Do you think the Cowboys still have a chance to go to the Super Bowl this season?
I went to the Cowboys game as a spectator. Usually, I watch the Cowboys on TV, and every once in a while through a camera viewfinder when I'm shooting the game for WFAA. So it was a treat to watch the game and be able to see all 22 players on the field, and watch the teams set up pre-snap, and how plays develop. Some random observations:
Bears fans were well represented in the stands. Lots of orange jerseys and Bears hats. I would guess at least 10,000. I have a theory when it comes to "visiting" fans. It is much more prevalent in southern states than in the north. My guess is that football fans who move away from their home cities tend to move south, not north. So most of the Bears fans at Cowboys fans today were transplants, and not fans who had actually traveled to the game.
I heard some guys on the radio questioning the pooch kick by David Buehler late in the first quarter, after Dez Bryant's punt return to take a 7-3 lead. As it turned out, the Bears got great field position and scored three plays later. I think what Buehler was trying to do is kick the ball to the only lineman on the field -- #71 Israel Idonije. As I looked at the Bears' return team, he stuck out like a sore thumb among the wide receivers, defensive backs and linebackers -- Idonije plays on the Bears defensive line, and Buehler kicked in his direction. But Tim Jennings for the Bears saw it coming and went back from his position to call the fair catch. Seeing big #71 standing at the 25 yard line, I liked the idea of Buehler kicking at him; he just didn't quite kick it hard enough to get it there.
What's wrong with this team? I really don't know. The Cowboys defense was very good in a couple areas -- Chicago had only 38 net rushing yards, and the Bears were 1-for-11 on third down conversions. But on the touchdown pass to Greg Olsen there was big time confusion in the middle of the defense, when no one picked up Olsen and he went 39 yards untouched. And there was another play where just before the snap Bradie James had to call a panicked timeout because he didn't like the way they were set up. Is Tony Romo off this year? Some of his throws were all-pro, threading the needle and just hitting guys on the numbers. And then he had other throws that were just terrible -- the dump off to Tashard Choice that was thrown well behind him is probably the best example. One of Romo's interceptions came off a bad throw to Witten; he threw it behind and all Witten could do was get a hand on it, which popped the ball up in the air and made it easy pickings. Some of Romo's throws were just really bad. And some were really good. So I don't know what to think.
Roy Williams needs to get his brakes repaired. He got lit up a couple of times on plays where other receivers would have shifted or gotten down to the ground before getting crushed. The second time Roy got popped, he took at least three steps after making the catch. That should be plenty of time to avoid a big hit. Other than that, Roy looked good today ... at least until the fumble.
I rarely go to games as a spectator. First of all, it's expensive. Secondly, I like keeping up with the entire NFL, and not just one game. My one and only complaint about Cowboys Stadium is that I couldn't keep up with scores from around the league. They put them up once in a while, and they also put up random running stats (every once in a while, we would get shown five players and how many receptions they had at that point. Who cares? Whether you play fantasy or not, that statistic is irrelevant).
Now to the fallout from the Cowboys loss ... I'm usually the last guy to overreact. I'm the guy who's been writing that this team will be fine, despite how the offense looked in the preseason. I thought they would be fine after the week 1 loss to Washington, because the offense moved the ball well and the probably win if not for that fluke play at the end of the first half. I am now changing my position, and I invite everyone to hit the red panic button. The Cowboys have a serious problem. The season can still be salvaged -- after all, it's only two games. On the flip side, two games is a lot in a 16-game season, especially when the difference between making and missing the playoffs can be a 10-6 record or a 9-7 record. Many people have made the point that the first two games on the schedule were going to be two of the easiest games to win. Now the Cowboys have to make up those two games somewhere in the next 15 weeks, against what was rated as the toughest schedule in the NFL.
In this league, the season can get away from you pretty quick. And the Cowboys are dangerously close to getting to that point.