Where to go from here?

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by Plankton, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Plankton

    Plankton Well-Known Member

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    I have to say, when I sat down last night to watch the game, I truly believed that the Cowboys were destined to win the game, and give the Seahawks all that they would want to deal with in the playoffs.

    So much for that.

    Last night was a complete, systematic collapse of the team. From the general health of the team, to the coaching, to individual play, this game cast a pretty severe and glaring light on the ills of the team. While any one game should not be used as a referendum for any given season or career, last night's loss will reverberate for a while. Here's my thoughts on the game from last night, and some thoughts on where this team needs to go in the future:

    • Last night has been reduced to Romo and his post-Christmas gift giving (more on this later). To me, the biggest story of last night was that the game was lost on the sidelines. Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan were completely undressed by Jim Haslett and the Redskin defensive staff last night. The Cowboys looked completely unprepared for dealing with a blitz, and did not look to take advantage of this aggression. The Cowboys ran no trap running plays, no draws, or even considered a traditional screen play to slow the rush. It was distressing to see free rushers getting in all night long, and nary an adjustment to counter this. A couple of things come to mind for me on this, and both are from when the Cowboys were on Hard Knocks in 2008. In a coaches meeting, Garrett is speaking about facing a defense, and letting them dictate the flow of the game. He said, no f' that, we will dictate to them. I didn't see this or anything looking like that last night. The second part was when he was addressing the offensive team in a meeting. He said, specifically to the rookie players, to "...study. If you don't know what you are doing, then you will not play here." I'll let that statement speak for itself.
    • The second big item that I took away from last night that was not a highly spoke about issue was the lack of physicality from the Cowboys on either side of the ball. The Redskins punched the Cowboys, and the Cowboys did not hit back with any authority. Often times when I watch a game, I make a note of how many players leave the game from each side to indicate who is winning the physical battle. The Cowboys, banged up to begin with, lost their top three WRs to injury, had Spencer and Albright get banged up more. The Redskins had Lichtensteiger miss a few plays, and Griffin get the wind knocked out of him, and had a safety get dinged, but suffered no significant injuries of note. To me, this is a direct result of the Redskins being more physical in this game. It showed up in the running game, with the Cowboys missing a truckload of tackles, as well as having the DL pushed all over the field.
    • The MASH unit on defense played with heart, but they were not good at all last night. 255 yards rushing was not by accident - there were schematic failures on top of mental failures all over the place. The overshifted line on defense did not work, and someone needed to tell Spencer and Ware to take Griffin on the read option, and stop crashing in. Ware, God bless him, was a warrior last night, but he hurt the team being on the field. Playing injured is not a way to help the team, and the coaching staff really needed to save the player from himself in this game.
    • I actually think that this was one of the best officiated games that I have seen in recent memory. Mainly, because they put the flags away and let the teams play. The call on Hatcher was the right one. They did get in the way of a potential snap when the Redskins were trying to substitute their units on a punt, but I believe this was because the Cowboys had run players off the field prior to this. Under the rules, the Cowboys had to allow the Redskins to substitute. At least this is how I saw it.
    • This season, the coaching staff has done a good job at halftime adjustments, as proven by their better play in the second half. Last night, they left these skills in Dallas. The second half was a carbon copy of the first half on both sides of the ball. Surprisingly, the best coaching job of the night was by the embattled Joe D on special teams, who actually gave the team a shot at winning.

    Well, the lowest hanging fruit is to be covered last. Tony Romo. Oy.

    Romo was really amped up, and it showed early. He was high with throws early, jittery in the pocket, and generally unsteady all night. Jimmy Johnson has said numerous times that the key to winning in the NFL is not how many good plays you make, but how many bad plays you avoid. This adage is one that Romo still has not grasped after seven years of being a starter. All three interceptions are on him, with bad ball placement on the first two, and a bad read of the defense on the third. Just brutal to watch. I get the feeling watching Romo that he, deep down in his soul, is not confident enough in himself, and aims passes when he is stressed by rush or a situation. It has happened far too often for this to be a coincidence.

