Which was more disappointing, the lack of Cowboys offense or defense?
As bad as this Cowboys defense played on Sunday night, I felt like it was the offense that let them down. The injuries have taken its toll on the defense. I'm not using that as an excuse, but it's a fact. It is entirely too much to ask this defense to have to make stops with the personnel that is on the field.
But on the other side of the ball, there are not those injuries. DeMarco Murray was healthy, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and the offensive line were all ready to roll tonight. Where this offense failed was in executing plays. They didn't protect the quarterback and it was clear that no one was able to get open when they had to throw the ball. Tony Romo wasn't at his best and this team needed him to be.
Earlier in the week I spoke about how much Romo enjoyed these types of challenges, but tip your hat to Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and what he was able to do to affect Romo's game. This Cowboys offense did nothing to help their defense tonight and that was the bottom line in the defeat.
How does the loss of Sean Lee effect the Cowboys defense?
This team proved it could win games without DeMarcus Ware, but without Sean Lee in the lineup, it honestly is a lost cause. He is the backbone of this defense, and in my opinion, the best defensive player on this team.
It was clear that without Lee in the lineup, quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints were able to do whatever they pleased on offense. When you have no ability to stop the run or have any type of coverage underneath or on screens, you are going to give up some big plays. Lee can make up for issues that you have up front with his ability to make plays on the spot.
This defense didn't have the leadership, nor did it have that vital player in the lineup that when things were bad, could hold the unit together. Lee makes everyone around him a better player. The one thing you know is that, no matter how hard he has to work to get back, he will do his best to get ready for that Giants game in two weeks.
What did you think about DeMarco Murray's performance?
The weakness of this Saints defense was handling the run, but once the game got out of hand, it was difficult for the Cowboys to stick to that plan. When DeMarco Murray did get the opportunity to run the ball, I thought he looked even better than he did before his injury. He didn't appear to be favoring his leg, and that was a good sign. I thought he ran with power and a purpose, and if this game could have remained close, he had a chance to be a difference maker.
I thought he did a nice job of seeing the holes and when he had to make a cut or a read, he was able to execute that. There were times in the game where I thought he was patient in allowing blocks to develop and taking advantage of them.
As bad as things were for the offense, the play of Murray has to give you some hope going forward – that running the ball should not be an afterthought for this offense, and when needed, Murray can in fact get the job done.