Friday, September 21, 2007

Tony Romo is Tall

All the coverage and hype about the Cowboys was really starting to get me worried. Is the Cowboys offense really super potent? Will they be able to find enough holes in the Bears defense to score 24 points, as Mike Tanier suggested? Is Tony Romo really everything I started hoping Rex Grossman might be right about the time of the Buffalo game last season?

So I just watched the Cowboys-Miami game, and I have to say: what's the big effing deal?

I mean, first of all, talk about a totally uninspiring football game. Neither team looked especially sharp on either side of the ball, but especially, wow, what terrible defenses. I'm willing to grant that it was hella hot down in Miami that day, but you still gotta be able to tackle a little bit. There were seriously plays when Cowboys ran up to a Miami defender, stopped for a second, almost like they were just saying "Hi" to him, and then they started running again. Plays, as in, it happened more than once. I really don't think I'm exaggerating saying that about a fourth of Dallas's yards on offense came after a Miami defender completely failed at tackling.

On top of that, Romo for the most part faced no threat from Miami's pass rush. He sure is tall and mobile, but there were at least a couple of plays that he made look quite a bit more flashy than they were, just because he started wiggling around in the pocket when there wasn't really any need for him to do so. He's going to have to really be the mobile guy people say he is in order to fare so well against the Bears pass rush on Sunday night; unless I'm totally underestimating the Cowboys' line.

Everyone's talking about Romo, but it really seemed like the running backs were the bigger deal for Dallas. On both of the only two actual drives the Cowboys managed to put together, it was largely the running backs coming up with the real yards. Fortunately, so far it hasn't looked like the Bears need to worry to much about opposing teams' running backs. They completely manhandled LT and LJ in consecutive weeks. I think they should be able to handle Thomas Jones' baby brother and Marion Barber III.

Yeah, that's the other thing: Dallas's offense supposedly showed that they're one of the best in the NFL last Sunday, but they really didn't seem like they were all that in control of the game. Dalls got 14 of their points about about 70 of their yards on two plays that were really absolute breakdowns of Miami's defense. On TO's highlight reel touchdown, TO totally beat his corner, which isn't especially surprising, since, you know, he's TO, but then there were no safeties back to stop him after that point, because it was a 4th and 4 play and Miami's defense was all scrunched up around the line of scrimmage to prevent the first down. Give props to Dallas's offensive coordinator for calling a deep pass on 4th and 4, but that's not a play that scores a touchdown against the Bears defense if you call it a hundred times. The other of the two plays I'm discussing was Marion Barber III's final nail-in-the-coffin running touchdown from a bout thirty-five yards out, and it was a similar problem. The deepest guy back for Miami was some safety guy, all by himself about fifteen yards from the line of scrimmage. He had to have been at least eight yards behind the next farthest back Dolphin. It should have been his responsibility to catch Barber when he broke through the first line of defense, but he just kind of stayed in his spot (on the wrong side of the field!) until Barber was all the way through before then trying to catch him, by which point, of course, he had no hope.

Other than those two plays, Dallas's offense didn't look like much more than a slightly above average offense. Certainly better than KC's, but, even this year, not even close to what San Diego's probably actually is. If the Cowboys are going to beat the Bears defense this Sunday, they're going to have to play at a significantly higher level than they did against Miami.

One other thing. I expect the Bears to get at least three turnovers from the Cowboys offense. Tono Romo is careless with the ball sometimes while he's going all hurky-jerky in the pocket, and the Bears should be able to get at least one fumble from him, and, unless his play in Miami was significantly different than it will be this Sunday, he also makes some pretty dumb throws sometimes. He got really lucky that Miami's defenders all decided to take some Special K before the game and were all playing about ten seconds behind reality, so they're hands didn't come together to catch Romo's gimmes until the ball was harmlessly bouncing away on the infield.

I will be pretty shocked if the Bears lose to this Dallas team.

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