Dallas has been stuck at 8-8 the last two seasons and after two games, should anyone be surprised they are 1-1? On pace to win half their games.
A look at the numbers can tell what’s working early in the season and what is not working yet. It’s not all bad news but it’s not all good either. And there is time to improve.
Offense Rushing: 62 yds/game. NFL Rank: 26
Let’s start with some bad news. Dallas still hasn’t figured out how to run the ball yet and until they do, they may be fortunate to go 8-8 again. This weakness stood out in their loss to the Chiefs when they pretty much abandoned the run early and put it on Romo. How that work out? Not too good. The Cowboys are rushing for a modest 3.2 yards per attempt so far in 2013.
The blame? Plenty to go around.
-An offensive line that wasn’t as upgraded in the offseason as it should have been.
-Lack of commitment to run the ball. We are told that Callahan is calling the plays now but also that Romo has a lot of autonomy to change plays at the line. To me, it just looks like the same old mess as last year. Try a few runs then “heck with it”.
-Only Murray seems to get carries but I think it would help to get others involved like Dunbar and the rookie Randle who wasn’t even active for the game last week. Randle is not injured but word is his pass blocking needs to be better. Well if you ask me, our run game needs to be better and Randle could help the team with that.
Dishing the Real Grade: D Needs major improvement.
Offense Passing: 263 yds/game. NFL rank: 16
At first glance, this may not appear too weak but when you drill down a little farther, Dallas is only getting 6.2 yards per pass attempt which puts them at 26th in the NFL. It proves what many fans already suspect. They aren’t throwing the ball down the field. A lot of “dink and dunk” passing if you will.
Want farther proof Romo is throwing short passes? The Cowboys have the highest completion percentage in the NFL at 72.5%. No that isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but when you combine it with the 6.2 yards per pass, clearly this offense is not stretching the field at all.
Could that allow defenses to load up close to the line and stop their run game? Based on their pitiful performance of a run game, I think we are on to something.
Dallas better start taking some shots deep so safeties can’t load the box for the run.
Dishing the Real grade: C. On their way to 8-8 once again if they keep passing like this.
Defense Rushing: Allowing 82 yds/game. NFL rank: 11
This is one area where I think Dallas is doing a good job. They haven’t allowed a lot of rushing yards and have made opposing offenses fairly one-dimensional.
However late in the Chiefs game, the defense didn’t stop the run when they needed to get the ball back. Even knowing the Chiefs would run, they allowed them to pick up first downs. That is reason for concern. So far they haven’t allowed a rushing TD this season.
Dishing the Real Grade: B-. Not getting it done late in KC keeps it from a B.
Defense Passing Allowing 314 yds/game. NFL rank: 24
While the defense hasn’t been allowing many rushing yards, they have been blown up in passing yards. QB Eli Manning had an epic game passing against Dallas as far as stats go but it was the INTs that did him in. The Cowboys allow 8.6 yards per attempt which ranks a poor 28th in the NFL.
Sacks– Dallas has 7 sacks in two games which ranks them in the top 10 in that category. The new 4-3 defense does seem to pressure the QB more effectively but there are holes back in that secondary.
Take aways– Currently a good +3. But not consistent. Outstanding against the Giants with 5 turnovers but then none against the Chiefs.
Dishing the Real Grade: D. Needs to improve. Limit the big plays.
Overall Dallas has done well in special teams after a shaky preseason. Dan Bailey is one of the better kickers in the NFL.
And Dallas has placed 6 punts inside the 20 which is near the top of the NFL. Dwayne Harris has been outstanding covering punts and was even recognized as NFL special teams player of the week.
Their kickoff returns could be better but they have avoided disaster so far and they have a kicker that can win a game for you.
Dishing the Real Grade: B+. Like to see a big return.
A mix bag of results thus far early in the season. Just what one might expect from a team sitting with a 1-1 record. To get over the hump, the “D” grades need to improve quickly.
Offense: Run the ball better and more frequently. Loosen up the defense with some deep shots down the field. Even incompletions serve a purpose.
Defense: Got to limit the big pass and catch. Need a few takeaways every game.