Five Wonders: Cowboys just good, bad enough

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
8:00
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IRVING, Texas – The World Series has had games end on an obstruction call and a pick off. The Dallas Cowboys have lost games in which they have scored 48 points and won the turnover battle, 4-0.

I wonder what else weird could happen.

At the midway point of the Cowboys’ season, it’s time for Five Wonders.
  • I wonder if this is just who the Cowboys are. They are good enough to beat the bad teams and just not good enough to beat the good teams. Since 2011, the Cowboys are 16-1 against teams that are below .500. Against teams .500 or above, they are 4-19. This year they are 4-0 against team below .500 (New York Giants, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles) and 0-4 against the teams .500 or better (Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs). With rematches against their division foes and games against the Minnesota Vikings (1-6) on Sunday and Oakland Raiders (3-4), maybe, just maybe the Cowboys can get to nine wins and break this 8-8 train they have been on. They play three teams that are currently above .500 in the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
  • One of the signature plays from Sunday’s game against the Lions was Matthew Stafford throwing it up down the middle of the field to Calvin Johnson with the Cowboys in the perfectly drawn up defense with safety Jeff Heath in the middle of the field to take away the post throw. But Johnson was able to take the ball away from Heath and cornerback Brandon Carr for a 54-yard gain. I wonder why Tony Romo doesn’t take more chances with Dez Bryant. There’s risk involved and for all of the great things Stafford does, some of it isn’t sound. There is a time and place for everything. Bryant has shown the ability to take the ball away from defenders. It will be his ball or nobody else’s. Miles Austin has struggled with that type of play the last few years, so I can understand not taking those chances with him. But Bryant will play defensive back if he has to.
  • I wonder how much attention Sharrif Floyd will receive on Sunday. If you can rewind the clocks to last April, Floyd was the apple of many draftnik’s eyes and could not believe the Cowboys’ good fortune to see him there at No. 18 in the first round. The Cowboys had Floyd ranked on their draft board in the top five but when push came to shove Rod Marinelli just didn’t see enough pass rush to make Floyd worth it. If that was their reasoning, fine, but Floyd should not have been so high on the draft board. The Cowboys elected to trade down with San Francisco and eventually took Travis Frederick with the 31st overall pick. They also picked up an extra third-round pick in the deal and were able to select Terrance Williams. The process might have been flawed, but the results have been favorable so far. Frederick has been terrific and Williams has a touchdown catch in four straight games. Floyd has five tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Vikings.
  • I wonder where the screen game was against the Lions. The Cowboys used it effectively once with running back Joseph Randle picking up 13 yards. When you face a front four like the Lions, the easiest way to slow down the pass rush is to run the ball. The Cowboys didn’t run the ball well. The second way to slow it down is with some screens. They didn’t look to it enough against the Lions. They have not been a big screen team in years. Maybe it has something to do with their linemen in space. Frederick is more of a plodder. Brian Waters does not move as well as he did earlier in his career. Mackenzy Bernadeau replaced Waters and he is not great in space. Same with Ronald Leary. But when things are going poorly, the screen game could have bought Romo some precious half-ticks later in the game when he was looking to get the ball down the field.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys will make a practice-squad call up for the fourth straight week with cornerback Micah Pellerin. According to a source, Morris Claiborne could miss the next two games with a hamstring injury suffered against the Lions. The Cowboys only have three other corners on the 53-man roster in Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and B.W. Webb. They can’t go into a game with only three, can they? Minnesota might be a run-first team, but it is not a run-only team. Pellerin has been on the practice squad since the season started. For those wondering why Sterling Moore would not get the call, the Cowboys view him as a slot player and not somebody who can fill in outside. Plus, he’s not been in football for two months. If they make the move, Pellerin gets the call.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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