Dallas Cowboys: 5 Biggest Storylines from Opening Week

Clay DefayetteCorrespondent IIISeptember 13, 2011

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Biggest Storylines from Opening Week

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    The Dallas Cowboys had the New York Jets on the ropes at MetLife Stadium Sunday Night and found a way to blow it. Neither team ran the ball with any success in a game that had each teams' statistics eerily similar to one another.

    Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez both had two touchdowns and one interception while Romo threw for just seven more yards than his competitor. Both starting running backs averaged 2.6 yards per carry while the longest carry of the entire game went for a whopping eight yards.

    Each team had four sacks defensively and held the opposing quarterback to less than a 10 yard completion average.

    Those familiar with Dallas knew that the secondary would struggle and will continue to have issues, especially with Orlando Scandrick's injury.

    There is plenty else to react to from Sunday night, but these story lines are the biggest and will carry over into Week 2 at San Francisco.

5. Sean Lee's Performance

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    Sean Lee is the Cowboy's future middle linebacker and he may see the majority of the snaps while swapping out with Keith Brooking. Lee recorded 12 tackles while providing better coverage on LaDainian Tomlinson than Brooking could have provided. He recorded the only interception of the night for the Dallas defense and returned it 37 yards.

    Tomlinson still recorded six catches on seven targets, but Lee was throwing his body around for a defense that hasn't exactly been described as one of the more physical in the league.

    Lee's young blood may just be what Dallas needs to add intensity to a defense that already has Rob Ryan as its coordinator. A smart, disciplined Penn State graduate is just what Rob Ryan needs to have for the future of his unit.

4. Offensive Line

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    The pass rush of the New York Jets sacked Tony Romo four times Sunday. It would be understandable if they were coverage sacks, but Romo was running around early and often. The only lock on the line is left tackle Doug Free.

    The oddest thing was the lack of success on the ground. In season's past, there was no way the rushing attack would look this poor. Averaging 2.5 yards per carry isn't because of Marion Barber's absence.  Former Cowboys Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis not being on the team anymore added to the lack of effectiveness from the running game.

    Dallas could have picked up a veteran like Bryant McKinnie, but the organization has decided to not tolerate underachievers. Continuity is important up front and it will take time for this young line to establish tenure. Until more experience is acquired, Romo and Felix Jones will have a hard time operating against tough front defenses.

3. Jason Garrett

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    Jason Garrett had his first Week 1 game turn out to be a loss. The team is thought to be much more disciplined now with Jason Garrett as the head coach instead of Wade Phillips, but the team still committed seven penalties for 40 yards.

    This can't be accepted at home, nonetheless on the road against a top five defense. The team doesn't seem to miss Phillips much as far as the front seven is concerned, as DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and the team had a total of four sacks.

    Garrett's offense which he coordinates gave the ball back to the Jets three times, not including an extra fumble by Tony Romo which was recovered by the Cowboys.

    The most impressive line that will go unnoticed is 26-36, the run to pass ratio. Garrett kept calling runs even though they didn't exactly work with a 2.5 yards per carry average. Abandoning the run isn't the answer and won't be at any time this season. It's odd to give Garrett credit for a terrible rushing performance, but the offensive coordinator/head coach did not panic.

2. Good Tony Romo

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    Tony Romo played well for three quarters against a great New York Jets' pass defense. While more attention has been on his poor fourth quarter, Romo ended up with 342 yards and a quarterback rating of 101.2.

    Dez Bryant needs to stop getting injured, but Miles Austin and his hamstring looked fine on his way to five catches, 90 yards and a score. Many may want to rethink what team has the best passing attack in the NFC East if Romo and Dallas find a way to close games collectively as a team.

    The statistics Romo put up on the road with 64 yards rushing is nothing short of remarkable, especially against the better Ryan's defensive unit.

    Before Romo is written off as a bottom tier passer, I wonder if Luke McCown, Chad Henne, Philip Rivers, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Eli Manning or even Tom Brady will throw for more yards than Romo did at the Meadowlands against the Jets?

1. Bad Tony Romo

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    Romo's fumble at the goal line overshadows Jason Witten being wrestled down from behind by safety Jim Leonard and all 5'8", 185 pounds of him. There were many more things Dallas could have done as a team that would have prevented New York's comeback.

    For those saying Romo cannot perform in the clutch, the game should have never come to that. A 14 point lead should not be blown, but without being able to run the ball that can happen with turnovers and poor special teams play.

    With all that said, Tony Romo cannot put his team in that situation. If he's going to play an extraordinary game up until the fourth quarter, he has to close the deal.

    Dallas isn't a place where fans shrug off collapses like that, especially for all football fans to see during prime time. Delay of game penalties taken by Romo was just sloppy as well as an extra man in the huddle even though Jason Garrett may be more to blame for that.

    This wasn't Tony Romo failing to hold the snap against the Seattle Seahawks, but he can't keep giving people the perception that he can't close out games. Dallas wasn't expected to win, as they were a five point underdog, but they should have won.

    If you're at the store, you might as well pick up dinner. If you're on the road with a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter, you might as well close it out instead of being someone else's dinner, Romo.