Some Cowboys Relief
If you watched two football games this weekend, you're consternation following the Dallas Cowboys loss to to the Jaguars in week one should be relieved. Those two games: Dallas' defeat of Washington and Jacksonville's defeat of defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh.
Take a look at the things we lambasted after week one: the offensive line, Drew Bledsoe, the lack of a pass rush, and the secondary.
The offensive line stepped up in a big way in week two, holding a dominant Washington defense to one sack and allowing the backs to go for 4.5 yards a carry. Drew Bledsoe rebounded nicely posting what should have been a near 300-yard performance if his receivers could hold onto a football. And the defense posted six sacks and held Mark Brunell to under 200 yards passing.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville exploited what should once again be one the league's better teams. They forced Roethlisberger into two interceptions, though both were late with Big Ben trying desperately to rally his team. They limited the Steelers to 1.9 yards per carry. And they posted good numbers in the passing game despite not scoring a touchdown.
So, now it appears the week one loss may have been as much Jacksonville's skill as it was Dallas' mistakes. This is a good Jaguar team that may be ready to become one of the elites.
But don't look too positively on the 27-10 outcome of the rival Redskins. First, they are an 0-2 team that lost their first game to a team that's undefeated after beating two 0-2 teams. Second, this was one hell of an ugly victory between the drops and the penalties. That lack of discipline will lose lose you a number of games.
Third, it's good to see the improvement, but this was not last year's Redskin's defense. They were minus Shawn Springs meaning they had to leave one more man in coverage resulting in one fewer pass rusher most plays. This was quite obviously a much simpler task for the offensive line that it was last season.
And Bledsoe had two balls that should have been picked off but give him credit for a nice rebound game. even if they're intercepted, he has respectable numbers. He's at least bought another start for the Tennesse game following the bye.
Finally, you like the pass rush numbers but you have to know the line can key on pass rushing with Clinton Portis out with his shoulder injury. And you have to salivate over the future with the youth in this front seven. And don't feed me that "Should have drafted Shawne Merriman over DeMarcus Ware" junk yet. The Cowboys said they chose Ware knowing Merriman was more NFL ready but they like Ware's upside. Give it the rest of this year and maybe even next. Then, we can talk.
But where do the real kudos lie? With the secondary and the coaching. Terrance Newman shut down Santana Moss. Rookie free safety Pat Watkins has yet to show up as a negative. In fact, I can't say I've seen anyone willing to challenge this rare safety yet. And Roy Williams has two interceptions already. Could it be he has finally learned how to cover and become a complete safety?
As far as coaching goes, the scheme and formations made it even harder to blitz and pressure Bledsoe. We are aware of the standard two tight end set, meaning you can send both on pass routes or keep both in to block. But did you notice the two back set where Julius Jones goes in motion to the slot and Marion Barber stays behind Bledsoe. That's a formation full of possibilities. And Parcells and the Little Tunas did a nice job of mixing in three receiver sets to keep the Skins trying to match up all night.
So this weekend was a relief. I still haven't seen enough to believe it's a playoff team. But Dallas won't be fighting for the number one overall pick. (But wouldn't Adrian Peterson look great with a star on his helmet? I know, he's a Sooner, but what do think of Roy Williams now?)