Eagles lost. Redskins lost. Giants lost. Cowboys won. All is right with the universe. However, good teams celebrate wins – great teams look for the next one. That being said, what are some areas wherein the Cowboys should look to improve?
Against the Rams, Dallas committed 6 penalties, the combined result of which was 72 yards. Last year, Dallas committed 7.4 penalties a game (30th in the league). Nobody has to remind Cowboys fans about the potential implications of penalties. This team is clearly more disciplined than last year, but is not yet at the level it should be, especially given all the veteran leadership. Mistakes will happen, and penalties will be given. Some, however, are avoidable (ahem, Jason Hatcher).
Special Teams Offense
It’s not so much that the Cowboys are doing a bad job on returns; in fact, we’ve held onto the ball and have gained decent yardage. Rather, this is an area where the ‘Boys could really do well, but have yet to tap into their potential. It seems that Dwayne Harris is just itching to take one to the house, but has been unable to get “that block”. Special Teams plays are game changers; they’re part of the elements that were missing the past few years. To be a serious contender, we need to hit on all fronts.
Blocking Down the Field
There’s something about DeMarco Murray and the Rams. He played an excellent game, and there’s no need to rip on him. In fact, Murray is owed extra credit given the that he gained a lot of extra yards without good blocking. Anyone who saw the second quarter Touchdown knows exactly what I’m talking about. James Hanna has the ability to make that block – he just didn’t get the angle. Murray scored anyway, but not making that block threatens the outcome of the play and worse: exposes the runner to injury. Rookie Terrence Williams showed improvement this week with his blocking; now, others need to follow suit.
Inside Pass Rush
Many would be hard-pressed to find anything negative to say about the Cowboys defense after this win, especially not about the pass rush. The truest of fans, though, sorely miss Jay Ratliff in his prime. Our ends have done an excellent job, and they’ve even been able to work inside on occasion (like one of my new favorite players, George Selvie). However, mature QBs know how to step up in the pocket and get the ball off quickly. That explosive three-technique (like Poe who tortured us last week) makes life harder on QBs and RBs, while making things far easier for DEs, and especially for LBs on those beautiful A-Gap blitzes. This weakness doesn’t seem so detrimental now, but after a bout with Peyton Manning in two weeks, fans might be expecting a 1st-round DT in April.
The Deep Threat
Tony Romo has thrown the ball very well thus far. While his audibling still needs work, fans are excited about the accuracy we’ve seen from him. However, it is worth noting that the longest play of the season was that one pass to Dez against the Chiefs – the one he had to dive for – which went for 53 yards. That’s almost double any other passing play this season. There is certainly nothing wrong with having a short, precise passing offense. However, the Cowboys have fast, playmaking receivers. Bringing this offense to the next level means stretching the field. A 20-yard pass may move the chains, but a 70-yard pass can change a defense.