PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania - (Major computer probs')
The Cowboys' 17-3 against the Philadelphia Eagles would not seem like the ideal time to throw rose petals at the offensive line, but the truffff is a unit that ranged from bad to God awful in 2013 is better in 2012. Not perfect, but better.
Everyone of these guys is better than they were last season, or the man he replaced. Tony Romo has a little bit more time, and the running game has been a little bit more effective. Again, not perfect but better.
Left tackle Tyron Smith has still not met his expections as a top 10 pick, but he is better.
Second year player Ron Leary is healthy and despite some flaws he is better than Nate Livings, who was not good.
Rookie center Travis Frederick has settled a position that was a mess one year ago.
Veteran guard Brian Waters is a lot better than Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Right tackle Doug Free, who had a bad game on Sunday in Philly, has been dramatically better this season.
We are not talking about the second-coming of the Cowboys' O-line from the '90s, but it's better than the ugly days of 2012.
The biggest surprise is the development of Leary, who has overcome a series of leg injuries suffered over the last few years that killed his draft status. He was a rookie free agent signee out of Memphis who did not play last season but was with the Cowboys.
"I never thought about not playing football," he told me on Sunday. "I was definitely frustrated. It's just good that I finally feel healthy."
The Cowboys' run game is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry. Last season it was 3.6.
Romo was sacked 36 times last season. He's been sacked 16 times this season.
Again, we're not talking about massive improvements but it's better than the alternative.
Story is played. His one catch on Sunday was erased after further review. He has not had a reception since Sept. 22 against the Rams.
The Cowboys developed a nice rookie free agent out of Monmouth into a Pro Bowl receiver.
After the Cowboys gave him a six-year extension in September of 2010 he caught 69 passes for 1,041 yards with seven touchdowns.
He can't stay healthy, and Terrance Williams has taken his job.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
The absence of DeMarco Murray from the starting lineup opened up a chance for rookie Joseph Randle who looked like a rookie. He had 19 carries for 65 yards. But he didn't get overwhelmed on blitz pickups, and showed a few things in the passing game (three catches for 28 yards).
Randle didn't blow anybody away, but he didn't look lost.
DEZ THE QUIET
(Can't wait for Dez Bryant vs. Calvin Johnson on Sunday in Detroit.)
Dez caught eight passes for 110 yards - has to be one of the quietest 110 yards ever. He was clearly frustrated early with the Cowboys' offense scoring only three points in the first half. He didn't lose his mind.
"This was a game you had to be patient in," Dez said.
He gets it. Popping off was going to serve zero purpose.
ROOKIE CAN PLAY, NEEDS A CLUE
Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox had to split some time at safety but the man continues to show just enough that he can play. His intereption in the endzone should have counted, and he made a few other plays that demonstrated good play recognition and ball skills. He's not there yet, but the Cowboys may have found a player.
NEXT WEEK: AT LIONS
This is all about Dez Bryant v. Calvin Johnson. Can't wait.
The last time the Lions played the Cowboys was a horror show: A Lions 34-30 win on Oct. 2, 2011 at JerryWorld.
Megatron caught eight passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Dez caught three passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys led 27-3 early in the third quarter before a historic collapse. Don't expect a repeat.
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