Cowboys Film Review: Week 5 Notes, Standouts, and Observations


The second string Dallas Cowboys took on the defending Super Bowl champion, New England Patriots on Sunday. Here are the standouts, notes, and observations…

It’s hard to criticize a team that held the defending Super Bowl champs to a 3-point tie with roughly three minutes until the half but the injury-depleted Cowboys showed exactly how beatable the Patriots really are and what a fully stocked Cowboys roster can do if given the chance.

Here are yesterday’s Cowboys standouts, notes and observations:

  • In retrospect, play calling is always easy to criticize but the Cowboys are operating at a kindergarten level. To close out the first half, the Cowboys punted with 2 minutes and 11 seconds. The Patriots would get the ball twice after that. That can’t happen. After the Cowboys stopped the Patriots’ first drive, the Cowboys’ offense proceeded to throw a pass, take a sack, and then run a draw on third down. New England used one timeout and got the ball back with over a minute on the clock. Why was Dallas passing on 1st and 10, 94 seconds on the clock, and the ball on their own 13 yard line? This is dumb if Joe Montana is your QB, let alone Brandon Weeden.
  • Offensive ineptitude has never been so apparent. Last week I wrote about how the Cowboys offense is far below league average the past three weeks and trending the wrong way. Nothing that happened Sunday changed that trend. The Cowboys may be the worst in the NFL by the time Tony Romo comes back. Six three and outs in the first half? The receivers in Dallas are limited in their abilities. The play-calling is vanilla and often times counter-productive, the QB play is high school level, and the halftime adjustments are nonexistent.
  • It’s easy to be a good coach on a talented team, but when a team is missing its talent, coaches get exposed. Dallas was going to lose this game regardless but Garret made it very easy on his opponent Sunday. Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan are the right guys for job but they are going to have to improve exponentially if they expect to play anything remotely resembling average football.  In other words, the offensive coaching staff is well below average.
  • New England clearly watched the tape on the Cowboys and dared the Cowboys passing attack to beat them. They repeatedly played single high safety with 10 defenders lined up within five yards from the line of scrimmage. Dallas still never got over the top. This type of defense will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • It was great to see the Cowboys succeed in stopping the Patriots from converting a 3rd and short. The Brothers Crawford (not really brothers) have extraordinary quickness off the snap and crashed their gaps before the offensive line moved an inch. If you don’t have girth and strength then you better have quickness – and the Cowboys have great quickness on the D-line.
  • Something I’ve talked about for over a year is Brandon Weeden’s propensity to pass right and ignore the left side of the field. Since being called out on national television last week, Weeden seems to be making an effort to address the issue obvious to many of us so long ago. Unfortunately, his remaining weakness is that he fixates on one receiver (who’s usually on the right) and doesn’t go through his progressions and look for the open target. When he did throw left on Sunday, he appeared to be following the receiver the entire time.
  • Speaking of Weeden, he is fairly good at reading the defense pre-snap but once the ball is snapped he is simply executing what he decided before. He doesn’t read the defenses during the plays and he usually throws to who he decided to target before the snap.
  • Ronald Leary = great run blocker, poor pass protector. La’el Collins =  Great pass protector, poor run blocker. Continuity on the offensive line is traditionally a sacred thing, but in obvious passing situations wouldn’t it be better to bring in the player best equipped for pass-protection?
  • Why does Brandon Weeden have one of the very best 3rd down completion percentages in the NFL? Because he doesn’t throw first downs. When he does get first downs it’s usually because his receiver gained it with YAC (yards after the catch). Defenses have been guarding the first down marker and Weeden rarely throws past the marker. This is an excellent example of statistics being very misleading.
  • LT Tyron Smith had his best game of the season. He was dominating in every way from start to finish. He was the lone bright spot on the offense.
  • DE Greg Hardy was clearly the best defender. He applied pressure from the start and contributed 38 quality snaps on Sunday. Sean Lee and Rolando McClain had up-and-down performances and over-pursued the ball from time to time. The New England ZBS (zone blocking scheme) caused them some problems in the running game.
  • CBs Corey White and Byron Jones played excellent football in very difficult situations. They were given the toughest match-ups on the day and were able to win most battles with aggression, technique, and athleticism.

Final Thoughts:

A special sarcastic thank you to the NFL on CBS for subjecting most of us to the Cleveland vs Baltimore OT conclusion rather than flipping over to watch the Cowboys game as scheduled. An extra thumbs up for giving us a full 5 minutes of commercials after the OT stinker before clicking over to the Cowboys game mid-drive with less than 5 minutes left in the quarter.

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It’s awfully frustrating when the NFL floods us with football three days of the week with a minimum of three primetime slots and two afternoon slots, but still keeps us from watching the games we actually want to watch. The Sunday Ticket scam, that’s only available to a select population with satellite views, needs to stop.

Thank goodness for NFL All-22 gamepass or the missing game tape would be lost forever for most of us.

Another example of CBS professionalism is when New England gets praised for everything they do and the Cowboys (or opposing NFC team) gets ignored. It’s hard to believe Phil Simms knows the game of football. He sounds a lot like your drunken uncle, clinging to the knowledge he gained in varsity football, stating the obvious, and ignoring reality. His (and most of CBS’s) analysis on inter-conference games are biased, elementary, presumptuous, and misleading at times.

Next: How bad is the Cowboys offense?

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