5 Wonders: Lions' trade, penalties, Ryan, rookie

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
12:35
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have a short week to get ready for undefeated Detroit – isn’t that strange to say – so we’ll get into the weekly installment of Five Wonders quickly:

** As stated at the top the Lions are undefeated and turning into a contender in the NFC after being kicked around for so long. Whenever Detroit plays the Cowboys there has to be a mention of the Roy Williams’ trade in 2008. I do not wonder if the Cowboys would want a do over on this deal. I know they would. The trade failed in an epic manner. The Cowboys have up first, third and sixth round picks, plus $27 million in guaranteed money only to cut Williams in the offseason. Detroit, however, hit on only one of those draft picks and it has been a big hit: tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The other picks: WR Derrick Williams (third) and RB Aaron Brown (sixth, TCU-ex) are no longer on the team and contributed little. Pettigrew caught a career-high 11 passes for 112 yards on Sunday vs. Minnesota.

** Bill Parcells said he didn’t coach penalties. Wade Phillips took the brunt of the heat for the penalties. I wonder what Jason Garrett’s approach is. Through 11 games with Garrett as the coach, the Cowboys are averaging 6.2 penalties for 48.6 yards per game. In 56 games with Phillips, the Cowboys averaged 7.1 penalties for 56.6 yards. That’s about one penalty and eight yards a game. Why does it seem like the Cowboys are not-so penalty happy with Garrett?

** There isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the Cowboys defense through three games. They are sixth in the league in yards, second vs. the run, 12th vs. the pass. They lead the NFL with 13 sacks. It’s all good. But I wonder just how good they are. The New York Jets, San Francisco and Washington have limitations on offense. The Cowboys next two games come against Detroit and New England. The Lions are averaging 33.7 points per game. The Patriots are at 34.7 points. Slow down those juggernauts and the Cowboys will have something. But it also could create an issue, too. Rob Ryan should be at the top or near the top of the list for head coaching jobs in 2012.

** I’m not sure Bradie James has covered kickoffs since his rookie year in 2003, but the veteran inside linebacker was filling that role Monday vs. Washington. With Sean Lee doing so well defensively he was taken off the coverage team. That James was willing to fill in speaks to his commitment to the team and how serious he takes his leadership role.

** I wondered why the Cowboys did not take the trade with Jacksonville on draft day to move down a little in the first round and acquire extra picks. Instead they stood at No. 9 and took Tyron Smith. I’m not wondering anymore. Through three games Smith has been the Cowboys’ best offensive lineman. It’s not been perfect, but Smith has excelled. I’m sure there are some mental mistakes through the first three games but Smith’s athleticism makes up for a lot.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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