At 2-2, it’s hardly been smooth sailing for the Cowboys through the first quarter of the 2012 season. While the majority of the squad has underperformed thus far, the team is also a bit lucky to even be 2-2. Based on their points scored and points allowed, the most likely win-loss record for the team is actually 1-3.
The majority of the pain has been felt on offense, where the Cowboys are struggling more than they have in years. Many people point to the team’s lack of a running game and, worse, the quarterback as the primary culprits, but the Cowboys really need to play more efficiently in every aspect of their offensive attack.
For the Cowboys’ sake, let’s hope that the “MVPs” of the offensive line and skill position units, listed below, are playing a whole lot better by midseason.
Offensive Line: LT Tyron Smith
The second-year offensive tackle has struggled in 2012, but so has every other Cowboys offensive lineman. Ryan Cook, Mackenzy Bernadeau, and Doug Free have all been exceptionally poor, so this award really comes down to Smith and left guard Nate Livings. I actually like what Livings has done thus far in Dallas, allowing just one sack and two pressures on the year.
Meanwhile, Smith has gotten beaten quite a bit on the outside. He’s allowed pressure on 6.9 percent of his pass blocking snaps, compared to only 3.1 percent in his rookie year. Nonetheless, Smith has faced off against Jason Pierre-Paul, Julius Peppers, and a bevy of other talented pass-rushers, so combined with his natural progression at left tackle, there’s reason for optimism. Plus, Smith has been the ‘Boys’ top run blocker all season, with running backs averaging 4.08 YPC with him at the point-of-attack.
Skill Positions: QB Tony Romo
Everyone is jumping on Romo after his five-interception performance in Week 4, but that criticism isn’t warranted. I realize it’s difficult to defend a guy after he throws five picks, but I actually think the Monday night game against the Bears was Romo’s second-best outing all season. The first three (and arguably four) interceptions weren’t on him, and I counted Romo throwing only four off-target passes all night—his lowest mark all season. Over the past three seasons, Romo has averaged around seven off-target passes per game.
Look, I don’t think Romo is playing the best ball of his career, but he’s going to be just fine. The running game is going to improve and the receivers aren’t going to drop nearly as many passes moving forward. With more help, we’ll see the Romo of old in no time at all.
Ultimately, the state of the Cowboys’ offensive is reflected in the MVPs I listed above. Tomorrow’s defensive awards will feature a few guys that haven’t underachieved in 2012.