Dallas Cowboys – Week 3

Dallas fandom probably expected the slaughter the Boys put on last Sunday, but a few people had St Louis poised for the win, or at least a closer game.
 

At 1-1, two teams with the same record could not be more different. Rams fans were glad to be 1-1 after finishing under .500 last year, despite a close win against the weak Cardinals. The Cowboys, on the other hand came into the season with expectations at almost their highest in a decade, and are frustrated with a 1-1 start, despite the 1-point loss being in Arrowhead Stadium (right behind Seattle and New Orleans in stadium noise) against a KC team that is dominating the League through Week 3.

Supposedly the half-roofs are angled to "aim" crowd noise at the field. The Engineer in me finds this claim dubious.

Supposedly the half-roofs are angled to “aim” crowd noise at the field. The Engineer in me finds this claim dubious.

Why Dallas Won

If Dallas has one consistency over the last couple years, it has been the need of balance to the offense. When the running game works, Romo can throw the ball like nobody’s business. When it doesn’t, defenses blitz more, which means they get more sacks, which (generally) means the Cowboys lose.

Murray, doin' waht he do.

Murray, doin’ what he do.

Last time they played, Murray lit up the Rams defense, with a franchise-record 253 yards. This week wasn’t too different, Murray “only” rushed for 175, and as a result, Romo went 17/24 without a single pick, leaving him with only 1 for the season, which is saying something, because his INTs are above average for a guy of his caliber.

Pro-ToRo Sidebar: The biggest Anti-Romo tactic is throwing out the interception numbers, like the fiver against the Bears. BUT, I call say it shows selflessness, and balls guts of steel. When most QBs are down by multiple scores too late in the game, they get conservative, and take less risks.

Romo takes more. He goes for bigger plays, bigger gains, and takes huge risks. As a result, sometimes you end up with a 5-pick game. Other times, you end up with ONLY THE BEST PASSER RATING IN THE NFL.

Numbers never lie. Especially when those numbers are delivered by non-politicians.

Numbers never lie. Especially when those numbers are delivered by non-politicians.

Fact is, Eli Manning may be the Clutch QB icon of popular opinion, but nobody in the NFL today is rated higher than Romo in the final 15 minutes. Second place is Aaron Rogers, with a 97 compared to Romo’s 102. Eli? 84.6.  His winning %age in game-winning drives is THIRD among active QBs behind Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. Rant over.

The Defense was good as ever, with a shutout all the way into the second half, and even holding the Rams to under 10 yards in the first half! With so few yards, its no surprise the Rams couldn’t muster a first down either. And sacks everywhere! Ware became the Franchise Sack Leader with 115.

Why St. Louis Lost

As much as I’d love to say they lost simply because they’re the Rams, there are actually people out there who disagree with that logic. (Shocking, isn’t it?) And really, Bradford put up some not-terrible statistics considering they couldn’t get across the yellow line all first half; 29/48 (.604, meh) for 240 yards (more than Romo’s 210) and no interceptions at all.

The damning stat column for the Rams Offense is the number of sacks. St. Louis hadn’t allowed one in its last 3 games, but allowed 6 last week, for a total of 43 yards lost. 43 yards is 4 first downs, which is equal to a drive at least within FG range. Another bad one for the Rams last week was 3rd down efficiency. It wasn’t just bad, it was terrible, only converting once, of 13 tries. Yikes.

Why I’m Still Worried

Sure, Dallas got the win, there was just too much talent on the payroll to lose back-to-back this early in the season but there definitely a few areas of concern:
Penalties. Dallas gave up 72 yards on 6 penalties. That’s a whole drive down the field!
3rd down efficiency, sure it isn’t the Rams’ 1/13 (eesh) but 5-11 is still below .500, and this team still wastes the first two downs too often to keep that up.

Water Cooler Statistic Of The Week & Why I’m Not Worried:
The NFC East is 1-7 over the last two weekends. Which means the Cowboys could keep up the mediocrity and still win the division. Wow.

Even Jim Mora can talk about those playoff chances.

Even Jim Mora can talk about those playoff chances.

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Dallas Cowboys – Week 2

I couldn’t figure out what to call this, Week 1/2 ? No that’s one half. Week 1 & 2? No, that’s just 3. So I skipped over what may become the best win of the season. Possible Week 1 recap around Giants-Cowboys rematch time.
Classic line-of-scrimmage shot. Gotta love it.
 

Consistently Inconsistent. (Getcha’ Soapbox Ready)

Rant time.
The ‘Boys, over the last ten years, may very well be the most hit-and-miss, off-and-on, hot-and-cold team I’ve ever seen play football. At least at the professional level. I expect this crap from 2A Junior Varisty. They have always maintained a well-loaded roster in terms of talent:

Tony Romo – Usually an “on the bubble” guy in the “Elite QB” discussion, but I still say the best we can do. (A fandom-splitting issue I’ll address soon, Romo Haters look out.) In short, you can’t ignore the numbers, #5 All-Time QB Rating, #4 among active players, behind Brady, Rogers, Manning. He is posting the same numbers as those guys.

