Count This as a W, as in "W-ugly"

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Count This as a W, as in "W-ugly"

Post by Cowboy1959 on Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:52 pm


It's time to coin a new word for Cowboys victories that are as homely as the one they managed over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field today:  W-ugly.

How else can you characterize the emotion you get from a win like this?  It was a game only a mother could love, and yet Cowboys fans are rejoicing tonight over another one of those "a-'W'-is-a-'W'" victories that seem to be all too common for a franchise for whom winning was once as much of a habit as putting on pads.

The Cowboys got what they needed--most of it from the Redskins--to pick up their first win of the season, 27-23.  They needed every break they could get, and the Redskins were obliging hosts, handing out breaks like candy to their out-of-town guests.

Redskins' QB Kirk Cousins missed two wide open receivers on long passes, and threw another potential TD into the waiting arms of Barry Church (who DID make a nice read on the play to get into the path of the ball from Cousins to intended receiver Pierre Garcon).  Without that bit of charity--or incompetence--the Redskins would have had 21 more points and the story would be the Cowboys' 0-2 start.

The Cowboys left points on the field as well, still coming up short in the red zone at least twice when they couldn't punch the ball in from close range.  The Cowboys' OL continues to be overrated and underachieving, and this is starting to become a disturbing pattern.  Still, the Cowboys were able to make plays on both sides of the ball when they needed them and came away with a win, however unimpressive it looks in the grand scheme of trying to become a playoff contender.

But we'll take it.

Watching the game today, here's what I think I saw:

1.  Sean Lee played what had to be the worst game of his life since the day he first put on a helmet.  He was constantly out of position--or quickly running himself out of the play.  It seemed that every time the Redskins had a big gainer you could see Lee trailing badly and playing catch-up.

2.  Related to that, our LBs look very ordinary.  Maybe they're being asked to do more than their share to compensate for a weak front four, but they often looked like they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It looked like Marinelli may have had them playing back a little further in order to close on the ball, but if that was the plan it wasn't executed very well because the LBs were getting beat both short and long.

3.  The Cowboys' D looks very soft right up the middle.  The Redskins were making good yardage there early, much like the Giants were late in last week's game.  The Cowboys need to firm up that middle, and if they don't go something like DL, DL, LB, DB, DL, LB, DB in the draft I think Marinelli ought to hand in his resignation.  This team is not a championship contender with a defense this weak, and they're getting exactly what they paid for on that side of the ball.  The 2017 offseason needs to be about finding defensive talent at almost every position.  Yes, they'll probably be better once our bad boys get back from suspension, but do you really think that Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence scare any self-respecting offensive coordinators?

4.  Dak Prescott continues to amaze.  One thing I like about his game already is that he doesn't look panicky like Romo has pretty much always looked when things start to break down.  Yes, Romo has made a lot of great plays in sandlot mode, but he's also made more than a few misfires over the years when he starts moving faster than he can think.  The thing about Dak is that he has an almost Zen-like calm in the face of guys bearing down on him, and he made a couple of nice throws with defenders in his face.  I think he kept the offense in the game when things looked like they were slipping away in the second half, and even if he didn't always make the perfect decision, he never made the disastrous one.

5.  It was nice to see Dez back on form, but I need to see more than one game every so often to be convinced that he's returning to an elite level.  Right now I'd say he's above average--maybe even better than that--but he's not one of the Top 5 receivers in the league.  He needs to make plays on a consistent basis, and to win a higher percentage of the battles for the ball.  He hasn't done that consistently since 2014, and if the Cowboys are going to be a big-time offense he needs to step up his game.

6.  We started seeing a glimpse of the future with Dak and Zeke, but Zeke's late-game fumbling has to be a concern.  I think Garrett was right to bench him for the last 6 minutes, but we didn't spend the 4th pick in the draft on a guy who'd be sitting it out at crunch time.  Whatever his problem today, he needs to correct it quickly, and it won't surprise me if Garrett announces Morris as the starter next week.  Zeke's fine play was actually bookended by negatives in the first and fourth quarters--in the first quarter, his body looked out of control, and he slipped twice and almost slipped another couple of times.  I'm wondering if he changed shoes, because he looked a lot better in subsequent drives.  And, of course, there was the fumbling in the latter part of the game.  Whether he's feeling extra pressure to perform, or he's still experience the effects of missing most of training camp, he needs to take a step back and take stock of his game.  I have no doubt that he'll get better as the season moves along, but right now it's painful waiting for him to get into his groove.

