After falling quickly 21-7, Cowboys fans feared the worst as they tried to enjoy a suddenly depressing Thanksgiving Day feast. But in classic Cowboys fashion, the team was able to rally and send themselves to 7-5 behind DeMarco Murray’s three touchdowns
This win had a lot more lessons to be learned than we might have anticipated. Here are some of them:
1. The Offense is a classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Tony Romo has his flaws there is no doubt about that. He’ll make you wince, whine and cry with some of the most untimely mistakes you could dream of. He’ll also leave you breathless and mesmerized and you witness him evade and elude defenders just in time to deliver a fairytale touchdown pass.
However, this season has seen limited magic and that’s had a lot to do with Bill Callahan. Callahan’s inability to commit to the run game and the medium to deep passing routes has limited this offenses potential because of fear of mistakes. Well, Tony Romo’s worth is in the risk.
This weeks game definitely started off with a Callahan feel to it but opened up in the second half and success followed. Romo is at his best when he feels free to spin it. Consequently, When Romo is spinning it well, everyone plays better.
This team has two identities on offense and it was more apparent than ever on Thursday. They are the Callahan offense that is dink and dunk, efficient but lacking in results and consistency. Or they are the Jason Garrett “live free and die hard “ offense that will cost you mistakes but make big plays and open up the all kinds of possibilities for an explosive offense.
One thing is for sure, the Callahan offense isn’t going to win games down the stretch here. We’ll need to see more Jekyll than Hyde.
2. The Offensive Line is Improving; Tyron Smith teams most valuable player.
Tyron Smith has allowed only one sack this year… one. I want you think about that for a minute. Smith has squared off with elite pass rushers like Jared Allen, Jason Pierre Paul, Robert Ayers and plenty more and has only allowed ONE sack. That’s amazing.
Silently, Tyron Smith has grown into one of the best tackles in the NFL and he isn’t the only player the Cowboys have to be excited about on this offensive line.
After a lot of flack about selecting Travis Frederick, the rookie has been extremely reliable. Yes, he’s had his mental mistakes and a penalty here and there but ultimately he has anchored the interior offensive line that was awful last year.
Additionally, Leary was very good against the Raiders. His pass blocking was average but he was exceptional at getting to the next level and opening up holes for DeMarco Murray.
If we continue to see development out of these three, the Cowboys may finally have an offensive line for the first time in a while.
3. No Quit?
We’ve been looking for some heart and leadership on this team when facing adversity. Being down 21-7 left us all feeling empty because we’ve seen this team quit in the past. That wasn’t the case on Thursday and it was nice to see.
Brandon Carr got burnt a few times by Rod Streater, Andre Holmes was making catches he wouldn’t make on rookie mode in Madden and Jeff Heath found himself over committed more than once.
It would have been easy for this defense to quit.
However, led by Ware and Hatcher, the defense didn’t quit. Hatcher made some big plays, Carr made a big interception and Carter found redemption. If this team continues to play with heart and resiliency, it could be a strong December.
Bottom line: I don’t think DeMarco Murray has a long shelf life. I think he’s a hit away from an injury on every play and it scares me when he takes on contact.
That being said, he really showed me the talent he has this week.
Murray is one of the most talented backs in the league and is capable of dominating any Sunday. Unfortunately, that talented is marred by being injury prone.
It’s important that we figure out who Murray is and if he can shake the injury bug. We learned just how good Murray could be against the Raiders after he punched in three touchdowns. He’s a player who can really change the fortune of this franchise if he can stay healthy. That’s a big ‘if’ but it doesn’t negate what he proved he could be this past week.
5. Secondary issues can be masked
This secondary is really bad. They made Matt McGloin look like an All-Pro. On tape, you’ll see a unit that is deficient in basic coverage schemes and doesn’t trust one another to know their responsibilities in zone.
That trust is crucial for this scheme.
Despite how bad they are, they are very good at forcing turnovers. The truth is that if the Cowboys would have lost the fans, media and maybe even players would be crucifying Brandon Carr. He was not at his best. Yet, a timely interception masked his deficiencies and took the target off his back.
This defense is going to surrender a lot of yards in the air moving forward. Yet if they keep forcing turnovers, they’ll keep themselves out of the spotlight. Turnovers win games and that’s the most likely chance the defense will have at helping this team reach it’s goal.