The other night I sat down and finally watched Jurassic World. I know that I’m not alone when I say that the first one legitimately terrifies me, but it was one of the more popular movies of the summer so I decided to give it a go.
I’m a simple dude so I settled in with a nice bowl of popcorn – a staple for any great movie. A few handfuls in I was really digging my movie snack, thinking that I’d made a great decision on what to munch on as dinosaurs feasted on humans, and about halfway through I was overwhelmed with dino-goodness and completely forgot that I had popcorn at my disposal. I was overwhelmed by the whoknowswhatasaurus and the popcorn went stale.
Much like the velociraptors did to me, the Atlanta Falcon offense overwhelmed the Cowboys defenders this past Sunday. Atlanta dropped 39 points on the scoreboard… the most that the Dallas Cowboys defense has allowed since letting the Chicago Bears score 45 during that infamous Monday Night Football game in 2013. I’m here to explain why we don’t need to break the glass, press the panic, pass go and collect $200, or anything else. The word of the day is perspective and I’ve cooked you up a fresh serving of it. Sit down and have a bite… I promise we won’t watch Jurassic World.
Down Goes The Defense
Expectations for the defense have been raised after the first two games of 2015, a shocking revelation given the way that side of the ball has played in recent history, and there were plenty of fans hoping that they’d carry the team in the absence of Tony Romo. While the ’85 Bears didn’t show up on Sunday, I don’t believe that they were as bad as it seemed.
Let’s remember now that the following players did not even put on a uniform for the Cowboys Defense this past Sunday:
- Orlando Scandrick
- Rolando McClain
- Greg Hardy
- Randy Gregory
- Jeremy Mincey
- Terrell McClain
Not to mention that both Sean Lee and Barry Church had their lips cut during the game and had to miss partial time to address those.
However you want to look at that… it’s a lot. Those are some massive pieces missing – so let’s keep perspective. The Atlanta offense, fully equipped with their stars, was held to just 17 points in the first half.
“Just 17 points? RJ… dude come on, that’s a lot.”
Yes it is, but let’s again remember to keep perspective. Rod Marinelli’s unit, held together by duct tape, forced punts on three out of Atlanta’s first four drives. Had it not been for a Brandon Weeden interception, that gave Atlanta the ball at the Dallas 23-yard line, their first half performance would’ve likely been pretty impressive.
Defense Runs Out Of Gas
“What about the defense from the first two games? They looked fantastic! What happened?”
Let me break this down for you. I’m literally breakdancing at my keyboard. This is dangerous.
17 points in the first half, given that 7 of them were a semi fluke, against a Kyle Shanahan offense armed with Julio Jones is a victory in a lot of books around the NFL. Consider that the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants (both armed with more of their starting defensive units… unlike the Cowboys) surrendered 20 and 13 points to the Falcons in the first half of their respective games.
Time of possession is a huge indicator of who won football games in the National Football League. By now you undoubtedly know that Atlanta held the ball for 34:13 of the contest to the 25:47 maintained by the Cowboys. What you don’t know is the second half breakdown of that. If you’ll allow me I’d like to examine that closely.
In the second half alone, the Atlanta Falcons held the ball for 20:07… leaving just 9:53 for the Cowboys. The Falcons had the ball in the second half for more than DOUBLE the amount of time that the Cowboys did. Perspective:
Second Half Time of Possession from Week 1 victory over NYG – 15:11
Second Half Time of Possession from Week 2 victory @ PHI – 17:21
While there is ultimately no excuse for missed tackles, broken plays, or allowing Devonta Freeman to just run rampant… it’s a little bit more understandable when you consider how exhausted this depleted unit was.
The lesson of the day for class, and there will be a quiz on Sunday in New Orleans, is that the performance against the Atlanta Falcons is not the real 2015 Dallas Cowboys. This defense is definitely for real, but everyone has a breaking point and unfortunately they reached theirs during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons… after playing what I believe to be a very impressive first half all things considered.
That velociraptor Julio Jones? Here’s how he has performed during each first half of the three games played this season.
|Julio Jones 2015 1st Half Stats||Targets||Catches||Yards||Touchdowns|
|Week 1 – PHI||12||8||97||2|
|Week 2 – @ NYG||10||8||49||0|
|Week 3 – @ DAL||8||3||27||0|
Morris Claiborne did that. He’s having quite a start to 2015.
It’s easy to deduce that when everything’s going right that everyone plays well, and that’s true. I’m just saying that the defense spent a majority of the second half, approximately 67%, on the field. The Falcons scored 22 points in the second half – 56% of their total for the game. Their sustained success came when they tired us out. That’s an aberration so far this season and something that needs to be addressed from a total team perspective, not strictly a problem for the defense.
Have some patience with the Cowboys. Help is on the way.
You don’t want to be hot at this time of year. You want to get hot in November and December… when the Cowboys will be at full strength. Have faith.