Needless to say that this has been a week that as a Cowboy fan I want to easily forget. Too much drama! First, Jerry Jones, as reported by the media, questions Barber's desire to play against the Steelers. Next, T.O., Patrick Crayton, and Roy Williams go into Garrett's office to complain about Romo's preference to throw to Witten over the rest of the receivers. Obviously, the Cowboys needed to gel and focus on the Giants this week, the Ravens next week, and the Eagles 2 weeks from this weekend. The Cowboys didn't need this scandals and controversies after losing the 1st game of the gauntlet.
Jerry Jones has often been misquoted by the media and I believe that this is what happened when Barber's intestinal fortitude was questioned. I also believe that T.O. might have a legitimate complain even though he has dropped some passes and quit on the route when Romo threw his 1st interception against the Steelers. Given Romo should have never thrown that ball because there were 3 Steelers surrounding T.O. and T.O. should have at least traded roles and become a defensive player by at least trying to break-up the interception. There are a couple of reasons that T.O. might be right because Roy Williams should have his receiving numbers begin to increase since Romo's return and they haven't. Also, there hasn't been an even distribution of passes being thrown to all receivers. With all that talent that the Cowboys have on offense, one would figure that defenses would have to choose their poison and this is not happening. Like Jones being misquoted, I also believe that this is being blown out of proportion becuase T.O. constantly ignores Ed Werder, who is an onsite reporter for ESPN during his press conferences. I also see Romo constantly giving too many instructions in the huddle. Either they don't know what they are doing which is a lack of prepartion or Romo is doing the playground thing by make it up at the last second. Well on to the game analysis against the Giants and more on this issue.
Defense Keys to Winning
The defense needs to repeat the performance they had against the Giants or close to it. Since they last met when the G-men had their way, the Cowboys D has been keeping teams out of the endzone by only allowing 3 touchdowns and might be considered the heart and soul of the team. The defense has also averaged 5 sacks and 10 quarterback knockdowns which has helped the secondary from being burned more often. This is especially true, since the secondary is defense's achilles heel. The Giants are the number 1 rushing team in the league, so the defense needs to step-up again in order to put pressure on Eli Manning and make him make the mistakes that Romo is prone to do.
Offense Keys to Winning
The offense must continue to run the ball like they did against the Steelers and most importantly, be able to make the tough yards on short yardage. Obviously, Romo needs to cut down his turnovers. I have read comments on this website that Romo is an exciting player, who makes a lot of spectacular plays. I would rather see him throw between 175 and 230 yards, have 0 and 1 turnover, and win the game. In other words substance over style. I also remember a TD that was posted on this site that was comparing Romo's stats from this year to last year's and the one thing that needs to be mentioned is that timing of his turnovers are terrible because this causes the Cowboys to lose any momentum that they might have built.
Special Teams Keys to Winning
The Cowboys need to do a better job of returning kicks and punts in order to establish momentum for the offense and continue to cover kickoffs and do the same for the defense. The punt coverage needs to be aware of what is happening when the weather changes which will make punts/kicks longer or shorter. Against the Steelers there was a run back that set-up the first score and the punt that the Cowboys cover guy hit the ball with his foot which led to a turnover. The return man did yell for everybody to get out of the way and I even heard it from the comfort of my sofa. Need to have the heads in the ball game and the coaches must be aware of the elements.
Coaching Keys to Winning
Garrett needs to close that open door policy and have the offense execute the play he calls. Make sure that he and Romo do a better job of spreading the wealth around with all that talent. Phillips needs to continue to unleash the defense on any offense they face and make sure that every player has his head in the ball game. This is also discipline.
One more thing, when I was coaching one of my favorite tactics that I used wasn't during the game, but the days or weeks leading up to the game. I used to tell the coaches from the opposing team to take it easy on us because we had some tough injuries or that we lost players to grades and then, beat the living tar out of the them. In other words we played opposum. The reason that I mention this is because of all the controversey that happened this week and how Romo just acts that whatever T.O. says to the media doesn't bother him could mean that they are doing the same. Could they be using the media to lure the Giants into thinking that all is not well in Valley Ranch? If it is and the Giants don't come out and play hard, than it is a stroke of genius by the Cowboys coaching staff. Or is it just wishful thinking on my part? We'll find out same Cowboy blog, same time, same site.