Dallas Cowboys: The Good, Bad and Ugly of First 4 Games
So, exactly how ugly has it become for the Dallas Cowboys through the first four games? Two wins and two losses where we have witnessed four vastly different ballclubs on the field.
Against the Giants in Week 1, Dallas looked almost championship ready. They were poised, ready for battle and had a Super Bowl like focus.
In Week 2, the Cowboys traveled to Seattle and were straight man-handled.
Week 3, Dallas beat the Bucs but it was a "meh" type of victory.
And on Monday night against the Bears, well, you know the outcome. Romo tossed five interceptions, and Dallas fans across the nation cried themselves to sleep.
So now we have entered the bye week for Dallas and there is probably some soul searching going on at Valley Ranch.
But before we go into analyzing what has gone wrong with Dallas and what needs to change, let's delve into something else.
The good, the bad and the downright ugly parts of their season.
Enjoy your bye week, Cowboys fans.
GOOD– Cowboys Secondary
Believe it or not, I actually think the Cowboys defensive backfield has performed well. Newly signed cornerback Brandon Carr held Giants receiver Victor Cruz to just 58 yards receiving, and when Dallas played the Bucs, he took Tampa's 6'5" receiver Vincent Jackson out of the game.
Mike Jenkins has come back and played well, and rookie Morris Claiborne is developing at a pretty good pace as well.
Their hiccup came against the Bears where Brandon Marshall made them look silly. He caught seven balls for 138 yards and one touchdown. He has been their only blot so far.
I believe this unit of the defense will continue to get better as they play and grow together.
BAD– Jason Witten
So, early in the preseason, All-Pro tight end Jason Witten lacerated his spleen. It was believed that he would be away for some time as an injured spleen usually takes time to heal.
Being the football warrior that he's known to be, Witten returned for the first game of the season against the Giants.
He was more of a decoy than help in that game. He only caught two balls and dropped his fair share as well.
His struggles continued until Monday night against Chicago, a game the Cowboys lost. Witten caught 13 passes for 112 yards and one score. He finally looked comfortable and proved that his time as an elite tight end wasn't over.
If we were to visit this topic again later in the season, Witten would be in the good category. But because he got off to such a slow start, he stands with the rest of the players in the "bad" category.
UGLY– Felix Jones
Here is Jones' stat line for the season: three carries for 13 yards and no touchdowns.
Jones had a 13-yard run against Chicago, which accounts for all of his 2012 yards on the ground.
Dallas head coach Jason Garrett doesn't trust his backup running back and rarely uses him in offensive situations. He is still returning kicks, when not fumbling, and has some sort of impact on the game.
But so far, he has had an ugly 2012 season.
GOOD– Tony Romo
Let us take out the five-interception performance from Romo on Monday night and look at what he did before Week 4.
He did very well against the Giants, tossing three touchdowns and going for over 300 yards passing.
Dallas doesn't have much going on offense besides Mr. Romo. DeMarco Murray is struggling behind an inexperienced offensive line and receiver Dez Bryant has yet to fully grasp the offense it seems.
Because of Romo the Cowboys have two wins.
In their losses, he has looked off. Against Seattle, he was running for his life. Because the Cowboys were outgunned and outmanned, there was not much of anything that Romo could do.
The Bears game is a monster on its own because of his five turnovers. Of Romo's five interceptions, I will say that he made bad decisions on two of them. The Lance Briggs "interception" should have been ruled a fumble, and Kevin Ogletree and Dez Bryant were to blame for the other two.
But no matter the number of turnovers, Romo is still the Cowboys' best chance of winning a title.
BAD– Dez Bryant
This was supposed to be the year for Bryant. He was supposed to break out and have a super season where he emerged as the team's top receiving target.
That has not happened as Bryant has struggled to get free from defenders and run the correct routes.
He has yet to score a touchdown and through four weeks has only managed 269 receiving yards.
Bryant had a career-high 105 receiving yards against the Bears, but he had three drops to go along with it.
It is time for Bryant to prove why the Cowboys have invested so much time and energy into his development. I still believe in Bryant and his ability to take over games. We are just waiting for him to do it.
UGLY– Cowboys Offensive Line
Against the Giants, the line looked OK. Seahawks? Manhandled. Bucs? Shaky. Bears? Small growth.
In essence, the Cowboys offensive line has been about as inconsistent as Big Bird's job security if Mitt Romney is elected president.
Growth is a good word to use for these men, because that is exactly what is happening with them right now. Yes, there is struggle. The entire line can't seem to understand the snap count at times.
But while their overall performance has been putrid at times, we have witnessed bright spots, such as no false starts on Monday night, and Romo didn't have his head taken off like it was against the Bucs.
Another test against the Ravens will show and prove just how far this unit has come and will go.
GOOD– Sean Lee
Outside of DeMarcus Ware, Lee has morphed into the second-most important defensive player for the Cowboys.
Against the Bears, he led the team with 14 tackles. He is always all over the field and has great vision.
For the year, he's leading Dallas with 47 tackles through four games.
He is surely headed toward Hawaii for a Pro Bowl and will be minted All-Pro very soon. Lee has become a very important piece of the Cowboys defense that becomes a different unit when he's not on the field.
Just to give a synopsis of what we've seen with Dallas so far this season, they have lost safety Barry Church for the year with a torn ACL and nose tackle Jay Ratliff is still nursing a high ankle sprain from the preseason.
Starting center Phil Costa has a bad back, safety Gerald Sensabaugh has a sore calf and Miles Austin's entire body just hurts.
I am sure that Tony Romo has an injury somewhere as much as he his thrown around.
Injuries are just a part of the game for any NFL team. The sign of a great team is when they are able to thrive through some of the season's toughest parts, such as an injury to a star player.
The Cowboys aren't there yet, but losing a starting safety for the season and missing a starting nose tackle is tough to overcome.
Dallas is last in the NFC in points per game. The Cowboys score 16.2 points per game and only 67 rushing yards per contest.
Not a good recipe for winning games.
Dallas has to do a better job creating red-zone opportunities to score more points. Sounds very simplistic, but it is the truth. The Cowboys are either punting the ball away or turning it over.
If the offense can't score points, maybe it's up to the defense to create turnovers and score points.
But if Dallas can't figure out a way to put more points on the board, I'm afraid that Jason Garrett may be soon browsing the want ads.
The good thing for Dallas, right now, is that they are 2-2 and tied for second in the division. Because they are entering a bye week, they may very well hold second place in the singular instead of plural depending on the outcomes of games on Sunday.
The NFC East isn't exactly scaring teams away, so Dallas fans should take solace in knowing that their team plays in a fairly even division.
BAD– Division II
Yes, the Cowboys are in an even division, and yes any team may end up winning the division crown at season's end. However, the Eagles seem to have more talent, and the Giants will have revenge on their minds in a couple of weeks when they travel to Cowboys Stadium.
Washington always plays Dallas tough, and the Cowboys barely won their two games against each other in 2011.
Don't look now, but judging by the Cowboys' recent play, Dallas could very well end up 1-5 in the NFC East.
UGLY– Lack of Physical Nature
Back in the day, the Cowboys were known for being physical and knocking teams off of the field.
Now, Dallas is the team being kicked around and thrown off the field.
That has to change for Dallas. Any team believes that they can just play physical with Dallas and the Cowboys will wither
The Cowboys have enough physical guys, see DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, Jay Ratliff and Jason Witten, to change that mindset around.
Their season depends on some type of change, and as I see it, the Cowboys are soft.
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