They say you shouldn’t ever have to apologize for a win. That’s certainly true—the Cowboys’ 16-10 win over the Bucs counts just as much as their Week 1 win against the Giants—but the manner in which they won isn’t one that is sustainable. Had the Cowboys been facing a handful of more formidable opponents, the team would be 1-2 and the sky would be falling in Dallas.
Now, not everything went horribly for the ‘Boys. The defense was once again sensational, allowing only 10 points—seven of which came with a short field. After reviewing the film, I have a lot of positive things to say about the defense (and only the defense). . .
The Cowboys shut down Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson, as I anticipated. Brandon Carr allowed only two catches for 22 yards to Jackson when the two played for the Chiefs and Chargers last year. On Sunday, Jackson didn’t catch a single pass until the Bucs' final drive. He was covered by a variety of players, including Carr and Mike Jenkins, with Carr often helping over the top from a safety position when he wasn't lined up at cornerback.
Church is out for the season with a torn Achilles, and that’s a bigger blow for the Cowboys than most realize. Church was playing really well this season, displaying improved range in coverage. With him down, it’s likely the Cowboys will bring in a free agent to compete with Danny McCray and Mana Silva.
DeMarcus Ware is so good that we’re almost to the point that you forget about him unless he doesn’t have two sacks in a game.
I’m confident that the defense is a superior one with Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore splitting time at nose tackle than with Jay Ratliff in there alone. One of my first articles here on the Blue Star Blog was a projection of Ratliff’s career with evidence that he won’t hold up much longer. When he comes back, Rob Ryan might want to seriously consider placing him at defensive end.
I really thought Dez Bryant was going to have a monster game. He ended up with six receptions for 62 yards. That’s not bad considering the lack of protection provided by the offensive line, but Miles Austin was able to cross the 100-yard mark.
I often say the Cowboys win with the pass, not the run. On Sunday, they really won in spite of poor showings through both the air and ground. DeMarco Murray rushed for a touchdown, but he averaged only 2.1 YPC. He received 18 carries to Felix Jones’s one.
Tony Romo was under heavy pressure all day, but I thought he played a little below average, too. He missed a few reads and held onto the ball too long at times. I’m not too worried about him, however, and it’s nice to see the Cowboys sneak out the win with only 321 yards of total offense.
Like Ratliff, I predicted a major decline for Jason Witten this season. While I think he’s going through a rough patch and will improve his play within the next few games, I also believe we need to see more of rookie James Hanna down the road. Witten isn’t the pass-catching threat he once was, and I think you can see defenses adjusting accordingly.