Monday, October 06, 2008

Week 5: Cowboys 31, Bengals 22

That was certainly a win in which you can find plenty to complain about. It was also certainly a win that gives you some pause for you big plans in late January/early February. During the 31-22 win against the winless Cincinnati Bengals, there was surely many items that will not be awarded the coveted “A+”.

Let’s all try to keep some perspective on things around here. Whether it be your QB or your team, let’s all remember the main objective every time an NFL team takes the field: WIN.

After that, we can certainly rate and debate the merits and style points of such a game, but remember, my good man, the name of the game. The Cowboys have played 5 games, won 4, and are right where they need to be.

Last week, feel free to be bitter. This week, try to remind yourself that the Bengals are paying their players, too. I am sure the Cowboys owe you an apology for not putting the game away before the 2 minute warning, but try to excuse them. This is a year in the NFL where form doesn’t seem to be holding very much (This week: Chargers, Packers, Eagles) and despite the lack of style points, they still put a game in the win column that was very much in doubt.

Breathe. If the Cowboys would have won by 74 yesterday, they were not going to be presented the Lombardi trophy. The name of the game in this league is Win and Stay Healthy. I believe yesterday received check marks in both columns.

Here are some thoughts and observations from a win at a fairly quiet and unimpressed Texas Stadium:

• Felix Jones is special. Is he more special than Chris Johnson who went 2 picks later to Tennessee? Or Rashard Mendenhall who went with the next pick and is now injured? Time will tell. But, there may not be 5 guys in the league who can take a pitch on 4th and 4 to the sideline and turn it into a Touchdown run where he goes completely untouched. His speed is sick, and it looks like they are trying to figure out different ways to use him. Through 5 games he scored 4 touchdowns. In fact, the only team to stop Felix so far is the Cowboys, when they decided not to give him the ball against the Washington Redskins in Week 4. But, I digress.

• Tony Romo was not good this week. He missed many throws and just did not look sharp. In fact, by his lofty standards, you could make the case that Romo has not looked sharp since the Philadelphia game. Of course, his season QB rating of 100.5 and his 11 TD passes against 5 INTs demonstrate how insanely high he has set the bar. Just a quick note to those who are killing him today: “+6” TD/INT ratio is very good. Brett Favre and Phillip Rivers are better so far, and that is it. It puts him on pace for about a “+19” which would be right there with his “+17” from 2007. Let me tell you again: Romo is not playing very well by Tony Romo standards. But this absurd idea that he is a reckless QB who does not pay off his risks with major rewards is rubbish. Do you honestly forget Vinny Testaverde, Quincy Carter, and the rest of the incapable holders of the QB position since Aikman? Yes, I will admit that he is not perfect. Now, will you admit that he is amongst the best QBs in the league?

• The Bengals-Cowboys game was the only time CBS held the rights to a Cowboys game this season. The other AFC team to visit the Cowboys will be the Baltimore Ravens and that game is scheduled to be a NFL Network game in December. So, if you are not a Phil Simms fan (and based on my email, it is more than just Dan that feels this way) then you will be happy to hear he will not call another Cowboys game until 2009.

• The Bengals will certainly be wondering about Carson Palmer today, right? With Palmer facing a 3rd and 6 right before the half, he had Chris Perry wide open in the right flat. For reasons I will never understand, he threw the ball about 10 feet over Perry’s head. If he makes what would have to be considered a fairly simple throw, the Bengals get a TD before the half and the game may have been a loss. He also missed Perry in the 3rd Quarter, one play before he did hit TJ Houshmandzadeh for a TD. Odd day for Palmer who is also a QB without a playoff victory, and yet seems to have far more credibility on a national level than Romo.

• I think Jay Ratliff is awesome. He is disruptive. He beats the man across from him. Why is that so rare with this defense? DeMarcus Ware has spoiled us, and finally someone is joining him with consistent playmaking. But, on a defense of 1st round picks, who would have thought it would be the 224th pick of the 2005 NFL draft? Ratliff is the reason why the guys like Marcus Spears – the 20th pick of the same draft - are disappointments. I guess you win some and you lose some on draft day. There is no question which member of the 2005 draft has been better for this Cowboys defense.

