Let's look at some other observations and thoughts on the first win at Cowboys Stadium of the year for the Cowboys:
* There is a football cliche that I enjoy and think is somewhat appropriate for the rookie year of Dez Bryant: "It isn't about the X's and O's, it's about the Jimmys and Joes." There is a time in football where scheme can present you with match-ups and opportunities and you can take advantage. There are other times when a player is so dominant that the same situation with a lesser player is not a similar opportunity. But, when you see Dez Bryant out there and try a fade, it goes from being a so-so chance to being taking candy from a baby. He is amazing and the arrow continues to point up. By the way, the cliche also fits for the offensive line. Call any play you want, but if Kyle Kosier cannot contain Corey Williams for a split second - enough for a RB to run past - then it doesn't matter which play you call. The Jimmys and Joes cannot block the man in front of them. That isn't scheme. That is players. Dez is quickly demanding more than an appropriate amount of coverage. And when that happens, then we will see further opportunities elsewhere on the field for Mile Austin, Roy Williams, and Jason Witten. That fade was just another example of a young man playing like a 5 year veteran.
* Detroit is somehow 8-70 on the road since 2001. Ponder that for a second. It doesn't seem possible. What's more, did you happen to see the rest of the graphic? They are 15 road wins behind the next worst road team during that stretch. Almost 2 wins a season behind Arizona, San Francisco, and Oakland! Lions football has certainly been in a rebuild mode since the retirement of Barry Sanders. And frankly, even when Sanders, Herman Moore, and the rest of the 1990's Lions were there, it was not much of a dynasty. Maybe the curse of Bobby Layne lives. I really think they are doing good things up there, and anyone who doesn't appreciate Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson, and some of their other kids doesn't appreciate football. But, what a culture of losing Jim Schwartz is trying to eradicate. Easier said than done. They had a great chance to win this game, but they are wondering how they are going to lose each road trip rather than how are they going to win. It is a tough ship to turn around.
* Amidst all of the activity yesterday were the whispers that Tony Romo has started throwing and will receive further medical examinations today to determine the timetable for his return next month. Allow me to ask the obvious question: WHY? Why would you rush your QB back for a season that is long gone in terms of short term gains? Assuming Kitna does put you back in playoff contention, why would you then yank him out when he has the hot hand? Why? Why would you hold a roster spot for Romo when you could put him on the IR and use his roster spot (along with Sean Lissemore) to further raid practice squads and try to find more hidden gems like Bryan McCann? It makes no sense on any level. This is where a General Manager should step in and take the decision away from an interim coach and a QB who wants to get back on the field. I wish someone could sell me on why rushing my QB back from a broken collarbone makes sense when the record is 3-7 in a conference where this morning 6 teams already have 7 wins. The math just doesn't compute.
* The Cowboys may be playing better football under Jason Garrett, but let's not take our eyes off the reality that this offensive line is in a deep state of decline. Kyle Kosier, Marc Colombo, and Leonard Davis all had extremely poor days yesterday, and all are candidates for replacement moving forward. Kosier has been better than Davis and Colombo when he has been on the field this year, but his downfall is his health this season. However, yesterday, because Suh needed a constant double team from Andre Gurode and Davis, Kosier was locked up in a 1-on-1 with Corey Williams for much of the day. That didn't go well. Meanwhile, the right side of the OL has been in tatters all season. I wish we could blame health issues, but age decline seems to be the proper diagnosis here. It is not easy to replace a full side of your line in one off season, but it sure looks like it needs to happen posthaste.
* As we further examine what Garrett is all about, we look at his decisions closely. Should he have taken a knee at the end of the 1st half? Should he have declined Anthony Spencer's sack late in the 1st Quarter? Spencer had a sack on 1st and 10, in which there was also a holding penalty also called. For some reason, the Cowboys walked off the 10 yards and allowed the Lions to repeat 1st Down. In my estimation, against a team that passes all of the time, I would rather have them face 2nd and 16 at the Cowboys 39 than 1st and 20 at the Dallas 43. But, Garrett was very determined to decline the sack, most likely to try to drive the Lions further out of Field Goal range. I feel like a down is more valuable than 4 yards there, but he didn't. Interesting decision. Also, I imagine players hate it when a coach declines a sack. Not that we should make decisions for Anthony Spencer's personal agenda, but given that sacks are pretty rare, taking that off the record might be another consideration on some level.
* Gerald Sensabaugh is not good in coverage. Alan Ball is not good in coverage either. This is a major issue in the NFL where teams like the Saints and Colts want to spread you out and make everyone cover someone. We saw on one drive yesterday what happens when Sensabaugh has to cover Nate Burleson because of a blitz as they present Shaun Hill an easy chance to gain 58 yards. Then, two plays later, a play action fake gets Sensabaugh sucked forward which leaves Terence Newman exposed and an easy pitch and catch with Megatron in the end zone. Calvin Johnson cannot be left on a powerless PA pass fake. In my humble estimation, the Cowboys might need 2 more safeties moving forward. Somewhere, Roy Williams is laughing at how the safety position has actually gone worse since he has gone. OK, maybe not worse, but not any better.
* I hate to be the old man here, but using a player's hair to make a tackle seems like something that was bound to happen. For the refs not to know how to call that scenario seems highly unlikely. I know all of our fathers were quietly pleased that someone was tackled by their dreads. You surely don't need to make yourself easier to tackle, do you? Anyway, it was bound to happen, but the flag actually ruined the moment a bit for the old schoolers.
* Play of the game that nobody is discussing? How about a 3rd and 15 early in the 4th Quarter for the Cowboys from the 29 yard line and Dallas clinging to a 21-19 lead. The Cowboys call a play from an unbalanced formation with Colombo outside of Free on the left side of the line, and then from shotgun hand it off to Barber. Somehow, this works like a charm and they turn a 3rd and 15 run play into a +24 for Barber. This takes the FG out of the equation (how do you feel about Buehler from 46 yards?) and puts a Touchdown back in play. Miles Austin catches the ball 4 plays later in the end zone and the Touchdown puts the lead to 28-19. Pivotal play for the offense that is under the radar.
* I enjoy second guessing play-calling as much as the next guy, but I cannot call out Jason Garrett on the Felix Jones fumble. If you cannot trust your Running Back to run a simple play up the middle and assume that he knows enough to secure the ball in this spot on the field in that spot in the game, then you might have the wrong RB back there. This is the NFL. I understand that every time a play doesn't work that some will call out the play caller and not the players, but not me in this case. Secure the ball or the NFL will mean "Not For Long".
* Tashard Choice finally got a real chance to play a bit in the 3rd Quarter and did a nice job on the first Touchdown to Austin on a blitz pickup that made the throw possible. A very nice job by Choice to contribute when called upon.
Short week, so it is back to work quickly to prepare for a Saints team that will not be so forgiving and generous on Thanksgiving Day.