It’s a long season. Every game counts. A win is a win. That is exactly what I, and many other fans around the league, were saying the morning after. By most accounts, it was not a pretty opening day for a large amount of clubs.
Dallas was matched-up with the Giants in Week One. The consensus around town all offseason was that the Giants would be the worst team in the division. Luckily for the Cowboys, they were paired against them. NFL coaches will tell you how important it is to get that first win. And to an even greater degree of luck, they were able to not only open the season against them, but they had them at home in a divisional match-up.
Going into the game, two pieces of news made all Cowboys fans pull their Stetsons down a little bit. First, reports that not only would Terry Glenn be out, but rumors hinted at a possible missed season altogether for the veteran wideout. Second, Terrance Newman, the best secondary player on the team, would not even be dressing. All of a sudden the release of prehistoric cornerback Aaron Glenn was starting to look like maybe a bobbled snap.
But you’d be hard-pressed to argue that even a geriatric cornerback would not have done a better job in the secondary than free-safety Ken Hamlin. Martin Grammatica maybe would have fared better. I have been trying since Sunday night to remember a performance from a Cowboys secondary-man that was worse than the one Hamlin gave in his Dallas debut. A veteran free-safety from a quality defense comes over to your team to help out a struggling strong-safety and he proves his worth by missing 900 tackles. And to make matters even worse, this cat was brought over to provide veteran leadership. Nothing spells ‘veteran leadership’ quite like literally reaching over a referree to slap a guy’s face. Luckily for the Dallas fans, the clean-up crew has three weeks until the next home game to air out the stadium after the stink Hamlin displayed Sunday night.
Yes, someone back there gave a worse performance than public enemy 1, Roy Williams. But Williams is not without his share of criticism. Notably the touchdown in the back of the endzone. There are times when it seems like Williams’ gloves are stapled to his shirt-sleeves since his arms apparently do not exist.
Veteran corner Anthony Henry was burned a few times, a big concern when we play a team who is not New York, but he ended up with a decent game. And there should not be a time when the most storied franchise in the NFL has to rely on Jacques Reeves back there to not only take care of his own business, but also to make plays. That is not a slight on Reeves; he played above expectations, all things considered.
Besides the play of Reeves, there were two other surprises on defense that made the collective Dallas family feel better. When starting nose-tackle Robert Ferguson went out with injury, second-teamer Jeremiah Ratliff was able to come in and give quality production, including the lone Dallas sack. Reports now say that Ferguson is done for the season. The other surprise was the play of rookie defensive-end Anthony Spencer, who was subbing for the injured Greg Ellis. It is nice to see people take advantage of opportunities.
Offensively, the biggest point I wanted to see was a reemergence of Jason Witten as a big-time threat. Witten played a great game, as did his quarterback. Little mistakes here and there can be thrown out the window when your quarterback does that well on third-downs. Romo did a nice job spreading the ball around and keeping an already-weak secondary on their guard even more than usual. There are underrated, and even ‘unknown’, weapons on this Dallas offense, and when Stanbeck and Glenn get healthy, this is an offense that should be able to move the ball through the air with consistency. And like Loverboy, I’m lovin’ every minute of it.
The Cowboys travel this week to Miami, and you have to win the games you’re supposed to win. They should be able to take care of business down there with limited difficulty. Miami has too many pieces of their puzzle scattered all over the table, and it is going to take more than 2 weeks of regular-season practices to get their minds right. A team with terrible receivers and an even worse running-game is exactly what the new starters like Spencer and Ratliff need to get ready for serious competition. Defensively, expect Thomas to make 40 meaningless tackles, and for the secondary to get obliterated.
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