considered the Cowboys fortunate that they don't play Washington until December. Given that the Redskins have the only other victory in the division, maybe that is a stroke of luck. You would expect Dez Bryant and perhaps Tony Romo to be back at full strength when the teams meet at FedEx Field on Monday, Dec. 7. The rematch is the regular season ender on Jan. 3.
I know a lot of people have been dismissing the Redskins, but It wouldn't surprise me one bit if that Jan 3 game is for the division title. They are much better than most imagine.
As is oft said, but bears repeating, Eagles tears are the most refreshing of opponents' tears...
Bowen shows why he's The Enquirer's top sports writer with this sublime lead-in:
CHIP KELLY looked small and pale, standing behind a Lincoln Financial Field lectern in the aftermath of the worst 20-10 loss in the history of the National Football League.
The only thing at the Linc that looked more colorless and slight than Kelly yesterday might have been his run-based offense, which totaled 7 yards on 17 carries in the most futile effort of the Kelly era - 15 carries for minus-2 yards on runs that weren't Sam Bradford scrambles.
In case you missed it: read through what other fans had to say as they watched the Dallas Cowboys defense dominate the fastest three-and-out offense in the NFL.
McManus starts his piece with an interview with Lane Johnson:
It's not like they didn't know what was coming, Johnson concluded. As was the case last week with the Falcons, the Cowboys' approach was what the Eagles were expecting based off film study. They just couldn't do anything about it.
"We knew what they were going to do. We knew they were going to slant. They're not overly-talented up front so that's the way they get by," he said.
They looked overly talented on Sunday. Of course, Lane, that could have been because we were comparing them to you and your linemates.
There's a large sign on the way from the Eagles' locker room to the field, lit up in neon: "Habits Reflect The Mission" it reads. At this point, the habits need improvement and the mission is imperiled. It's too early to write off a season or a head coach's chances, but it's too late in Kelly's career for this kind of failure in a home division game.
To add insult to, well, domination, even the goombahs in Vegas don't like the action in Philly:
After two weeks of the season BookMaker Sportsbook has Cowboys jumping ahead of the Eagles as the NFC East favorites. The Cowboys are +115 to win the division according to BookMaker, meaning every $100 bet on the Cowboys brings $115 worth of winnings if they do indeed win the division. The Eagles are +135.
At the beginning of the season, the Eagles were the favorites at +125 while the Cowboys were +140.
Mr. Gowton (a reasonable fellow who graced our podcast last week) offers up ten salient observations: Here's the one that never gets old:
8) Chip Kelly's general manager moves aren't looking so hot Maxwell has struggled Alonso is hurt. Bradford hasn't looked great. The neglected offensive line has struggled. Murray hasn't been able to run. It's still early, but Kelly's offseason moves haven't really been paying off so far. To make matters worse, Kelly has been getting outcoached.
|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.|