For the first time this season, the Dallas Cowboys have won two games in a row. Interim head coach Jason Garrett is looking like a savior, having yet to lose a game in his short, short head coaching career.
The Cowboys are scoring an average of 34 points per game on offense and are giving up an average of 19.5 points per game on defense over their last two games.
In the eight games before Garrett, they were averaging 20 points per game on offense and 29 points per game on defense. That’s a huge difference.
Sure, one of the two victories was against a bottom feeder (Detroit Lions, 2-8), but the other victory, with an almost identical score, was over the New York Giants (6-4). With yesterday’s win over the Lions, the Cowboys also won their first home game of the season (1-4).
It’s easy to say that the Cowboys are winning now because they have a new head coach, but there is more to it than that.
Quarterback Jon Kitna didn’t look like he could get the job done at first. While he rallied the team against the Giants in the game that Romo got injured, the whole team looked flat the following two games, getting blown out by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers.
While Kitna averaged 13 yards more passing per game before Garrett took over, he also had a 2:3 interception ratio. Since Garrett took over, his ratio is now 6:1.
One of Kitna’s favorite targets is rookie Dez Bryant. Bryant had a slow start to the season, but things really started to pick up once Kitna took over. In the six games before Kitna, Bryant had one punt return touchdown and one receiving touchdown.
In the five games since Romo went down, including the first Giants game in which Romo got injured, he has one punt return touchdown and five receiving touchdowns, including a dazzling performance against the Giants the second time around.
For one reason or another, Kitna has developed a great chemistry with the rookie and both the Cowboys offense and defense is benefitting from it.
Speaking of defense, or more importantly special teams, rookie Bryan McCann has made a name for himself. He isn’t a starter on defense; he actually wasn’t even on the team to start the season, being cut in training camp.
However, he has been a big reason why the Cowboys have won their last two games. Two weeks ago at the New Meadowlands Stadium, he set a franchise record when he intercepted a would-be touchdown pass and returned it 101-yards for a touchdown, the longest in Cowboys history.
He followed that up with a 97-yard punt return, where he had to think on his feet, against the Lions. I’m sure the Cowboys are very glad they decided to bring this kid back.
Concerning the defense, they have been playing better, too. After giving up 121 points in the first two and half games post-Romo, they have clamped down and only allowed 39 points in their last two.
Is it a coincidence that the defense is playing better alongside the offense? While statistically they still rank low in most categories, they are definitely improving. They will have a chance to prove themselves over the next three weeks with games versus New Orleans, at Indianapolis, and versus Philadelphia. Three games in a row against three of the best/hottest QBs in the league.
It remains to be seen what Garrett can really do with this team. He has gotten off to the best start he could ask for considering this team was 1-7 when he took over.
His first win was a big one, the Cowboys first game at the New Meadowlands Stadium and against the division rival New York Giants. His next win could have easily been a let down game against a team with an equally bad record but he didn’t let his team sleep on him.
If Garrett can pull off some victories against some difficult opponents over the remainder of the season, it could be enough to secure at least another year for him as the head coach.
Garrett has his eye on one thing and that is to turn this team around. It looks like they are headed in the right direction.