    Romo, in many ways, is a tragic hero. I would equate him to the plight of Sisyphus in Dante's Inferno. Sisyphus was banned to hell by Zeus (with the help of Hermes) because of his tricky ways, and his punishment was a lifetime of pushing a boulder up a hill, and just as he is ready to push it completely to the top, the boulder rolls over him, back down to the bottom, with Sisyphus needing to resume the task from the beginning. The question here is whether the boulder for Romo is the responsibility of carrying the load offensively, or whether it's the burden of his previous failure.

    Going forward, with the assumption that there is no coaching staff erosion, here's what I would prescribe that the Cowboys do:

    • Franchise Spencer again, and look to trade him. He had a great year, and his stock has never been higher. With a youth infusion needed, this would be a good place to start, as he would need to demonstrate that he is capable of more seasons like this.
    • Do not extend Romo. Let him play out the last year of his contract. The soon to be 33 year old is what he is: a compiler of stats who does not trust himself in the big spot.
    • Rebuild the offensive line, and make DeMarco Murray the focal point of this offense. Romo has proven that he cannot carry this team beyond contending for a division title. To contend for playoff success, they need to relieve the pressure from him, and invest in the running game. I would target Andy Levitre and Phil Loadholt in free agency to bolster the run game, and look to add a running back to share the load with Murray. Felix Jones is not that guy.
    • Call Jeff Ireland in Miami, and offer him Miles Austin in a trade. They have a ton of cap room, 5 picks in the top 100, and a crying need for a WR. Austin's hamstrings will like the warm air of Miami, and Ireland was one of the members of the Cowboy braintrust who brought him on board. Sounds like a great potential fit.
    • Go DL/OLB heavy up top in the draft. They need good, strong young players up front, which they do not have a large supply of.
    • Note that I left Jones stepping down as GM in this list. No point in mentioning something that won't happen.
    • Let Garrett make the decision as to whether to add a play caller or not. He needs to be in control of his team, and if Jones is making him add a play caller, then he should quit.

    Here's a suggested path for the 2013 draft (with no additional picks from the above trade possibilities, or compensatory picks):

    1st Round - DT Jesse Williams - Alabama - Stout run player with a winning pedigree.
    2nd Round - OLB Chase Thomas - Stanford - RKG who is a strong all around linebacker. Needs to develop pass rush, but is strong in all areas.
    3rd Round - QB Zac Dysert - Miami (Oh) - Get Romo's future replacement on board now.
    4th Round - DE Margus Hunt - SMU - Add a pass rushing threat from the DE position in the 3-4. Needs to get more stout against the run.
    5th Round - C Braxston Cave - Notre Dame - Strong interior player who can also play guard.
    6th Round - S Shamarko Thomas - Syracuse - Adds competition at safety.

    Well, this is one man's view - thoughts?
  2. TwoDeep3

    TwoDeep3 Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    Romo is asked to do too much. You have some very good points.

    If the braintrust figures out that putting the game on Romo's back gets you interceptions on screens that should never have been thrown, then they will start to figure out how to use this guy.

    Control him and his situations. Don't allow the pressure of the rush, or the game, become so big he loses focus and makes bad decisions.

    That comes from building an offensive line that is a road grader and moves the defense, and a defense that can dominate.

    Then you limit the types of pass plays to only those that Romo throws well since he has accuracy problems.

    Romo could win a championship, but it has to be through a team built to protect him from himself and not get into situations where he gets rattled.
  3. juck

    juck Well-Known Member

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    Problem is Demarco gets hurt a lot.
  4. HardHittin'Witten

    HardHittin'Witten This ain't Madden

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    To the liquor store.
  5. Plankton

    Plankton Well-Known Member

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    Which is why I would look to add another back to share the load.0
  6. CaptainMorgan

    CaptainMorgan Well-Known Member

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    Really nice post Plankton and some good ideas. I like the Austin to Miami scenario, I really think they would bite.
  7. Plankton

    Plankton Well-Known Member

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    I agree that they have to relieve the burden of the offense's success from him.

    The only thing that I am concerned with at this point is glass jaw syndrome with Romo.

