Monday, October 22, 2007
Well, that was certainly not the “Get back on track” game that we envisioned, but it was a win with a strong second half, and therefore acceptable. Some injury scares appear to have put the Cowboys on vacation at just the right time. Minnesota has some real fine players, but some real odd elements at work, telling me that Tavaris Jackson and possibly, Brad Childress are not long for this world.
Meanwhile, the Boys are 6-1 at the bye week. I cannot stress how great that is. 4 or 5 wins in 9 games the rest of the way gets you to 10 or 11 wins. 6-3 gets you a division title at 12-4. The Cowboys have certainly set themselves up for some home football in the playoffs for the first time since the turn of the millennium.
The following are notes and observations from a Week 7 win at Texas Stadium:
• We talked in the pregame show about the Cowboys ability to not get carved up since the big time back s in this league. Since switching to the anti-run 3-4 defense, only Larry Johnson in 2005 can say he just dominated the Cowboys on the ground. A few others in 2006, Deuce McAllister and Tiki Barber, broke 100 yards but nobody has really approached 100 in 2007. The idea is that the 3-4 is set up to be extremely difficult to turn the flanks on. So, a running back has to just shoot between the tackles, and that runs them into the jaws of your personnel. Adrian Peterson looked promising early, including that nice Touchdown run, but ended up with just 63 yards. You can throw on the Cowboys, but I am not sure you can run on them anymore.
• Anyone else extremely concerned about Tony Romo’s health yesterday? In every QB’s career, they are faced with playing extremely poorly (Buffalo) and playing while injured (Minnesota). For Dallas to put both of those wins In the bank despite those less-than-perfect standards, I think is telling that this team has
some real potential.
• Speaking of telling, Romo has one of the great poker “tells” in his game right now. I think it must be bait for down the road, but when he audibles at the line, and spends a long time shouting and gesturing to his Wide-outs, it is always a run. He sells and sells that he is trying to get a message to Owens and Crayton, and look at the tape; EVERY time it is a run. I hope he knows he is doing it, because I had a perfect record yesterday guessing the play.
• I have now seen Tavaris Jackson twice in person . He has thrown for 122 yards combined in those two games. He looks lost. He looks confused. He looks like he has almost no promise. I remember on draft day in 2006, people were accusing the Vikings of a tremendous reach when they grabbed Jackson in the 2nd round. I think they are realizing that they have made a huge mistake. I would be shocked if he starts 3 more games in Minnesota. The good news is for the Vikings, add a mediocre QB (Jeff Garcia, Chad Pennington, Derek Anderson) in the off-season, and they aren’t very far away from being a contender in the NFC.
• Patrick Crayton has really developed nicely this season. He had 6 catches in the first 3 games, and 20 in the last 4. But, a few things trouble me, not the least of which is his ball security. That dude holds the ball out dangerously on a regular basis. He is begging to fumble with the reckless way he hangs the ball out in traffic. Well, it happened yesterday, ironically when he had the ball put away pretty well, as Antoine Winfield stripped and turned it into a Touchdown after the Cedric Griffin return. He has got to protect that ball. It is a lesson all WR’s need to learn, and it is his turn.
• It sure looks like the Cowboys are their own worst enemy. If it isn’t turnovers, it is penalties, but the real observation is that this offense never looks dominated by its opponent, does it? They can stop themselves, but I am not too sure their opponent can stop them.
• Chris Canty > Marcus Spears. Heck, Jason Hatcher might > Marcus Spears.
• Where was Darren Sharper going on Owens Touchdown? I thought he was doing his Roy Williams tribute, because Sharper is usually money as a free safety. Yesterday wasn’t his best effort.
• Proving once again that all the talk all week long generally signifies nothing, the Cowboys drive right down the field on their first possession and score. Without Barber, and in the 1st Quarter. Then, they do not do anything offensively until halftime. The more you know, the less you know.
• Incidentally, in case anyone thinks that may have changed my mind on Jones/Barber. No. I would still start Barber, and still give him the majority of the carries. Why are we treating Julius Jones like he is some Emmitt-caliber legend who deserves the dignity and respect of a true Cowboys legend? He is obviously a starter in name only. When this team needs a yard, it goes to MB3. They both get chances every game to impress, and I cannot remember the last time I didn’t think 24 was better than 21. And yet, the Cowboys seem stubborn to adjust here. I am not saying Jones is awful, but he is the 2nd best back the Cowboys have right now, and I am not sure it is even close. Barber 19 carries, Jones 9. It is happening.
• Greg Ellis + DeMarcus Ware = pressure on the QB. Anthony Spencer must be wondering what he did wrong, but really, he did nothing wrong. In fact, Spencer has been playing his best ball of the season, but now that Ellis is back, there is no doubt in my mind who gives you the best chance at OLB. Ellis is really looking good against the run and pass.
• Chris Canty received a big push in the butt from Bobby Carpenter on the blocked FG. So, yes, Carpenter has contributed recently. That was the play of the game, and Canty turned that contest right there, looking like Superman. He also had a chance to change the games moments earlier when he had Chester Taylor 3 yards deep in the end-zone for an obvious safety. That tells you that he is showing up on film. Plenty.
• Mark Colombo may be coming back to earth. Penalties and Sacks are not a good combination. Udeze just about broke Romo a time or two, and as I could tell, #75 white was to blame.
• In a roundtable during the game consisting of George Dunham, Cowboys Scout Chris Hall, and Sports Me, it was decided that Brad Childress greatly resembles Sesame Street Great, Mr. Noodle. Upon researching Mr Noodle, It should be noted, that he is no longer with us. Sorry to bring the room down.
• Seriously, what is Childress doing with Peterson? I know you want to bring him along slowly, but he is out of the game more than he is in the game. It is actually shocking to watch. #28 is the only player that really scares you on that offense, and yet they seem to put him in the game less than half the time. I keep thinking of Mickey reminding me that AP has a clause that kicks in if he plays in 45% of the Vikings snaps, and cannot believe the Vikings are that petty, but I am starting to wonder. By the way, didn't you kind of wonder if Peterson was about to break one 99 yards? Dorsett revisited.
• Terrell Owens had a nice game. He made a few real tough catches, and that is more like it from him. Also, the Cowboys had him moved around quite a bit. Even once, he was back at RB. Another time, the Julius Jones was lined up outside him, and Minnesota forgot to cover him. But, Romo missed the chance to hit an easy big one.
• Patrick Watkins return of the FG for a TD was the first since Ron Fellows in 1983? Wow. Time flies when we are having fun.
• Think Jacques Reeves got faked out by Troy Williamson in the 4th Quarter on the only pass completion of substance for Tavaris? Tavaris was 6-19. Wow.
• Well, take a break. Get Romo and Adams some rest, Get Henry back, and then prepare for the divisional battles ahead at Philadelphia, at New York, and Washington here. Wow. 3 straight wars taking you to Thanksgiving. This is about to get good.