Friday, January 13, 2012
What else went wrong in 2011
By Todd Archer
IRVING, Texas -- Today we finished the What Went Right series, last week we brought you What Went Wrong, and if you want to refresh your memory the links are below.
But more than five things went wrong in the Cowboys’ 8-8 season and here we bring you some more of the bad news:
** Rushing touchdowns. The Cowboys had five of them all year, which is a franchise low. Only Cleveland had fewer than the Cowboys with four. Dallas finished tied with Kansas City for 30th in the NFL. One of the rushing touchdowns came on a quarterback sneak by Tony Romo. This is where Bill Callahan has to make his mark. In the red zone you have to be able to run it to score touchdowns.
** The return game. The Cowboys were not able to give the offense great field position through the punt game, even with Dez Bryant as the returner in situations, or the kick return game. The average starting point for the Cowboys was the 29, which was 11th best in the league, but at one point in the season the Cowboys’ longest return was a 38-yarder by defensive lineman Sean Lissemore. The Cowboys averaged 7.1 yards per punt return in 2011 after averaging 15.9 yards per punt return in 2010.
** Miles Austin. His season was largely a wash because of hamstring injuries that kept him from six games. As good as Dez Bryant can be in the future, Austin is the receiver to make the passing game go. He could never get completely healthy and it showed. After his nine-catch, 143-yard, three-touchdown game vs. San Francisco in Week 2, he did not have another 100-yard game, catch more than seven passes in a game or have more than 74 yards.
** Pressure on the quarterback. Other than DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys were unable to put together a consistent pass rush. The killed the secondary down the stretch. Anthony Spencer’s six sacks were second most on the team and three of them came in the first three games. Jay Ratliff had two sacks, which matched Orlando Scandrick, a cornerback. The Cowboys have to get a more varied pass rush.
Here are the top-five things that went wrong:
Offensive line struggled
Jason Garrett’s clock management
Losing five fourth-quarter leads
Mediocrity from Rob Ryan's defense
DeMarco Murray breaks his ankle