With more success than any other QB-TE combo in history, they're pretty much BFFLs now.

With more success than any other QB-TE combo in history, they’re pretty much BFFLs now.

Jason Witten – Future. Hall. Of. Famer. THE single pillar of consistency in the Dallas Cowboys franchise, old reliable. Need a quick pass for a few yards? Witten. Pressure’s coming, looking for a quick target? Witten. Really need a first down, but AHH – they’re blitzing?! Jason Witten. An exception in the inconsistency issue.

Terrell Owens/Miles Austin/Dez Bryant – You just can’t replace ol’ 88, Michael Irvin, but the Boys have tried, and succeeded. The Cowboys were not missing the “star receiver” character for very long. In fact, if Miles can stay healthy, and Dez can keep up the pace, we may even have two.

Look famiiar? (Credit: The Guardian, this picture is a bit before my time)

Look familiar? (Credit: The Guardian, this picture is a bit before my time)

Julius Jones/Marion Barber/Felix Jones/DeMarco Murray – Maybe it’s the franchise’s proximity to many schools that once held the title of “Tailback U” but they’ve always had strong talent at this position, and often, strong performance. I mean, Murray holds 5 School Records from his career at OU, after taking the job from ADRIAN PETERSON.

Auburn, Texas, Southern Methodist, Oklahoma St.

Auburn, Texas, Southern Methodist, and Oklahoma State University

Demarcus Ware – Another Canton-bound player on the current squad, the defensive cornerstone, the fastest, fiercest, (and one of the oldest) defenders in the game. 111 sacks, 7x Pro Bowler. A beast.

The list, truly, goes on for miles. In the last 10 seasons, the Cowboys have accounted for 62 of the ~600 Pro Bowl selections, from 21 different players, an avg. of 6 players/year, and about 10% of the NFL total. (Note: there are 32 teams)

All this to say, we have had a talented ensemble of athletes over the last decade, with only a handful of playoff appearances, and ONE single, lonely, sole playoff win to show for it.

The 2013 Dallas Cowboys

To somewhat quote T.Boone Pickens, “The most important question is, what are the [Dallas] Cowboys doing now?”

Week 1, like Week 1 2012, was fantastic. A game full of mistakes, yes, but we ultimately played better than Eli & The Giants, and that’s what matters. 1-0

This week, we played above expectations (at least, above mine) and better than the Chiefs. And still lost. Why? The same reason the Cowboys have lost just about every other game in the Post-Campo era: inconsistency.

The first half had me ecstatic; never in my life had I seen healthy receivers, a solid OL, and a top-of-his-game Romo on the field at the same time. Romo was getting about 4 seconds to throw the ball, and since a general rule for passers is to chuck it at 3, that’s pretty dang impressive.

Credit: Football Outsiders

Credit: Football Outsiders

Playmaker of the first half honors, and really of the day, go to Oklahoma State alumnus Dez The-Next-Terrell-Owens Bryant.

Remember this? *sigh*

Remember this? *sigh*

His on-the-field behavior was FINALLY more noteworthy than his actions off-the-field. Made some fantastic catches, but he was wearing a Dallas jersey, which meant he was plagued with inconsistency; one great play was recalled because of terrible Offensive Pass Interference call, and his single drop of the day came when the Offense needed it most – a 40+ yard toss on 3rd down at a time when the Cowboys were desperate for big play.

Sidebar: Yes, both the Dez Bryant Offensive Pass Interference call, and the 4th quarter Defensive PI call against Dallas were both terrible, but I do not blame them because I firmly believe as I heard once, “Good teams don’t rely on good calls to win games.”

Bad teams, however, DO rely on bad calls to win games.

Bad teams, however, DO rely on bad calls to win games.

 

Number-Crunching

  • Romo completed 71% of the time, to Alex Smith’s 58%, while avg. 6.2 yd/play when passing to the Chiefs’ 5 yd/play
  • More love for #88, Dez had 9 catches for 141 yds, about as many as KCs top 3 WRs combined.
  • The Dallas Defense nailed 4 sacks, while Romo was relatively well-protected in he first half, but was sacked 3 times in the game.
  • The penalty-prone days of the OL seem to have left with Flozell Adams, (Adams and Doug Free combined for around 1.3 penalties per game in ’12, ’11, and ’10) the Cowboys had only 5 for 27 yards, half as many as the Chiefs.
  • Red Zone Efficiency – Bad. 1 of 2 doesn’t sound terrible, but in a defensive battle like this one, you can’t make it all the way inside the 10 and settle for 3.
    Dallas 1/2, KC 2/2, and as a result, the most important statistic:

Dallas 16, Kansas City 17.

Romo sad. :(

Hopefully, I won’t be using this again for a while.

Unrelated Water Cooler Statistic of the Week – Over his career, Tony Romo is 21-11 (.656) record after a loss, 14-6 (.700) when that loss is a road game, 2-0 when that loss is in Week 2, and 1-0 in games after playing Kansas City.