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Game 3 Analysis: Cowboys-Bucs

September 24, 2012

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This weekend I went to a bachelor party. At one point at around 6 am Saturday morning my body woke me up (from a pretty light sleep as I had crashed only minutes earlier) and decided it needed to throw up a ton of alcohol and an undigested soft shell crab Po Boy that had been sitting in there since about 7pm the night before. It was something that was needed and in the end was a positive but it sure didn’t make me feel too good at the time. I had a similar feeling one day later when watching the Cowboys beat the Bucs as I was about as unhappy as you can be after watching a Cowboy’s win. The barrage of penalties continued (this time with 13 penalties to bump the Cowboys average up to 10.3 penalties per game after 3 games), the shocking number of drops from Jason Witten was extended (leads league by a large margin), and the Cowboys offensive line once again was dominated by a defensive line few previously considered impressive. It all should have added up to a loss and a bunch of finger pointing yet luckily the Cowboys were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s time people begin questioning whether Jason Garrett deserves to continue as head coach of the Cowboys as the offense is about as dysfunctional as it can be yet for at least one more week those questions won’t surface if only because he clearly outcoached his counterpart in Greg Schiano. Greg has being outcoached every week this season and looks like a person that is in over his head which makes a bit of sense considering he’s moving up from the Big East, one of the weaker conferences in college football AND one he didn’t exactly dominate, to the NFL. It was a strange hire at the time and there will likely be plenty of second guessing in Tampa as he made decision after decision that had people scratching their head. With around 3 minutes left in the game and down two scores two of his first 3 plays were runs up the middle? After going 3 and out on that drive and with around 2 minutes left in the game, still down 2 scores, he sent the punt team out? With Dallas running out the clock with under a minute to go he let +10 seconds run off before calling his last timeout? It all gave the impression that Greg wasn’t prepared for these scenarios ahead of time and was hurting his team’s chances for victory. Sunday’s game will provide a little cover for Garrett to right his offense but unless there is a leaps and bounds improvement in the near future this season could be sunk by an offense that has a lot of potential but very little production. The Bucs were burned for 606 yards and 41 points just last week by the Giants yet against the Cowboys they fared much better holding them to 297 yards and only 16 points. While it is early in the season and an argument can be made that the Giants game was an aberration the game had too many instances of missed chances and poor individual performances for me to give too much credit to the Bucs defense. The interior line of the Cowboys is an absolute mess right now and allowed Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett 2 sacks apiece. McCoy is a former Top 5 pick who has been stringing together a few quality performances lately so that one can be understood but Bennett only had 6 sacks in his career going into yesterday so to get 2 in one game, along with 4 tackles and a batted ball at the line of scrimmage, is quite worrisome. Next week the offensive line will be facing a Julius Peppers led defensive line that is coming off a dominant performance against the Rams holding them to a measly 160 yards, 6 points, and 2.9 yards per play! Garrett needs to find a way to jump start the running game (28th in the league in rushing yards), cut down on the penalties, reduce the number of times the offense finds themselves in 3rd and long (5x they were 3rd and 15 or more!) and reduce the number of hits Romo takes or the Cowboys will find themselves at 2-2 after a part of the schedule that wasn’t very tough and appeared even easier with the unexpected win against the Giants in the opener. The silver lining of the game was clearly the defense as they stifled Josh Freeman throughout and the secondary continued to look like a unit that could dominate in the near future. Brandon Carr playing a Charles Woodson like role switching seamlessly from cornerback to safety and then back again was one built out of necessity (ACL tear of Barry Church) yet one that could payoff down the line as it would allow Claiborne and Jenkins to be on the field more often with Carr. Rob Ryan has been to the defense the exact opposite of what Jason Garrett has been to the offense as Ryan has a motivated, disciplined, and smart defense that makes plays in the passing game and shuts down running games. It’s a defense that is getting the most out of it’s talent and one that could possibly be asked to carry the team this year. The fact that the offense has so many high priced names on it makes it weird that this year’s team could be so defensive oriented but Romo won’t be healthy much longer if hit like he was Sunday and a Kyle Orton led offense would surely take a significant drop in production. The win against the Bucs was helpful for the Cowboys just like throwing up was helpful for my stomach but the next time around I think everyone would agree that instead of going through such a bad experience again it’d be easier if the Cowboys just started playing better and I drank a little less next time. Otherwise Romo and I probably won’t be able to take too many more of these weekends.

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