Dallas Cowboys First Quarter Report Card For 2010 NFL Season
By Derek Major – Bleacher Report
The Cowboys have passed the first quarter point of the season and they’re in serious danger of not making the playoffs for the second time in three years. At this point the Cowboys need to find themselves because things are going downhill fast. Here’s a position by position layout of the Cowboys team.
Quarterbacks: Tony Romo has played well and three of his five interceptions have come off receivers hands, so he can’t necessarily be blamed for those. He’s completed 68 percent of his passes and has over 1,300 yards on the season. So while things are going bad for the Cowboys, he’s not the reason.
Running backs: Felix Jones had the first individual 100-yard game for the Cowboys last week and they broke 100 as a unit against the Texans. Marion Barber has played well as the starter and Jones got more carries and made the most of them last week, but they’ve yet to be a significant part of the offense. The blame on that goes to Jason Garrett, who gives up on the run faster than Philadelphia fans gave up on Kevin Kolb.
Tashard Choice has seen limited action and when he did play significant snaps, it resulted in the fumble that was the difference in Week 1 against the Redskins.
Offensive Line: When I thought about this article last week I had the Cowboys O-line down for a good grade. Then they played the Titans.
Leonard Davis was benched for Montrae Holland (who did a solid job, until he was injured), Marc Colombo also got lit up and hasn’t looked that bad since the Divisional Playoff game against Minnesota. Even Doug Free, who’s had the best season of anyone on the line was beat a few times, one of which resulted in a Romo interception inside the Cowboys 20-yard line last week.
Alex Barron was awful in Week 1, and has since done a fantastic job sitting on the bench, where he belongs; cause it’s sure not on the field.
Wide Receivers: Miles Austin (31 catches, 474 yards and two TDs) is having another outstanding season. Dez Bryant had already made an impact with a punt return for a TD and 17 catches. Roy Williams, (18 catches, 278 yards and three TDs) however is the biggest surprise as he’s actually getting open and catching the ball. He’s second on the team in yards and leads the team in TDs.
Tight Ends: Jason Witten (20 catches, 218 yards and one TD) is having another solid season, but still is seeing the passes in the end zone that he did the first three years he was with Dallas, but that has more to do with the Cowboys not finishing drives than Witten doing anything wrong.
Martellus Bennett has been…Martellus Bennett. He’s underachieved with just 13 catches for 97 yards (isn’t he supposed to be a run after the catch guy?) and his dropped pass in the end zone was intercepted last week against the Titans. Bennett makes the Cowboys trading away Anthony Fasano look worse every day.
Defensive Line: They’ve allowed two individual 100-yard rushing games; they didn’t allow one last season. No one in the entire unit has a sack this season and Igor Olshansky has just two tackles in four games. Backups Josh Brent and Jason Hatcher have been as non-existent as the starters have.
Linebackers: DeMarcus Ware is again on a pace to be among the league leaders in sacks with six already. Anthony Spencer has two sacks and has been solid in pass coverage, something he struggled a bit with last season. Keith Brooking and Bradie James are the top two leaders in tackles once again, and finally won’t be asked to play every down which will save them a bit.
Sean Lee has been good, he just needs to stay healthy and improve his cover skills. Jason Williams is one of those guys who always seems to be in a play, just not the guy making the play. They both need some work.
Cornerbacks: The Cowboys only have three active corners, yet only one has shown up every week. Terence Newman is having another fine season, and again is very underrated. Mike Jenkins was playing fine until last week where he fell in love with Kenny Britt so much he wouldn’t let him go, grabbing and holding him as much as possible.
Orlando Scandrick is still having problems with skilled route runners. His performance last week was also atrocious, as he argued with ref during the play where his man scored a TD. The thought of him lining up against Steve Smith two weeks from now should be scaring him and every Cowboys fan.
Safeties: Alan Ball has been solid in pass coverage, but still needs some work on his tackling. He also hasn’t been able to make plays on the ball as the Cowboys thought he would. Gerald Sensabaugh’s strength is playing the run and he’s done that just fine as he’s fifth on the team in tackles. He also helped the corners on deep routes.
Special Teams: The Cowboys kick coverage has been awful this season, while the punt coverage has been good. Bryant has a punt return for a TD, while Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is averaging 2.8 yards per kickoff return.
Mat McBriar is still one of the top punters in the league, with six of his 13 punts inside the 20 and an average of 2.3 yards per return.
David Buehler has struggled in his first season as the place kicker, having just one game where he’s made every attempt. He connected on a 50-yarder last week, but then missed a 44-yarder. His touchbacks are also down significantly, which doesn’t help the Cowboys poor coverage unit.
Coaching: Phillips was out-coached in Week 1 and 2, and he can’t get the Cowboys to stop making mistakes and focus. His friendly demeanor hasn’t motivated the Cowboys yet this season. They played well against the Texans, then forgot everything they learned during the bye week, which has led to a 1-3 start.
Jason Garrett’s pass happy offense takes away from what should be a solid running game. He routinely gives up on the run in the second half of games although the Cowboys haven’t lost a game by more than seven this season. As great as it is to watch Romo drop back, sometimes he needs to hand the ball off in the second half.