Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Beat Writers recap: Cowboys-Rams
By Calvin Watkins
It's the Rams, dude, and the Cowboys took care of them 34-7 on Sunday. The Rams are a bad football team without quarterback Sam Bradford. Still, it's worth reviewing what happened in our weekly Beat Writers recap.
*We talk plenty about DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins and Jay Ratliff as being the best defensive players from Game 1 on. Put Abram Elam on that list too. He had his best game of the season with eight tackles, three for losses, on Sunday. The Rams like to run the ball with Steven Jackson, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had Elam sneak up to the line of scrimmage to make some plays in the run game. This is where a player like Elam excels. He's quick enough and a sure tackler where he can bring a bigger player such as Jackson down to the ground.
*You can talk all you want about how defensive pressure forces interceptions. Sometimes the cornerbacks just make catches on poorly thrown balls. On A.J. Feeley's interception, it wasn't the pressure, it was Jenkins making a play. The Cowboys rushed four defenders and the Rams kept seven blockers in. Feeley's pass was poorly thrown, but Jenkins made the catch. Give him credit for making a play when necessary.
*DeMarco Murray was real good Sunday. Real good at running the ball. Yet he had two drops in the passing game. In the first quarter on a third-and-2, Murray left the backfield and ran a short route underneath. Tony Romo's pass hit him in the hands but he dropped it. The pass was short of the first-down marker so it might have resulted in a fourth-and-1, forcing the Cowboys to punt. Murray had another drop in the third quarter, this one on first down. It came off play action. To become a complete back, Murray needs to do the little things, and the Cowboys are believing he will.
*In the first four weeks of the season, the Cowboys lost two games because of Tony Romo passing mistakes. You wonder if he'll learn from them. Sunday, out of 24 throws, Romo made two dangerous attempts and threw two passes away. On a first-and-goal from the Rams 4, Romo threw a pass away toward the corner of the end zone. The target was Dez Bryant, but it was clear Romo didn't want to force him the ball. Two plays later, Romo found Jason Witten for a touchdown. In the third quarter, Romo was under pressure to his left with a corner blitz and threw a pass away into the Rams sideline. Next play, Romo found Bryant on a 13-yard slant. There are times where Romo still makes those throws where you shake your head. He threw into double coverage that drew a penalty on the Rams. Still, there was no need to throw that ball down the field.
*Bradie James and Keith Brooking had their best games of the season Sunday. Both found a nice groove with Lee at inside linebacker. James had six tackles and Brooking five. Besides the numbers, it seemed James especially was active around the ball. You want inside linebackers to attack ball carriers, and we saw that with James.
*The Cowboys had just 7 return yards combined Sunday. Seven. ... It's interesting that when Austin has just two catches for 16 yards, nobody talks about conspiracies at Valley Ranch. Let Bryant get just two or three catches for a game, and you think congressional hearings need to take place to find out why. ... The thing we like about Phillip Tanner is his balance. Stays on his feet and gets those extra yards.