The Dallas Cowboys traveled to Philadelphia yesterday. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys are licking their wounds. Neither team was playing well. Both teams had huge problems on their offensive lines. Both Tony Romo and Michael Vick have been turning the ball over so frequently you have to wonder if there are bonus incentives in the contract to do just that. In my mind, the question wasn’t who was going to win this game. The question was who wasn’t going to lose.
Going into this game, I was highly critical of the Dallas Cowboys special teams. They’ve been especially awful. On Sunday, they turned in a mixed performance. DeWayne Harris ran back a punt. The special teams made a positive play, a welcome surprise. Brad Sham, long-time voice of the Cowboys, said that the Cowboys were first in the league at covering punts. Okay. That’s probably exactly right. Sham is rarely wrong, but we continually have kick returners fumbling the ball. On Sunday, it was no exception. Right after the defense gave up a cheap touchdown to Jeremy Macklin, Dunbar fumbled the subsequent kickoff. The Cowboys were lucky and were able to recover it. We simply can’t have that. Our punter shanked not one, but two punts. That’s not winning football.
Our number one draft choice, Morris Claiborne, was singed last week by Roddy White and Julio Jones. One would figure that he would try to make up for last week’s performance by playing a solid game this week. You would be wrong. Claiborne committed six penalties! Offsides and defensive holding were his specialties. Offsides? Seriously? I don’t get it.
To his credit Claiborne knew he stunk up the field – “I can’t accept this as me being a young corner,” Claiborne said. “I’m out there with all these veterans — they expect me to play. All that rookie stuff is overblown. It’s not about learning. I’ve got to go out and play. If we want to be the best secondary in this league, I can’t go out and play like that.”
The Dallas Cowboys played poorly enough to lose this game. There were a few bright spots. Tony Romo did not turn the ball over for the second straight week. Let me also add that Tony made an outstanding play by avoiding the rush and throwing a strike to Miles Austin for a 15-yard gain and a first down, late in the 3rd quarter. Dez Bryant did not make a major mistake, which is in itself cause for celebration. He also made a really good play for a touchdown. Finally, and most importantly, Felix Jones looked like he was interested in playing running back in the NFL. He was running with purpose and authority, something completely absent the last several weeks.
I do need to point out that Bruce Carter, inside linebacker, played an outstanding game.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this was their best game since their opening day performance against the New York Giants. The Cowboys can win the NFC East, but they have to improve significantly in all three phases of the game. If history is to be our guide, the Cowboys will play well in November and fold in December. We’ll see.