DVR saved my butt this week since I had to work and missed the live game, but checking it out last night was certainly worth staying up late.
The first team offense looked good. I was surprised at how good they looked actually, but before I get into that, I just have one thing to say – “False start, everyone but the center.” That was freaking hilarious!
Speaking of false starts and penalties in general, in the first half the Special Teams unit took the cake. First of all, wiping out that 78 yard kickoff return from Austin because of a penalty was just retarded; it’s the kind of mistakes we have got to cut down on. We finished the game with 11 penalties for 107 yards, but the first half, when the starters were playing, special teams had three for 35 yards, the defense had two for 20 yards, and the offense had two for 15 yards.
But it was nice to see our starters come out on offense and literally dominate the Titans defense, that is of course after they got the three and out over with to start the game.
They came back and orchestrated a 16 play drive that spanned 90 yards and netted the first touchdown of the game. The whole time I’m watching I’m thinking about what has changed since last year. It’s not just about the players either; even Jason Garrett was on my mind as I followed each snap.
Last year we all saw that Garrett had issues mixing up the run and pass, sometimes he didn’t do one enough and others he did one too much. That first drive started on the ground with Marion Barber pounding it out, and it was good too because he was gaining solid yards on each run. But once Tony Romo was cut loose the team started moving downfield.
It wasn’t a quick progression though; we didn’t just lob a deep pass into the endzone. Instead they took their time and consumed nearly 10 minutes off the clock. From then on my worries about how the starting offense and defense would do kind of faded away as I waited to see who’d kick the video board first.
By my count, the Cowboys were a little pass heavy the first half. They ran 13 times and threw the ball 19 times. But it was a good mix that kept the Titans defense working. Only on two plays did I see Romo under pressure early, and one of those times he threw the ball away, another time he completed a pass. He still had his dancing feet but the line gave him enough time to set up in the pocket, look over his receivers and pick the open guy.
What’s probably most impressive about that is Romo actually used the pocket when it held up for him. He didn’t at any point just start running around trying to make the play, he waited and let the plays develop, and then shot the ball out like a cannon. We all know he’s got a quick release, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen it that quick.
Another thing we saw that we haven’t seen from Dallas in a couple of years was an even coverage across the field on ball distribution. They didn’t just look left each play. They ran up the middle, to both sides, and threw the same way – there really was no predictability that the Titans could capitalize on.
I did see a couple of things that bothered me in the game, like the special teams either missing tackles, unnecessary penalties like Sensabaugh shoving the guy further out of bounds, or simply dumb choices by returners. Look at Kevin Ogletree’s first return, he was full steam ahead when he ran into the back of his own blocker, the first guy he reached on the field.
And what about Patrick Crayton dropping the punt … good thing he got back on it fast. But in general, the special teams unit allowed a little too much on just about every return by the Titans.
Just two more things for me, first is that Felix Jones is damn fast. You don’t even see him coming. Very elusive and hard to catch from any angle – he will certainly be trouble for any defense we face this year.
And last is Kevin Ogletree, he may have chosen a bad lane on that one return, but he got involved in the passing game late. He was the biggest factor on a late drive and displayed some good hands for his touchdown pass. You might already know that I’m not a big supporter of Isaiah Stanback with his injuries and un-astounding play even when healthy, but now I really think it’s time for him to go.
Our receiving corps should line up like so:
- Roy Williams
- Patrick Crayton
- Sam Hurd
- Miles Austin
- Kevin Ogletree
Too bad I’m not a coach or that’d be a done deal.
And a special mention to Mr. Fourth and Long – I suppose if you’re going to screw up and let a ball bounce off your facemask, it’s best if you at least end up with the ball. Maybe we could avoid letting a defender catch it, even if only for a moment, before actually securing it though. Just a thought.