Originally Posted by Eskimo
However, the defense came up very short against quality opponents last year while dominating below average offenses. The end result was that we beat all the teams we should have, but got soundly beaten the last four times we played teams of quality (Phil, Mia, Car in playoffs, Minn).
After reading this, my first thought was the old football adage, "The best defense is a good offense". Unfortunately, for Dallas last season, our offense was, at best, average.
Personally, I would like to reserve judgment on Dallas's 2004 defense for a few more games. The Vikings were able to exploit two sizable holes in the secondary--namely, at safety [Woodson] and right corner. I'm going to wait-and-see if adjustments can be made to lessen and/or prevent further exploitation.
Looking back at 2003, I have several thoughts...
First, anytime your defense prevents the opposing offense from scoring as many points as your offense is capable of [i.e. scoring average], and
your offense doesn't score more points than your opponent--your offense
is always to blame. Losses to the Buccaneers, Saints and the eventual world champion Patriots can solely be attributed directly to an anemic Cowboys offense.
Second, the Falcons game
. Less than three minutes into the second half and leading 10-7, Dallas fumbled and gave the ball to Atlanta at the Cowboy 40. Turnovers are always bad, but turning over the ball in your territory is worse. Your offense gives your opponent a short field and forces your defense to protect even less territory. The Dallas D surrendered six points after the turnover.
After that score, the Dallas offense went three-and-out. The Dallas defense forced the Falcons to punt on their next possession. The Dallas offense went three-and-out on their next possession and only punted 39 yards. A short return put the Falcons AGAIN in Dallas territory at the Dallas 41. Another short field which the Dallas D couldn't prevent another TD. Next possession was almost an exact replay with the Falcons regaining possession at the Dallas 46 except that the defense stiffened enough to only allow a field goal.
Great field position often leads to points. And in the second half, Dallas's offense was a definite factor in giving the Falcons great field position which led to 15 points.
Third, the Philadelphia loss. I lay 50% of the blame on the defense. The nine points surrendered in the 4th quarter after long Eagles drives are indefensible [no pun intended]. But the twelve points scored by the Eagles in the THIRD quarter in a 10-10 game at that point can be placed firmly at the feet of the Dallas offense. An INT at the deep in Dallas territory? That's the offense's fault. Fumbling the ball through the endzone--which results in a safety and a punt to your opponent? Ditto. The momentum was fully in the Eagles camp which benefitted Philly with 14 third quarter points.
Fourth, the Miami loss. I would blame the Dallas D for allowing the Dolphins to drive without restraint...
...in the FIRST half. In the SECOND half?
Well, the Cowboys' offensive possessions went fumble.
4th quarter TD. Whoopie.
I'm not blaming the defense for making second half adjustments which limited the Dolphins to a TD and a FG. I will blame the offense for practically doing jack when there was still time to make a comeback. Sometimes... sometimes
... your offense has to win the game for you.
Finally, the Panther loss. The anemic offense was fully exposed. First half: punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, FG. Second half: punt, punt, punt, TD, interception. Sure, the defense surrendered 29 playoff points, but how exactly did the offense help us when it mattered most?
Sorry about the rant, but, imo, last season's defense was good enough to get us to the NFC championship game. Maybe even further. But last season's offense?