7.  Jason Garrett had an aggressive game plan for once, and it paid off.  Yes, the onside kick was poorly executed, but at least he took a chance.  However, I do think that that wasn't the best time for such a call.  The Cowboys had just seized back momentum (and the lead) after Washington came shooting out of the gate in the second half, and that was a bad place to risk giving up good field position.  I absolutely loved those play-action bootlegs that they were running on first downs, and the Redskins didn't figure out what was going on until late in the game.  Dak's youth and physical skills make him a little unpredictable for opposing defenses, and we're reaping the benefit of it so far.  I'm sure defenses will catch up to him sooner or later, but for now the Cowboys are being imaginative and creative.

8.  Geoff Swaim's emergence as a target seems to add more writing on the wall for Gavin Escobar.  I think his Cowboys career will last only until James Hanna gets back.

9.  Nice to see Lance Dunbar get some opportunities, and I think he's still a valuable weapon for us.

10.  Dan Bailey.

11.  Hard to figure out if the win makes the Cowboys more or less impatient for Romo's return.  Would they be more likely to rush him back if they're 5-3, or 3-5?  I can see it both ways.  On the one hand, they have to be very heartened by Dak's early play, but on the other they are probably still expecting him to only keep the team in position to make a run once Romo gets back.  There's emerging talk that Dak may well be playing at a level that can keep Romo on the bench, and that would certainly be a nice problem to have, so if that's true, what does today's victory do to the Cowboys' thinking?

Maybe that's getting ahead of ourselves.  After all, it's only one win.  One ugly win.  But, hey...a "W" is a "W", right?

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Re: Count This as a W, as in "W-ugly"

Post by lgkehoe on Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:33 pm

Good post, as usual.

I have a few takeaways from the game, and two stand out the most...this defensive line cannot generate any significant pressure. Teams with a better QB will slice this defense into unidentifiable pieces. While I was watching the Vikings defense, I could not help but envy a fan base who knows they have a sub offense but can still feel optimistic about a win over Aaron Rogers. Green Bay will kill this defense. I am not sure DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory make that much of a difference, but I'm hoping. I am also hoping Tapper can be a contributor as a rookie (with no camp, etc.) One thing we can say about this defensive line is that there is plenty of room for hope.

The second most troubling unit, like `59 pointed out, is the line backing corp. In all fairness, the defense was in big dime packages for much of the day. But I think that very well may be to compensate for not having any great cover LBs to deal with Reed. Lee used to be very decent in coverage, but his best days might be behind him. Or, quite possibly, he is having to do too much to make up for the less than average play around him. I'm not sure. All I know is this is one of the weakest LB units for a team with post season aspirations. Romo's absence has nothing to do with this team's unlikelihood of going far. This defense is less than mediocre. This defense is really bad.

Thank goodness for the surprises in the secondary. These DBs are playing fairly well. Ignore the blown coverage on a couple of plays. That can happen. Are they playing well enough to beat a team with a good QB? Not until they can get more disruptive in the backfield.

Were there receptions by a wide out besides Dez and Cole? This is another questionable unit on the team.

Zeke will be fine. One of the fumbles was actually a nice play by the defender. He'll find that rhythm with the line. They actually did make some nice holes, but Zeke was late before they closed quickly. Until the passing game makes defenses pay for crowding the line, his running will have to be near perfect. I do wish the coaches would run more zone/stretch plays for him (especially to the right). This line's strength is in their athleticism. They get better leverage when they are moving their feet and can get the defenders off theirs. But, I think the the offensive line and the running game will be just fine as the season progresses. I expect we'll see some of that greatness against the Bears as they now have to plan for a QB who can find Dez.

I'll take the win for all its W-ugliness, because it provides more reason to get excited about Prescott. I never had any delusions about this being a championship year, but I thought the Cowboys were closer than they actually are. At least we're not as bad off as the Redskins. They're bad!
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