The Cowboys are 6-1, and in case you were wondering, that record is not a fluke. The win over Seattle in Week 6 certainly opened everyone’s eyes. However, their consistent play week in and week out is the biggest indicator that they are without question among the NFC’s best.
The Cowboys have one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines in the NFL. Tony Romo was barely breathed on against the Giants on Sunday. The two sacks New York did get were somewhat fluky. On the first sack, the Cowboys used play-action, and Romo pumped, lost control of the ball, and wasn’t brought to the ground until 5-6 seconds after the snap. The second sack was also not due to quick pressure. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul got around left tackle Tyron Smith, and when Romo’s initial read wasn’t there, he moved backwards into Pierre-Paul for the sack. Aside from these two plays, Romo was not under constant duress at all in this game, and he was able to take advantage as a result.
Romo Playing Well:
Tony Romo isn’t making mistakes. He’s getting the ball to the right receiver, throwing with accuracy, and keeping the offense on schedule. Against the Giants, he made several plays late in the down. The defense had won with their coverage, but because he had time to throw, and because he still has the ability to improvise, he was able to use his movement to create voids in coverage downfield. He also made one heck of a throw on his final touchdown, a seem route to tight end Gavin Escobar. On this touchdown, the play-action sucked the linebackers up, Romo held the safety to the left (Dez Bryant’s side), and then threw a perfect ball back to the right to Escobar.
The Running Game:
The offensive line is moving people. They’re getting good individual efforts and good double-teams. They’re re-establishing the line of scrimmage and creating lanes with good blocking angles. Running back DeMarco Murray has played to the scheme of the running game as well. He hasn’t been trying to do too much.
Dallas loves to use outside zone runs, and on these plays, Murray has pressed the edge, which gets defenders moving and sets up his blockers. Murray has been very efficient as a runner this season, using one cut and then getting upfield. Between his performance and that of the offensive line, the running game is allowing Dallas to control the game and move the ball. It’s also making the Cowboys’ play-action twice as dangerous.
Dez Bryant is nearly impossible to cover one-on-one, and Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara found that out the hard way on Sunday. When the Giants played man coverage, Amukamara followed Bryant. However, he couldn’t handle Bryant’s power or speed. When Amukamara pressed him, Dez used his strength to throw the smaller corner aside. On one 24-yard reception in the 4th quarter, Amukamara, having been physically handled earlier in the game, went out of his way to try and jam Bryant. He wanted to get a little extra muscle into this jam to be able to handle the stronger receiver. This time, however, Bryant used his agility to sidestep him. Amukamara whiffed, and Bryant was on top of him instantly. Romo delivered a great ball, and this play led to the Cowboys’ 4th touchdown of the day.
The Cowboys are on a roll right now. They’re protecting, running, throwing and catching at a level as high as any team in the league. They’re a legitimate contender in the NFC. If they continue to stick with the run and play with balance on offense like they have through the last 6 games, they’ll definitely be in the mix at the end of the year.