• The Cowboys converted another 60% on 3rd down which remains absurdly great. Given the fact that the Cowboys don’t use Wide Receivers anymore, you would think the opponent would be sure to cover Jason Witten. And yet, 3rd and 8, Romo hits Witten for another 1st down.

• Speaking of WR; Patrick Crayton is really not a part of the offense it seems. Miles Austin, too. The Cowboys are having a hard time getting the ball outside the numbers, and the last few opponents have made the Cowboys go right between the hash-marks to move the ball. That means plenty of balls to Witten, but nothing to the Wide Outs. At the half, the entire WR crew had 1 catch for 10 yards (Terrell Owens). That was it.

• By the way, Owens seems like he still hasn’t found what he is looking for. On one hand, he seems determined to be in the spotlight. And on the other hand, he seems miserable when the spotlight is too bright. To see him sit with the towel on his head after his TD and then listen to his post game speech suggested the guy is miserable with the part he plays. At the same time, doesn’t he learn? Doesn’t he realize that he is the master of his own destiny? If he doesn’t like the heat of the fire, then why does he continue to start fires? To me, it seems like life would be easier for him if he would stop and think things through. Stupidity is doing the same thing the same way over and over and expecting different results.

• DeMarcus Ware has sacks in 8 straight games. Given how he is game planned for, and the opposition chips him and double teams him, it simply demonstrates how dominant he is. I am very interested in how much his next contract will be. Dwight Freeney’s deal is the starting point.

• I know it is his legal name, but hearing my buddy, George Dunham, announce his name all day as “Chad Ocho Cinco” brought a smile to my face every single time. What a goofy dude. I guess we will never know what his TD celebration was going to be.

• Hurray! The Cowboys did not lose the turnover battle! They were even yesterday!

• At what point do we consider Terrence Newman injury prone?

• Keith Davis made a nice play to stop that 2-point conversion to Ben Utecht. I don’t think he is very good on defense, but let’s call a good play by its proper name.

• Back on the road for the Cowboys against the unpredictable Arizona Cardinals. The march continues into Week 6.


Lancerdfw said...

Regarding Carson Palmer, the guy is coming off of an elbow injury that caused him to miss last week's game. So I think we can give him a pass for some of his bad throws yesterday.

Josh said...

What are Ware's chances to be defensive player of the year? Does it hurt his chances if the defense around him continues to give up 22.2 ppg? It's great to see him remain at such a high level, but the guys behind him in the secondary need to start playing with the same energy.

Don't know what is wrong with Owens. Don't think anyone but Owens knows what's wrong with Owens.

Feed Felix! Not only is he great for this offense, but he's exciting to watch.

Sean said...

Sports Sturm,

A decidedly average game from the Dallas defense. Again we are faced with mixed results from a defense without Roy Williams. No big deep plays and no big plays or touchdowns to the opponents TE's. But the defense still allows the opposition to move the chains at a clip that is far too great if they want to contend in the NFC. It does appear, however, that the secondary pass defense is slightly upgraded without Roy in the mix. Take away the big plays on Newman last week against Washington and I think this would be even clearer. I have to admit that the Cards next week look like a difficult out with the way this defense is playing, especially if Tony Romo keeps his tunnel vision on Jason Witten to convert third downs. I know he trusts Jason, but he's got to distribute the ball around the field to make all of his weapons more powerful. He cannot force it to Witten or TO. Throw it underneath to Barber or Crayton or Austin or Hurd. He doesn't do that enough, despite them running free, and I think that is why he has appeared or seemed not his usual self the last two weeks.

Bill Mullen said...

The Redskins are 2-1 in the division with all three remaining division games at home. The Giants look to be in mid-season form and the Cowboys are winning ugly against the Bengals. Just sayin...