The Dallas Cowboys were one of the last teams to complete the first quarter of the 2012 NFL season with a brutal loss on Monday Night Football at home to the Chicago Bears. Tony Romo was intercepted five times as the Cowboys dropped their first home game of the season, 34-18.
Needless to say, things have not been pretty in Big D since the Cowboys went out and won the 2012 season opener against the New York Giants in impressive fashion. Although they may be 2-2, it has all been downhill for Dallas after the first game of the season.
The Cowboys find themselves in a tie for second place in the NFC East with the Giants and Washington Redskins. All three teams sit one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles, although all four teams have plenty of question marks surrounding their chances in 2012. As with many teams in the NFL today, it all starts with the quarterback.
For the Cowboys, that is not always good.
They can thank Romo for good and the bad. When the Cowboys win, it is generally because Romo has a huge game, like he did in week 1 against the Giants. But when they lose, they can usually blame Romo for the loss, much like they could after his five interceptions in last night’s loss.
Granted, it is not all Romo’s fault. An NFL loss is rarely the cause of just one player. The Cowboys’ offensive line has far too many holes in it and has allowed far too many opposing hits to their quarterback. Between not always having much time in the pocket, to many hits, and Dez Bryant dropping more than his fair share of passes, the Cowboys have many problem on offense.
And while the defense may have looked porous last night, they were set up in many difficult situations. Overall, this is a much improved unit under Rob Ryan. Here is a look at some of the numbers for both sides of the ball through the first four games of the 2012 NFL season.
Tony Romo: 101 completions of 151 attempts for 1,148 yards // 5 TD and 8 INT
DeMarco Murray: 61 carries for 237 yards / 1 TD
Miles Austin: 18 catches for 300 yards // 3 TD
Dez Bryant: 21 catches for 269 yards // 0 TD
Kevin Ogletree: 17 catches for 221 yards // 2TD
Jason Witten: 21 catches for 128 yards // 1 TD
As you can see, Romo is on pace for 20 TD and 32 INT. That will not get the Cowboys back to the playoffs. Also, while Murray is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry, he is also receiving no help in the Dallas backfield. The team has almost completely phased out Felix Jones, as they have no confidence in him going forward. Ogletree did the majority of his damage in week 1, and he does not appear to be filling the same role held by Laurent Robinson last season. Austin looks healthy and has put up solid numbers, while Witten looks to be getting back to midseason form. Bryant has a lot of work still left to do.
The Cowboys’ defense has been much improved, and it all starts up front. Sean Lee is turning into a beast, and Bruce Carter is off to a fast start. DeMarcus Ware is doing just as well as normal to begin 2012, and the Cowboys are getting much better play from their new secondary with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Dallas ranks first overall in fewest passing yards allowed, although they are just 17th against the run so far. That number will have to improve if they are going to contend in the NFC East.
The bottom line is that while the Cowboys are 2-2, they have many issues to work on going into their bye week. Romo has got to show better ball security and make fewer poor decisions with throwing the football. Murray is not doing a bad job as the lead back, but he has not performed nearly as well as many people predicted he would at this point. The wide receivers need to be more consistent behind Austin, and the offensive line has to do a better job all around.
If things do improve, the Cowboys could be in the mix for a wild card spot as the season progresses. If they do not, then this team will not be playing into January once again. Through the first quarter of the 2012 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys have earned just a C on their report card.