In another “tale of two halves” for the Cowboys, Tony Romo and the ‘Boys were simply unable to overcome the hole they found themselves in after the first half of their Thanksgiving loss to the Washington Redskins. I spent the morning breaking down the film.
RG III is a Dynamo
My initial thought has nothing to do with the Cowboys; it’s that RGIII is going to be one of the most dynamic players in the NFL for a long, long time. With the threat of beating defenses with his legs and a rocket arm to boot, I just don’t think there’s any way to stop him. The Redskins have multiple options built into each play to allow Griffin to gash defenses in the most effective manner, making it a “you’re your poison” situation for defenders. Once Washington gets a secondary and superior skill position players, look out.
No "A" for Romo
Romo led a magnificent comeback, but he didn’t have his “A” stuff Thursday. I counted 10 of his passes as being off-target—about twice the normal amount. The Redskins really did a quality job of mixing up their looks; they brought heat on Romo at the appropriate times and when they didn’t, they still showed blitz.
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New Plays Fizzle
Early in the game, it looked as though we might see a few different wrinkles from Jason Garrett. On the first two drives, the Cowboys ran two playaction passes, a counter, a screen, and end-around, and four plays with pre-snap motion. The ability to do much more of that pretty much disappeared by the second quarter, though.
In the third quarter, the Cowboys lined up quickly in an effort to sneak the ball for a first down on what they thought was 3rd and short. The problem is that they actually already obtained the first down, so Romo’s two-yard gain made it 2nd and 8. The shocking part is that it was Romo’s first sneak of the season; the Cowboys don’t use Romo in short-yardage situations, but they probably should. With the inability of the offensive line to move people in the running game, using Romo on sneaks could dramatically improve the offense’s short-yardage conversion rate.
Game on for Hatcher
Jason Hatcher had a big game for Dallas. He was all over the field in passing situations, as Rob Ryan frequently twisted his pass-rushers on third down. It worked pretty well, and Hatcher did an excellent job of bringing down RGIII when he had the opportunities.
Betting on Beasley?
Will we see more Cole Beasley? He probably should have been in for Kevin Ogletree a long time ago, and you could see the difference in the Cowboys’ underneath passing game with Beasley working the slot. Remarkably, Beasley had 13 targets on the day. That won’t repeat itself, but seven or so looks per game isn’t out of the question, especially if the Cowboys rightfully stick with their spread offense early in games.
Sitting at 5-6, the Cowboys aren’t out of this thing just yet. I hear people say “it doesn’t matter” if they’re alive because this team can’t win in the playoffs anyway, but I disagree. We’ve seen just how hot this offense can get at times, and if a concerted effort is made to run an optimal offense from the start of games instead of waiting until the team is down by two scores, they really have a shot.
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.