    How many failures can he experience in games such as these before he no longer believes that he can get it done? Forget what the fans and prognosticators say - if he doesn't believe in himself, it's all a moot point.

    Sadly, I think he may be there at this point. Which is why he needs to be relieved of having to carry the offense, and the Cowboys need to find his successor now.
  8. Word Mofo

    Word Mofo Active Member

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    How can you suggest to rebuild the offensive line yet not suggest we draft a single O-Line player? Signing FA O-Line players is not this front office's strong suit
  9. CaptainMorgan

    CaptainMorgan Well-Known Member

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    neither is drafting them so we are screwed.
  10. lane

    lane The Chairman

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    cliff notes
  11. KJJ

    KJJ You Have an Axe to Grind

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    I wish I would have sat down with whatever you were cuddling up with because I never believed that for even a second.
  12. lane

    lane The Chairman

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  13. Mr Cowboy

    Mr Cowboy Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    This, this right here. I totally agree with it. Very well put.
  14. DandyDon1722

    DandyDon1722 It's been a good 'un, ain't it?

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    I have to admit I was sure we were going to win. I saw someone had made a post yesterday about how they played college ball at a high level and that he couldn't explain it but he just knew when his team was going to win a game and he felt the same way last night and so did I. The whole day I felt good. I've seen commentators say the same thing, some thought it was a lock.

    It was brutally disappointing to say the least. Tony was bad at the worst time, no excuses. We also got out coached and made no adjustments.

    In any case nice post. I agree 100 % with the Spencer move -- can't trust him. This is the same guy who admits he took plays off last year, and now with a contract year he plays lights out. I like the Miles move too and I think they would bite and I bet he would be good with them.

    I believe the culture has changed which is hard to do and you must credit JG with that but the X's and O's haven't. Until that happens we are what we are.
  15. CowboysYanksLakers

    CowboysYanksLakers Well-Known Member

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    Draft a QB like Geno Smith and upgrade both lines on defense and offense.
  16. Plankton

    Plankton Well-Known Member

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    Did you miss the Braxston Cave pick? I also had them sign a replacement RG and RT in free agency.
  17. Mr Cowboy

    Mr Cowboy Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    I would take upgrading both lines and take my chances with Romo.
  18. Plankton

    Plankton Well-Known Member

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    I can understand why you felt that way. This time felt different to me. I was at the Giant debacle in 2011, and felt like it was a loss all the way. To me, a hobbled Griffin meant a more limited offense from Washington.

    It was just that - and the defense couldn't stop that single dimension. Couple that with the mind numbing play from Romo and the inability of the coaching staff to adjust, and you have the end of the season.
  19. punchnjudy

    punchnjudy Well-Known Member

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    I agree with a lot of what you said, but Romo just never looked comfortable in the pocket to me. After the early stages of the game, I really don't think it was the importance of the game that affected him. We can go round and round with that, but the constant in all the games people mention is that the teams that beat Romo and the Cowboys did a good job of disrupting his rhythm. NY, Minn, Philly, and Washington were all able to get in his face a lot. Had they played softer, I don't think he would have played poorly just because of the situation.

    With that said, I agree that the offense won't be fixed just by upgrading the OL. They're an easy target (for good reason), but the top defenses are going to generate pressure with a blitz if necessary. Going forward, my question is whether the collective talents at qb, wr, rb, and the scheme itself allow for the offense to effectively handle a quality blitzing defense even with a competent OL. I think they need to step back and look at it holistically because for whatever reason this is an area where Dallas has struggled since its last super bowl. I can remember having discussions about Dallas' inability to burn the blitz well before Troy retired. So I don't have any answers, but I agree that there's more to it than adding a few quality fat guys (though upgrading the OL is a no-brainer).

    I said last year they should rely on the running game more, and they definitely should, but until they can effectively strike fear into the more talented aggressive defenses I don't see them doing much in the post-season. That's doubly true if the defense still doesn't generate many turnovers, which it wasn't doing even when healthy.
  20. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Sure it will. Anything to improve the running game will only make the passing game stronger. It will also keep your QB from running for his life each game.

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