Dallas Cowboys: 10 Fixes After a Disastrous Loss to Washington Redskins
Last night, the Dallas Cowboys suffered the most crushing defeat this side of the Detroit Lions.
Tony Romo hit Roy Williams for the game-winning touchdown, only to have it taken away with a holding call on Alex Barron. Barron mugged Brian Orakpo with a choke hold-esque move after another blatant hold right before that.
It's a crushing loss and not the way Dallas wanted to start off the season, especially with all of the Super Bowl expectations. Losing a division game to start the season is a big step back.
With that in mind, here are 10 ways Dallas can avoid having this happen to them again.
No. 10: Stop Forcing it to Dez Bryant
For a guy who missed most of the preseason, Dez Bryant looked spectacular.
Bryant made eight grabs for 56 yards last night and he showed why he was so coveted by teams coming into the draft. The former Oklahoma State player showed off his size and strength, especially in his hands. There were a few plays where he just ripped the ball into his possession.
However, it felt like sometimes the Cowboys just tried to get it to Bryant too much. They'd force it to Bryant and Washington started to key on that. With the success they were having with Miles Austin, I'm shocked he didn't get more looks than he did.
No. 9: Improve Playcalling Late in Drives
For a large part of the game, Dallas was moving the ball up the field. In fact, the Cowboys were inside the Redskins 40-yard line on three of their first four possessions.
However, once they got there, the playcalling changed, as it has time after time under Wade Phillips. I don't know what it is about Dallas, but once they get into the opposing team's side of the field, the playcalling is awful and they lock up.
The Cowboys got down the field with a lot of screens but then avoid the same looks once they get down the field. If Dallas wants to put more points up than it did this week, they have to be a little more daring with its playcalling.
You have weapons, use them.
No. 8: Reduce Penalties
If you want to win in the NFL, there is no way that you can commit that many penalties during a game. Those 12 penalties added up to 91 yards, including Alex Barron's holding call on the final play.
Barron committed a few penalties yesterday and will be the villain in Dallas today, but he wasn't the only one guilty of a bad penalty. Look back at Miles Austin's horrendous false start just to point out another guilty party. The Cowboys played sloppy, undisciplined football, and that's a sign of poor coaching.
Wade Phillips needs to do a better job of preparing his team. Well-coached teams don't commit penalties like that. If Dallas had a better coach, they'd have won last night. Wade needs to stop his game up, because patience has to be wearing thin in Dallas.
No. 7: Keep Up Defensive Intensity
The bright spot is that Dallas' defense looked great last night. The Cowboys were bailed out a few times by their defense, who kept Dallas in the game all night.
The only touchdown scored was thanks to a turnover by the offense, and Donovan McNabb and the Redskins offense were held to only six points last night. Washington's run game was able to find some holes late in the game, but you couldn't really ask for more from a defense.
One thing that has to change is that Dallas needs to pressure the quarterback. McNabb was only sacked once all night and the Cowboys have to get to the quarterback because their corners can't withstand that little pressure.
No. 6: Spread The Ball
If you look at the stat sheet for Dallas' wideouts, a couple things will stand out.
One is that Miles Austin and Dez Bryant had 10 and eight catches each last night. The other is that no one else even comes close. The most catches after Bryant would be Jason Witten's three grabs.
The duo had over half of Romo's completions last night, and I think Dallas has to spread the ball around to its other wideouts. It's not like they don't have players who can make plays. Tony Romo needs to spread the wealth to keep the defense honest.
That being said, the wideouts need to do a better job of getting open.
No. 5: Protect The Ball
Winning the turnover battle is one of the things that can swing a game in your favor and last night Dallas lost that battle. It’s even worse when a turnover leads to a touchdown for another team, and that's what happened when Tashard Choice's fumble went back to the house at the end of the first half.
You have to protect the ball and Dallas didn't do it last night, and it turned the entire tide of the game. There are plenty of moments where the Cowboys can point to and say it helped bring them down, but that turnover was a huge moment in the game.
Which reminds me...
No. 4: Be Smart at the End of the Half
Memo to Wade Phillips: When you have no chance of scoring, run the clock out.
Instead, Dallas ran a pass play that got flipped to Choice, who fumbled and it was run back for a touchdown. It went from a three-point game to a 10-point game and it changed the entire dynamic of the game in the second half.
When you're keeping an offense off of the board, you can't give a team cheap points by committing a bad turnover, especially when you had an option to run the clock off. Wade Phillips told the media after the game that he should have run the clock out.
Hindsight is 20/20, but hindsight can get you fired.
No. 3: Cut Alex Barron
I know offensive line depth is thin at the moment, but you can pick someone up that can play better than Alex Barron.
What makes it worse is that you traded linebacker Bobby Carpenter for him. Just cut your losses and let him hit the market. Barron just committed so many penalties last night and it's not even like they were close. His holding penalties were just muggings on the line of scrimmage.
The worst part about the final penalty is that Barron had help behind him and had he not held him, the help would have picked Brian Orakpo up and maybe they still score the touchdown.
It's a got-to-go situation for Alex Barron.
No. 2: Get Marc Colombo Back
The man who Alex Barron was in for is still out nursing surgery after a knee injury, and the only reason Colombo didn't play was the fact that he didn't practice and the team wanted to be safe instead of sorry.
Dallas is hopeful that he'll play next week according to reports and they better hope so, because unlike Alex Barron, Colombo is a rock on the offensive line and will greatly improve Tony Romo's time in the pocket when he goes back to pass.
Not only that, but it should do wonders for Dallas' confidence. You know they didn't have any faith in Barron to make a play for them and it showed why at the end of the game. Colombo will change that.
No. 1: Run The Ball
You can't throw the ball 48 times and expect to win a football game.
Dallas did a horrendous job of trying to keep the Redskins honest with its playcalling yesterday, and it showed. Marion Barber and Felix Jones got eight carries a piece last night, and both averaged almost five yards per carry.
Why not keep running if you're getting some success with it? It was just an awful job of running an offense and you couldn't even help Romo out by throwing a couple of playfakes into the system. Just hand the ball off to your running backs and open up your offense.
Tony Romo just can't be throwing like that every week.
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