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From that 2006 Week 6 when, with a very bold and unexpected move, Bill Parcells decided to replace Drew Bledsoe with Tony Romo at the halftime, the Dallas Cowboys have a record of 78-48 with Romo on the field (and are 30 games above .500) and 6-16 without. In short it’s obvious that the Cowboys with Romo on the field are a very different team from that without Tony, so different that, in a totally unexpected way, bookmakers opened betting on Thursday match against a team with a record of 10-0, with the Cowboys favorites … disbelievers, pessimists and skeptics, go all to bet your nest egg on Carolina!
What really makes the difference? In fact the offense seen on the field Sunday scored only 17 points, not a number to make your head spin. The difference shows from two months ago to now, for the first time the Cowboys offense appeared whole, capable of using all of its playbook, and especially of being able to change and adjust depending on the defensive deployments. To this, must be added all the improvisation that only players like Romo, and among others before him Brett Favre, are able, with their left-handed throws, the turns and spins, the courage and all that goes with it. Of course all this can have a price in terms of turnovers, but I see the two on Sunday as more rusty “decision making” related.
The numbers speak of a team that comes back to balance with 37 runs and 30 passes, converting 50% of third downs (7 of 14) and this is due to the fact that third down situations have been far more manageable, with defenses that don’t methodically fill the box in the first two downs. Again 12 Personel comes with a run for 7.7 yds in those situations, thanks to the successful introduction of Turbin and his “run and pound” style that tends to take advantage of tired defenses towards the end of game . The Dolphins have blitzed on 11 of 31 occasions, and I believe that this aggressive tactic is what we should expect from all future opponents. Precisely for this reason, we will need better performances by Tyron Smith and Zac Martin, performances that have legitimized them as Pro Bowl players.
If the Cowboys can manage to keep the same balance, and third down conversions remain high, they will have a chance against all the next opponents. But it is useless to make proclamations and it’s better to face one challenge at a time beginning on Thursday in a game where our offense will face a Carolina defense formidable in all aspects. It’s a defense predicated mainly on physicality and on the speed of its LB’s, if we are able to impose an effective running game, we can put ourselves back on the train that leads to glory.