April 24, 2014

Behind The Star: The Latest on the Dallas Cowboys

Well the Cowboys have completed a quarter of their season and are sitting at .500 at 2-2.  Their fans may be disappointed about their record, but should also honest and realistic.  They outplayed the Giants, deserved to win that game, but were thoroughly outplayed by both Chicago and Seattle in losses, and didn’t play all that well in a win versus Tampa either.  They could easily be 1-3.  Problem for Dallas is that four of their next give games are on the road, with their one home game a rematch versus the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.  If they can go 3-2 or better in those games they would be setup for the remainder of the season, but somehow a 2-3 record seems more likely.  That being said, let’s look at the Cowboys at the quarter point.  We’ll take a quick glance at each position.

 

Quarterback:  Okay, Tony Romo, has not been good so far this season.  He’s turning the ball over way to many times, and I’m not just talking about the Chicago game as I can justify most of the picks with the exception of the third one where he tried to flip the ball to Jason Witten.  That being said, he will get better, is the least of the Cowboy problems, and would certainly benefit from some semblance of a running game, not to mention some protection from the offensive line.  Grade  C+.

 

Running Back:  DeMarco Murray just can’t find any running room.  He’s had a big run or two but that’s mainly due to him dancing around in the backfield and making his own holes.  This could be a problem all season as the offensive line has yet to find any rhythm.  Fullback Lawrence Vickers who was expected to be a huge addition and help open up running lanes for Murray has not been anywhere near as good as expected.  Grade  C-

 

Receivers:  Dez Bryant and Jason Witten have been big disappointments so far this season.  Bryant still is far from a polished route runner and both have had huge problems with drops.  Now Witten looks to have cured his problem with a big game versus the Bears in Week 4 but Bryant’s issues have been going on all season.  Miles Austin has been consistent and should probably be used more in the passing game.  Kevin Ogletree has pretty much disappeared since a big Week 1.  The receivers have yet to hit many big plays and that seems to be because Romo doesn’t have much time in the pocket to look for the deep ball, and on those occasions where he has had time, he has missed open targets.  Grade  D.

 

Offensive Line:  Not much to say here.  This unit has been terrible.  The Cowboys brought in Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau to solidify the interior of the line during the off-season, and both have been terrible.  Doug Free was moved from left to right tackle where the thought was he would play better, well, he looks like someone who just can’t play football.  Nothing more than a tackling dummy out there, constantly missing assignments or taking penalties.  This unit hasn’t been able to pass protect or open up holes for the running game, and if that doesn’t chance, the Cowboys will go nowhere.   Grade  F

 

Defensive Line:  Unit has been solid, they don’t put much pressure on the passer although that might change with the addition of Jay Ratliff this week.  They do play the run well however.  Grade B

 

Linebackers:  As strong a unit as the Cowboys have had in a long time.  ILB Sean Lee is a star in the making.  Lee makes plays all over the field in both the pass and run game.  Is also the only defensive player who seems to excel at causing turnovers.  Anthony Spencer is never going to be a great pass rusher, but does play the run well and that has value.  Cowboys also have a couple of young, up, and coming players in Victor Butler and Bruce Carter.  Could be the strength of the Cowboys for years to come.  Grade A

 

Secondary:  Yeah, they had a rough game versus Chicago and it’s fair to wonder if the loss of safety Barry Church for the year played a role in that debacle.  The bye week should give this unit time to adjust to Danny McCray and also find a way to get CB Mike Jenkins on the field.  Free agent addition Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Clairborne have been as good as advertised.  If the offense ever turns their season around, the defense is certainly good enough to win.  Grade  B+

 

Special Teams:  It’s time to admit that Felix Jones can’t get it done anymore.  Dallas needs a KR who can get the ball past the 20 yard line.  Dez Bryant hasn’t done much in the punt return department either outside of one good return versus Tampa.  To many balls are bouncing in front of him.  The punt block unit has also been poor as one punt has been blocked and another rusher creamed P Chris Jones forcing him to miss at least one game.  K Dan Bailey hasn’t had many chances to kick much of anything.  Grade D

 

Coaching:  The offensive line was a problem last year as well, but I guess you could blame management for that, but not figuring out a way to get more points out of this offense however is definitely on the coaching staff, and when was the last time you can say Dallas outcoached anyone.  Grade C

 

All in all, just an average team.  Hard to believe how bad the Cowboys have been on offense, an if they don’t figure out how to protect Romo and open up holes for Murray, that is not going to improve much.

As for this week, playing at Baltimore is not the place to fix your problems.  Ravens 24  Cowboys 17

 

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