Today’s 4:15 p.m. game today pitting the Dallas Cowboys against the New England Patriots is a critical game for both teams. The Patriots defense is porous against the three wide receiver set and is near the bottom again in pass defense. The Cowboys are playing healthy for the first time today and coming off their bye week have the opportunity to vault themselves forward to a top tier team in the NFL. They have beaten the resurgent 49ers and Redskins and have given games to the Jets and the Lions, in large part due to poor second half performances by Tony Romo.
However bad Romo has played, the real test today is going to be for Dallas Cowboy Head Coach Jason Garret. Garrett who has been hailed as a very good offensive coordinator, true or not, has much to prove today. He has to prove that he can call plays in playoff type situations. His play calling against the Jets was suspect. Romo doesn’t fumble if they run the ball and kick the field goal. Also, Romo probably doesn’t throw the interception if a hobbly Dez Bryant isn’t in late in the game. Against, the Lions they were still aggressively throwing the ball with a 27 point lead. In my mind, that is not being in tune with the situation but I think there is more at play.
As solid as Garrett’s offensive attack is through the air, it is conversely suspect when it comes to running the ball. The running attack has had one good game this year and that was against the Redskins. The difference in that game was that Garrett employed a fullback that game and the extra blocking at the attack allowed Felix Jones to have a big game. Consequently, they were able to work the clock and win a close game against Washington.
When Garrett was Troy Aikman’s backup, the offense during that period known for passing first to get the linebackers off the line and as they gained the lead, Emmitt Smith took over following Darryl Johnston and they ate up teams in the second half-just ask the 49ers and Buffalo Bills. The 2011 version Cowboys have showed flashes of the same and have the capability to do this but the onus is on Garrett. As play caller and head coach, he has to be able to balance the two and create the right situations through his play calling.
The game today is going to be fun to watch I believe, but the winner is going to come out near the top of the power rankings. The Cowboys don’t have the luxury of playing the Dolphins twice this year and the Patriots are already one up on the Jets in the win column. Garrett is going to have to show up with a solid game plan and the team is going to have to execute it if they think they have a shot at the Tom Brady lead Patriots. If Rob Ryan’s attack can’t get pressure on Brady, it is going to be a long day for the Boys unless Garrett can counter with his own solid plan.