I’ve watched and re-watched the disaster that was the Cowboys’ 34-18 Monday night loss to the Bears. Here are some of my initial reactions. . .
- I didn’t think it was possible that I’d ever say a quarterback who threw five interceptions had a good game, but Tony Romo really wasn’t all that poor last night. Three of his interceptions were the direct result of a miscue by a receiver or his offensive line, and the final two were in garbage time. Romo was also hindered by excessive drops and poor route-running. It isn’t like Romo was on fire, but he sure didn’t play as poor as his five-interception stat line indicates.
- We really saw the best and worst of Dez Bryant on Monday night. At times, he looks like he’s about to really “get it,” but then a mental mistake halts his progress. Following the blown sight adjustment that resulted in Romo’s first interception for a touchdown, Bryant had two really bad drops. This is a guy who actually has outstanding hands; at Oklahoma State and in his first two years in Dallas, he didn’t drop a thing. You have to wonder if Bryant has the mental toughness to rebound from adversity.
- I really thought Victor Butler was going to step up in Anthony Spencer’s absence, but that wasn’t the case. Butler, who has posted a greater pressure rate than Spencer and a higher tackle rate than DeMarcus Ware over the past three seasons, got beat up in the running game and wasn’t around Jay Cutler much as a pass-rusher.
- The play of the cornerbacks came back to reality last night, with both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne getting beat on multiple occasions. You really have to give credit to Chicago’s offensive line, though. No cornerback can survive consistent one-on-one coverage without some sort of pressure on the quarterback.
- In reality, none of the defensive players will receive “plus” grades from me other than Ware, Sean Lee, and perhaps Josh Brent. If I were Rob Ryan, I’d think long and hard about moving Jay Ratliff to defensive end when he comes back. With Ratliff and Jason Hatcher as your primary ends and Brent, Sean Lissemore, and Ratliff all working at the nose, I think the defensive line could potentially be more explosive without losing anything against the run.
- When I break down the game from a statistical standpoint, I typically watch the offensive line in greater detail. At first glance, however, I think Tyron Smith had a solid night. He displayed really good footwork and, outside of a couple of plays that were highlighted in the game broadcast, he really did an outstanding job on Julius Peppers. Doug Free, on the other hand, gave up numerous pressures.
- The Cowboys’ best offensive lineman on the night was left guard Nate Livings. The Cowboys’ offense has been so poor in 2012 that I think Livings has probably been their top player thus far. He’s really playing well, but if an interior lineman is ever your offensive MVP, you have issues.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.