Cowboys Grades Through Three Games
Rush Offense: Yes, the Cowboys ran much better against the Texans and with more of a commitment. But let's be honest, they haven't run it well enough or often enough this season. They have failed in getting more touches for Felix Jones which was the plan going into the season. Remember they were supposed to build on his success at the end of last season. But their best big-play weapon continues to get scraps. Bottom line, the Cowboys were seventh in the NFL in rushing last year. Now they are 26th. Enough said.
Pass Offense: Numbers wise, the Cowboys have good through air. They have the league's fourth best passing offense. But the Cowboys passing game has not been good enough to win. Penalties, interceptions, miscues and missed assignments have cost them games. Romo had two interceptions against the Bears. Miles Austin had two dropped passes in that game. The Redskins game was just unforgiveable. They gave up a touchdown before the half thanks to a fumble on an ill-advised pass play. And of course, a holding call on the last play of the game negated a game-winning touchdown pass.
Rush Defense: Overall the run defense has been good, ranking seventh in the league. It was solid as usual the first two games. The Redskins and Bears did nothing on the ground worth noting. But there was sign of slippage against the Texans when Arian Foster gained 106 yards, albeit in a losing effort. It was their first 100-yard rusher in 19 games dating back to Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee of the Ravens both rushing for 100 yards in 2008 in the final game at Texas Stadium. It's worth noting because the Cowboys face Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson the next two weeks.
Pass Defense: Again, like the run defense, this unit has played pretty good overall. They shut down two pretty good quarterbacks in Donovan McNabb and Matt Schaub. The Cowboys had a major hiccup against the Bears when Jay Cutler picked them apart. It's even more alarming considering the way the Giants destroyed Cutler with nine sacks. DeMarcus Ware is back to his old tricks with four sacks and a ton of pressures.
Special Teams: David Buehler's two makes against the Texans have not proved anything about him long term. And they certainly don't make up for two missed kicks in the first two games that could have potentially changed the outcomes. The kickoff coverage has been brutal as well. Maybe the Cowboys got rid of too many veteran special teamers. The bright spots has been Dez Bryant on punt returns and punter Mat McBriar.
There is a lot of football left. But the 0-2 start was unexpected and unacceptable for a team that came into the season openly touting its Super Bowl expectations. The Cowboys were tired from a long camp at the start of the season. They were also ill-prepared. There were also too many mistakes on the sideline. That gaffe at the end of the first half against the Redskins will continue to haunt this team. The change in practice schedule heading into the Week 3 victory against the Texans is an indictment about what they were doing the first two weeks and in camp.