Three thoughts on the Cowboys’ 38-17 win over New Orleans:
1. I think Bruce Carter must wonder what football gods have against him, since a quadriceps strain will probably cost him at least one game.
Two seasons ago, he was playing the best he’d ever played when he suffered a dislocated elbow that ended his season. He spent last season in an unproductive fog but seemed to find his niche again this season after moving to strongside linebacker.
He had six tackles an two pass deflections before getting hurt against New Orleans. The Cowboys hope he’s not out long and that he returns with the same passion and performance.
Murray, who has missed 11 games in his first three seasons, has 99 carries in the first four games. He’s on pace to carry 396 times, a huge number for a dude who has never carried more than 396 times in a season.
Coach Jason Garrett gave Randle the final series of the third quarter, and he responded with three carries for 21 yards and had an 18-yard run negated by a penalty. Garrett said Randle is running confidently and aggressively.
That’s why it’s time to ease Murray’s load just a tad, so he’s still able to grind in November and December.
3. I think the Cowboys’ defensive line is going to be better than I figured.
It’s because they don’t have any bad players in their rotation. You don’t think about it much, but there’s a significant difference between an average player and a bad player.
You can survive with average players in the right circumstance. You can’t survive with bad players.
The Cowboys don’t have any stars, but with the mix of guys they have, there’s little difference when one comes out and another goes in, and the result is the defensive line plays to the same standard the entire game. They can play with maximum effort because they’re getting consistent rest and the offense has been keeping them off the field.
KEY STAT: 50.8
Garrett always talks about having the ability to attack a defense in a lot of different ways.
Well, the Cowboys have achieved perfect offensive harmony during their first four games, as they’re running it 50.8 percent of the time -- and that has helped lead to a three-game winning streak.
The Cowboys are No. 1 in the NFL with 165.0 yards rushing per games and rank fourth with a 5.08 average per carry.
This is the first time under Garrett that the Cowboys have made the running game the epicenter of their offense -- and it’s opening up everything else.
Bryant and Williams each scored on touchdown passes Sunday against New Orleans, in part, because they were facing single coverage so the Saints could devote more manpower to stopping the Cowboys’ running game.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Barry Church
He’s not flashy, but he doesn't mistake that for not being effective. Actually, Church would be really good on a great defense because he could freelance more and put himself in position to make more plays.
But in the Cowboys’ defensive scheme and with their personnel, he tends to play it safe, as he should.
Church is solid in coverage, a willing tackler and a guy who makes the right play most of the time. He had six tackles against the Saints and made a couple of nice tackles that stopped New Orleans from converting third downs.
They weren’t spectacular plays, but they were effective and ended the drive. They were typical Church plays.