Dallas Cowboys Contributor
On behalf of SOFER’D
The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 39-28, on Sunday afternoon, as the Cowboys absorbed their first loss of the season. In this week’s edition of First and 10 we explore how the Cowboys lost, how good Brandon Weeden really looked and which player really killed the Cowboys.
If you had told me before the game that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden would fail to complete just four passes and throw for more than 200 yards, I think I would have taken that action. Weeden had a solid game. I don’t know what everyone else’s expectations was, but I believed that if the Cowboys didn’t ask him to do anything he couldn’t do, that if they asked him to be efficient and avoid major mistakes, that Weeden could give them a chance to win. Weeden only had a couple of mistakes — the interception and the sack he took in the two minute drill in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, his play was nothing to complain about.
Now, there is a flip side to this. Tailoring a game plan to Weeden’s strengths exposed his weaknesses, the biggest of which appears to be an inability to go deep. Think about the Cowboys’ first two games this season. Even with Dez Bryant hobbled or out they were still able to go vertical thanks to Tony Romo’s arm. The Cowboys completely abandoned the vertical passing game on Sunday. I’m sure offensive coordinator Scott Linehan wanted to put Weeden in a comfort zone and it worked. But by halftime the Falcons figured out that the Cowboys weren’t going deep and it allowed them to further simplify their scheme. The Falcons were able to go man-to-man on the edge, put an extra defender in the box and slow down the running game. That’s a big reason the Cowboys’ offense went impotent in the second half.