Monday, December 17, 2007
When the Philadelphia Eagles come to Dallas with a 5-8 record, and play a team who is 12-1 on a game the only means anything to the Cowboys, THIS should not happen. I didn’t see it coming, that is for darn sure.
But, guess what? THIS did happen. And now some are reaching for the panic button. I think that is highly premature. But, still, yesterday’s loss to the Eagles will bring back memories of December swoons of the Parcells’ Era, and will make this week’s countdown to the Panthers a long, difficult week of questions, injury concerns, and over-reactions. Such is life when you lose a home game and don’t even score a Touchdown. And to do it all to those stinking Eagles….Well, you feel the pain this morning. The following are the notes and accounts of a puzzling loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Texas Stadium:
· If we are going to go on and on about the greatness of Tony Romo, then we certainly should demonstrate that we are willing to criticize him on his bad days. He was awful. Awful in the 1st half, then he went in to the locker-room, made some adjustments, and then was just as bad in the 2nd half. You cannot blame the thumb, as that was hurt in the 2nd Half, although the thumb looked bad when the ball slipped out of his hand. He still had his Jedi magic when the interception was fumbled right back to the Cowboys, and all of his fumbles were recovered by his own guys, but his throws were inaccurate, late, and at times, poorly conceived. One week after the entire Wide Receiving unit combined for just 8 catches in Detroit, they combined for just 4 against the Eagles. Can you believe that? 4 catches for Owens (2), Crayton (2), Hurd, and Austin? Since he looked like a magician against Green Bay, Romo has had a pretty difficult time finding his wide outs. Are they being played differently by the oppositions? Sure. But, I am beginning to question the “Unstoppable” label that we had assigned to this offense, as the dump offs to Witten and Barber will always be there, but maybe the home runs are stoppable with some proper defense.
· Let’s all think a good thought about Andre Gurode. He needs to be fine. I think he will be, but when he left the game, it was sack after sack on Romo. It looked like the Cowboys plan was to help Cory Procter with Leonard Davis. Then, the Eagles saw that, and stunted rushers right past Davis if he did help Procter. This resulted in a full-scale confusion level for the Cowboys offense. So, give Jim Johnson plenty of credit for that. The bottom line is that the Cowboys have been very fortunate to enjoy great health with the offensive line in 2006 and 2007. We shall see if that good fortune continues through Andre’s MRI today, but if not, the Cowboys are going to need to prepare to carry on without.
· Jason Garrett has been everyone’s hero all season long. But, like Romo, a day like yesterday has us all wondering about Garrett’s decision making as well. Did you know the Cowboys called 12 straight pass plays yesterday after cutting the lead to 7-6 in the late stages of the 3rd Quarter? I thought the game really called for a strong dose of Marion Barber, especially given how poorly Romo was throwing the ball. And, once the Eagles demonstrated their pass rush could get to Romo, the Cowboys needed to run the ball right down the throat of the Eagles (like they did in Philly), but it never happened.
· As for the Eagles offense, they have little more than Brian Westbrook. McNabb still has something, but I am not sure what it is. I think the Eagles would be crazy to send him away, as Kevin Kolb may or may not be able to hold his jock, but McNabb has some very weak throws. In fact, if he could hit his receivers in the stomach as opposed to the top of their shoes, they might get some run after the catch. But his throws were consistently low and this ended plays at the catch.
· Does Roy Williams try to entertain us with his inability to tackle without employing the horse collar? Because it is beyond disconcerting, annoying, or bothersome. It has now made its way to flat out comedic. Here is a guy who has made his living in the game of football for years, has been chastised for years, and yet cannot help himself.
· Is it just me or did the Eagles start nearly every drive beyond the 35, and the Cowboys started nearly every drive at around their 18?
· The Cowboys pass rush appears to be the real deal. When they put the package in of Ware, Ellis, Spencer, Ratliff, and Hatcher, they can get to anyone. Then, they don’t have to even consider an additional blitzer, so you have 6 guys in coverage making holes in the defense fairly rare. This is what befuddled the Packers, who feed off blitzes. If there are not any, then you have problems.
· Is Terrell Owens not being utilized the same way? What happened to motion to find the right matchup? What happened to lining him up in the backfield? I know the defense wants to take him away, but you cannot give in. Make no mistake, he is the reason you are unstoppable on offense, so you must find ways to keep him on the minds of the safeties.
· AJ Feely’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for getting in the referee’s path on the sideline was something you don’t see very often.
· DeMarcus Ware is a pleasure to watch every week. I think his sacks are obvious, but do you notice how great he is at holding up the corner with leverage against the tackle that allows him to pounce to the corner and still stop Westbrook? He is too strong and too quick for anyone in this league to handle. What a stud.
· Jay Ratliff looked like a guy proving he deserved his contract. Well done.
· I will be interested in the NFL’s ruling on the Ken Hamlin big hit on Matt Schobel. It looked like a big fine at first, but then you could see Hamlin try to keep his helmet out of the mix by turning his neck and pretty much getting all jaw in the process. That was a nasty example of why playing football for a living is not good for your health.
· I watched the game in the booth next to the Eagles coaches yesterday. Most of the opposing coaches block the windows to keep curious eyeballs out of the room (like me). But, the Eagles showed no concern over my eyes as I tried to slyly look at the papers on the desk. There for my eyes to see were their first 15 plays. Before it happened, I saw that #9 was the Flea Flicker play, and I kid you not, there on the page for me to see was “84 Flea-flicker”. So, in this high-tech espionage world of professional football, they actually called the Flea Flicker the Flea Flicker. I was disappointed there was no code.
· Jessica Simpson. Where to begin? How about this: She wants to be seen. Tony, she doesn’t love you, she loves the cameras. She is Eva Longoria. Run! Run! Or, at least make her stay home. I apologize, but I had to get this on the notes.
· Well, the 1.5 game advantage on the Packers is now .5. Some how, the Packers have hung with the Cowboys all season long, and may force the Cowboys to win out to retain the homefield advantage. The bad news is both games are on the road. The good news is that both teams have backup QB’s playing. I would say to hope that the Redskins are eliminated before Week 17. If they win in Minnesota next Sunday night, the playoffs will be riding on that Cowboys game. I don’t think you want to be in that situation if you can avoid it. Despite the bump in the road, the Cowboys still control their entire destiny. Don’t screw this up.