Let’s look at some other random observations from that night to forget at Lambeau:
* The running game continues to dazzle in its inability to execute even the simplest of tasks. The 3rd and short effort when the Cowboys tried to scheme the Packers into thinking that Felix Jones might take an end around and that Tashard Choice might take a pitch wide was unable to fool anyone when Marion Barber was given the ball for the FB dive. The impact when Clay Matthews came through the line and destroyed Barber’s effort was shocking with its speed and violence. Matthews is certainly a talent, but you can try to make his job just slightly more difficult if you account for and block him rather than what happened. I am not sure what Jason Witten was supposed to do on that play, but that can’t be what the plan was. Also, on 3rd and short, is it time to run out the unbalanced line to Matthews side? If he can destroy Leonard Davis, he should not have much trouble with a tight end.
* Bryan McCann has the chance to be a find it appears. Already in one game, the Cowboys kickoff return team looked far more dangerous than they had the entire first 2 months of the season. In coverage, it looks like he may have some things to figure out, but special teams are so very important and he seems to have knack for finding a seam and staying alive on returns. I just don’t feel Akwasi Owusu-Ansah has shown me that he has unique returns instincts, and I am more than happy to look elsewhere.
* No player confuses and frustrates me quite like Mike Jenkins. In 2008, Orlando Scandrick played much better than him despite being a 5th Rounder and Jenkins came at the cost of a 1st Rounder. In 2009, Mike Jenkins was clearly this team's best cornerback and it appeared Terence Newman was no longer the strongest CB on the squad. Now, in 2010, it is difficult to argue that he doesn't represent "low hanging fruit" for the opposing QB. They attack and attack and attack and nothing bad seems to happen. In fact, the NFL is passing for a 109 rating against the Cowboys every week in a league where the average QB throws at a 83 rating.
* Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton do not always pass protect well. The Cowboys only chance to get a win last night was a dominant effort from DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Spencer joins Jenkins on the list of players who we thought had arrived last December and that moving forward they would be absolute pillars and foundation blocks on the defense. Instead, there are stretches where Spencer is just not any better than a warm body on the flank. The Cowboys simply need more from him.
* Not to sound like a broken record, but the Cowboys cannot run the football out of their base offense (under center). In fact, it now looks like teams sense the lack of confidence in this running game and almost load up the box with defenders to demoralize the base offense even more. I am happy to complain about a lack of commitment to the running game when it is appropriate but nobody in their right mind can want to see more running right now. Nothing is more of a punch in the gut than to see a perfect 1st and 10 situation develop into a 2nd and 13. They are honestly to a point where nobody on the entire sideline believes that they can run the ball anymore.
* That challenge situation in the first half was beyond amazing and borderline comical. They waste a timeout in the 1st Quarter when they do not have the proper personnel on the field. They use a 2nd timeout when Wade decides to challenge the Brandon Jackson TD from 2 yards out where it did not appear that Jackson made it into the endzone. But, winning the challenge might have set up 2nd and goal from 3-6 inches out. Then, the 3rd Timeout was used to stop the clock before the 2 minute warning with 2:13 to play. With no timeouts, there would be no ability to challenge a play for the next 13 seconds. Once the 2 minute warning hits, the officials take over the review procedures. But for those next 13 seconds, what could possibly go wrong? In perfect 2010 Dallas Cowboys fashion, the Cowboys are given the raw end of a ridiculous ruling on a kickoff fumble that was clearly not. But, how can the Cowboys challenge when they have no timeouts? They can't. A game that may have been very unlikely at 21-0, went to a game with absolutely no prayer at 28-0. Game. Set. and Match.
* Jon Kitna had a very difficult task on his plate last night. Hostile situation. An offense that has no swagger or ability. Clay Matthews who can get by Marc Colombo or Leonard Davis whenever he pleases. A combination that had us thinking this could be very difficult. But, if Kitna can make a few better throws - both to Miles Austin - maybe they had a chance. 1st Quarter, Austin has a step on Sam Shields but the ball is underthrown and Shields has a fabulous interception. 2nd Quarter, Austin flies past Charles Woodson as Woodson is clearly expecting safety help that doesn't arrive. Austin is 3 yards clear and sure to score an easy touchdown if the ball is where it needs to be, but it misses as it is overthrown terribly and the slim chances the Cowboys have disappear completely.
* Gerald Sensabaugh appears to be a strong safety who does not enjoy contact. Alan Ball appears to be a free safety who is not very good in coverage. Pretty tough to have a solid defense if both of these statements are true, and who would argue them at this point?
* When I look for positive points from this game I come up with Bryan McCann and Dez Bryant. 2 rookies. 2 players who have not become comfortable in their millionaire lifestyle like many of their teammates. I hate to blame the money and the lifestyle, but when you stop seeming to care and put your body on the line like you have always done, what explanation are we supposed to offer? This is not about 2 players or 1 game. This is about many, many players in many games looking like they would rather that the season ends so they can stop playing for the Dallas Cowboys. This thing has a disease that needs to be cut out.
And understand that more than Wade Phillips is wrong with this thing. When a team appears to be listless and hopeless 3 weeks in a row, you must hold the guys on the field responsible, too. The Vikings don't care for their coach and yet they seem to still play hard for each-other and for themselves. Why don't the Cowboys have that?