Monday, December 20, 2010
Stock Report: Witten up; secondary down
By Calvin Watkins
While the remaining two games mean nothing in terms of playoff implications, it means everything for the players, whose performance is being evaluated.
The Cowboys' 33-30 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday was another step in the evaulation process. With that, we review the game in our weekly Stock Report.
How could you not say Mr. Witten isn't moving up the charts after catching 10 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown vs. the Redskins? Witten is now one of four tight ends with over 600 catches in his career. Not getting ahead of ourselves here, but whenever he retires, the Ring of Honor should add his name. Currently, Witten leads the team in catches (82), yards (911) and touchdowns (seven).
It's easy to get on Austin for his drops and dwindling numbers, but his three catches were significant Sunday. He caught one for a touchdown, another for a first down in the second quarter and the final catch to extend a fourth-quarter drive that eventually led to a David Buehler go-ahead field goal. The coverage Austin commands clears the way for players like Witten to have big games, which was the case on Sunday.
When opposing players and coaches vote on the Pro Bowl this week, Ware should be one of the outside linebackers for the NFC. Ware had six tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss Sunday. His pressure causes all kinds of problems for offenses. His rush on the outside opened the way for Victor Butler to come inside and get a sack in the fourth quarter. On the season, Ware has 11.5 sacks.
It's hard to rip a secondary that had two interceptions -- by Gerald Sensabaugh and Terence Newman -- but it's easy to to take shots when you allow Rex Grossman to throw for 322 yards, Santana Moss to grab eight balls for 72 yards and Anthony Armstrong to get 100 yards on five catches. Secondary play has been inconsistent most of the year.
The defense didn't close the show when it was supposed to, blowing a 27-7 lead only to need a field goal to bail it out in the final minute of the game. There were five sacks and two interceptions, but Grossman had too much time to get going in the second half and there were plenty of big plays allowed. The defense lost Sean Lee and Sensabaugh to concussions, but there are still playmakers out there and not enough plays.
Jones makes the list for this mess of a team that improved to 5-9 on the year. He waited too long to fire Wade Phillips; he should have done it after the 0-2 start. He kept holding out hope Tony Romo would return, when it was clear he shouldn't play after suffering a broken collarbone. Jones finally realized that in his statements to the media Sunday that it's doubtful Romo will return. The GM in Jones should have stepped up and said Romo's not playing the rest of the year after the loss to the Giants in October. He still won't push the younger players on the field, when it's apparent he needs too. For as much as the players and coaches have caused these issues, Jones has too.