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My Quick Thoughts on Cowboys at Chargers 2013

September 30, 2013

(GIF originally posted to Deadspin.com by Samer Kalaf)

  • That was just awful.  You aren’t going to win many games where you allow the opponent to score 20 unanswered points.  The Cowboys played poorly in – as Jason Garrett says repeatedly – all three phases.  In fact, two of those phases were absolutely terrible: defense and special teams.
  • Yes, San Diego has a good offense led by a capable quarterback, but the Cowboys’ defense simply did not show up yesterday.  Sean Lee’s pick six was just about the only good play the defense made the entire game.  His sidekick, Bruce Carter, was especially bad.  Carter got burned TWICE by a guy who isn’t even allowed onto most amusement park rides, the very diminutive Danny Woodhead.
  • The secondary was also torched repeatedly by Philip Rivers, making this the second game in four weeks where they’ve done nothing to slow the opposing team’s passing attack.  Mo Claiborne is definitely being targeted, given the fact that he’s clearly hindered by his shoulder injury.  This unit will need to figure things out fast, or it could get much, much worse before it gets better.
  • Most disappointing was the complete disappearance of the defensive line.  It’s hard to blame the fact that Anthony Spencer was lost for the season, since he’d only appeared in one game.  They only managed to sack Rivers one time, and barely put any pressure on him all afternoon.  Most troubling was the fact that DeMarcus Ware made virtually zero impact for the second time in four games this year.  He had only two tackles and was basically invisible all day.  The Cowboys need more from him – a LOT more.
  • Special teams was also abysmal – especially the punting game.  The normally solid Chris Jones had a couple of particularly terrible punts, and then when he actually managed to finally have a good punt late in the game with a chance to pin the Chargers deep in their own end, the punt coverage team couldn’t keep the ball from rolling into the end zone.  It’s hard to beat up Dan Bailey for missing a 56-yard field goal attempt, but what he does deserve criticism for is blaming it on the “operation.”  C’mon, man – don’t throw your snapper and holder under the bus.
  • Offensively, the problems can be traced to two flaws with the gameplan that seem to crop up over and over: failing to commit to the running game and forcing an excessive number of plays to rookie WR Terrance Williams.  Whether the blame for this falls to Bill Callahan or Garrett or both, the bottom line is they simply cannot keep repeating these two flawed approaches.  The one time they actually committed to the run, last week against the Rams, it paid huge dividends.  But when they don’t stick with the run, drives stall, which causes time of possession to get so lopsided that their defense gets worn out and they don’t get enough opportunities on offense.  This has to get fixed, as does their inexplicable obsession with running so many plays to Williams – especially in the red zone.  Dez Bryant is one of the best red zone receivers in the league, so why keep forcing it to an unproven rookie who’s shown no signs whatsoever that he’s ready for such a role?
  • The offensive line was also really bad, especially Doug Free and Ronald Leary.  The line has played better than expected most of the season so far, and with Brian Waters finally ready for full-game action, it’s surprising and disappointing that this unit took such a major step back yesterday.
  • Also disappointing was the perpetually rock solid Jason Witten, who had a horrible drop in a crucial situation late in the game yesterday.  When even your most reliable players aren’t on their game, you have no chance.  Witten has to show up.
  • If there’s anything positive to take away from yesterday’s game, it’s that Tony Romo had another good day.  His army of detractors will no doubt do their damnedest to try and blame him for the loss, but he and Dez are the only two guys who kept the Cowboys from getting blown out by the Chargers.  It was Romo’s third straight game without an interception, and he’s only thrown one all year so far, while putting up eight TD passes.  Nothing Romo does will ever be good enough for his detractors, so it’s pointless to try and convince those brain-dead dullards otherwise.  Those of us who understand how bad this team would be without him will continue to appreciate Romo.
  • Next week, the Broncos roll into town, and they are arguably the best team in the league – at least the team playing better than anyone else so far this season.  And that’s almost entirely due to the all-world performance they’ve gotten from Peyton Manning at QB.  He started off the season with a seven-TD performance, and if the Cowboys don’t solve their defensive problems – especially in pass coverage – he just might make a run at replicating that opening week stat fest.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dahlberg permalink
    September 30, 2013 9:51 am

    Dez needs to do a lot more (as does Witten)… drops by both players and periods where they disappear from the gameplan doesn’t bode well for the expectations most of us have for them as game changers… great that DB scored twice but long stretches with no catches… just seems like Romo ought to be getting him the ball 10+ times game. The rest of the offense looks pretty pedestrian.

    • September 30, 2013 9:54 am

      Hate to see Dez drop it, but it’s not his fault they’re throwing elsewhere so much (Williams). Garrett and Callahan need to ride Dez all the way down the field, because he’s really the only un-defendable weapon this offense has.

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