After the Bengals’ Brandon Tate returned a punt for a 75 yard TD, he said of his coach,
“Darrin always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay,”
I’m not sure who is to be credited with originally saying it. No doubt many coaches and countless fans have uttered this expression over the years of watching football. I heard the great NFL philosopher, Warren Sapp, say it before. The re-kick was necessary after a punt hit Jerry’s big TV, a reflection of his enormous ego no doubt.
Anyway, hitting Jerry’s TV with a punt is a pretty impressive feat to me and I think punter’s should actually be rewarded for accomplishing it. New Rule: Two points for the punt team when they hit Jerry’s Big TV. Shoot off fireworks, drop confetti and make sounds like a pin ball machine or something.
OUR NOT SO SPECIAL, SPECIAL TEAMS
The punt return TD wasn’t the only special teams mistake of the night as they had a holding call on the opening kickoff that put them in the hole right away. Then late in the game clinging to a 21-18 lead, the Cowboys kickoff team allowed the Bengals a 53 yard return all the way to midfield. Putting them in good position to potentially tie the game with a FG.
-Last week against the Cardinals, Harris fumbled during a punt return that led to points for the Cardinals.
-In the Raiders game, they allowed a long kickoff return, had a blocked FG, and then Webb muffed a punt that led to the Raiders winning score.
–In preseason games the Cowboys are dead last in punt returns with a pathetic 1.4 yard per return average. And they are 21st in KO returns.
It remains to be seen if their special teams problems leak into the regular season but it must be a concern at this point. If they don’t get better quickly, it will cost them a game this year.
Take Away Surplus
In an earlier blog “4 things to look for in the dress rehearsal game“, one of the things I mentioned was Dallas needed to take the ball away more than give it away. In the Bengals game, they created 4 turnovers while having 0 turnovers. That’s good to see. They recovered two fumbles and Xavier Brewer came up with a late interception that secured the win.
BW Webb also had a nice pick in the game and he is one guy who really needed to make a play. I still maintain that Webb would rather do about anything other than be involved with making a tackle. It’s the weakest part of his game as he allowed a Bengal to score from like 7 yards out because of weak tackling. But to his credit, the pick was nice. Baby steps.
This new defense looks capable of creating turnovers and if the offense can protect the ball, it should help them win more games in 2013.
Running Game Commitment
Another thing I mentioned was that Dallas needed to commit to the run game and against the Bengals, they did it. They finished with 156 yards rushing as they had more rushing attempts than passing attempts for the game. When Dallas runs more than passes, I like their chances of winning much better. Tanner provided a nice spark with 39 yards while Randle ran for 66 yards late in the game to help put the Bengals away. Murray finished with 51 yards rushing.
What was encouraging was that while their run game started slowly, they didn’t abandon it but kept coming back to it in the game. I really like that on one occasion after running the ball and failing to convert a 3rd and 1, they ran the ball again on 4th and 1 with Tanner picking up 2 yards to get the first down. I like that determination to run the ball.
NOTE: They will experience more success in short yardage situations running to the left behind Smith than trying to run right behind Free and Parnell. I don’t like Free at right guard. It’s not working.
For Dallas to succeed in the multiple TE sets they are talking of running this season, I believe an effective running game will be a prerequisite.
As far as a dress rehearsal game goes, it was a success for Dallas but they better tighten up on their special teams or it will cost them a game later. And avoid those re-kicks…