The Cowboys earned an important division win on the road against the rival Eagles yesterday. It may have also been a victory that saved their 2012 season as they move forward. The Cowboys currently sit at 4-5 and in second place with five of their final seven games at home. Not to mention that they don’t have to go on the road for the next month with the Browns, Redskins and Eagles next up before a trip to Cincinnati in mid-December.
Although it was a nice win against the Eagles, I’m not about to get all warm and fuzzy considering how the Cowboys have been playing and their history of losing in December. Let’s not forgot that the game yesterday was 17-17 going into the fourth quarter. If not for Dwayne Harris’ punt return and Brandon Carr’s interception return this game could have gone either way. These Cowboys teams have let us fans down way too many times for me to get all excited because they finally broke a two game losing streak. If they are the truly the team that they keep telling everyone that they are then they will take advantage of the situation that is in front of them get on a roll now.
What bothers me is that once again the Cowboys committed 13 penalties yesterday. Many were offside penalties from the defense on third down that allowed the Eagles to keep their drive going. Morris Claiborne had his worst game in his short career, but he is a rookie and is going to have some growing pains. These are things that can be corrected which are good signs for the defense. One the positives coming out of yesterday’s win is how Bruce Carter is growing into an elite middle linebacker. He has taken control of the defense with Sean Lee out and has shown what kind of player and leader he can be for the Cowboys.
On offense it’s another story. I heard this description of this Cowboys offense yesterday. It was called a “Grab Bag” offense, which fits them perfectly. This unit, led by Jason Garrett has no identity at all. They don’t know if they are a running offense, passing offense or even somewhere in the middle. It just seems as though Garrett uses his play sheet as a grab bag during the game. Before every snap he reaches into the bag and whatever he pulls out is what they run. It has created issues all season for the Cowboys offense and will continue to cause issues as the season moves on unless something is done. Maybe things will improve once DeMarco Murray returns from his foot injury, which is hopefully very soon. Although Felix Jones did play a very nice game yesterday, he still needs to prove he can do those things week after week. Tony Romo’s security blanket continues to be Jason Witten with eight receptions against the Eagles. Romo needs to open it up more with his other receivers and bring this offense to another level, but that in the hands of Garrett as he struggles with an identity for this Cowboys offense.
The time is now for Garrett to decide what he wants to do with this offense. If he wants it to be a pass first offense then he needs to start getting more creative with his offensive weapons. Start creating more plays for Cole Beasley in the slot. Maybe more plays for Romo to roll-out to create something down field. If Garrett wants to run the ball first then he needs to start using Lawrence Vickers more. He has proven that he is a quality fullback and can lead the other runners to daylight. I think the problem is that Garrett doesn’t know how to put his offensive players into position to have success.
With the win over the Eagles yesterday and with the Giants struggling, the Cowboys have a great opportunity to make a move and possibly make a run at the division title. The question is can they correct the things like penalties, poor tackling and lack of identity so that they can take advantage of the situation that’s in front of them? The defense is going to continue to improve. I have no doubt about that. It’s the offense that worries me. Even with how bad they have been playing recently they have a golden opportunity to make something of their season. I’ll be watching, but will hold off on the warm and fuzzies for a while until I see some changes, especially from Garrett and his grab bag offense.