TAMPA, Fla. – I'll be back Monday with an in-depth look at Cowboys-Bucs, but for now, here are 12 quick thoughts about the Cowboys' seventh straight loss, as seen from my vantage point inside the Raymond James Stadium press box:
1) I had no problem with the third-and-1 pass play to Dez Bryant late in the game because I had seen him make that catch a million times before. What was disappointing is that I thought he was in outstanding position on Sterling Moore to come down with that ball. This one that he will look back on and know he should have made the play.
2)Tampa Bay has some talented defensive players on their front seven, but not to the point that they should have shut down the Dallas running game. I didn't see many running lanes for the backs, but I also noticed there were too many times where either Darren McFadden or Christine Michael were not as decisive as they needed to be and the ground game suffered because of it.
3) One of the things that I preached when Matt Cassel took over at quarterback was his pocket awareness and mobility. I'm not sure he played with either this afternoon. There were too many snaps when he held the ball, which led to sacks. I promise there are going to be some plays that I study on tape that he could have made to open receivers, but didn't.
4)Byron Jones moving to cornerback hurt this team in the second half. The adjustment they could have made was to play him on the Buccaneers tight ends that were able to find space later in the game. By playing on the outside that left Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath to have to deal with that situation.
5) I thought moving Greg Hardy around would have created more opportunities for some pressures and sacks. I can only recall one time when I felt like Hardy did that. Very disappointing.
6)Give Zack Martin and La'el Collins a lot of credit. Having to deal with Gerald McCoy is no easy task when he rushes the passer, and it appears that both were able to hold up well. McCoy was not a factor at all.
7) From the field, it appeared that Jason Witten was open down the middle of the field on the final play, which could have given Cassel a shot at the end zone. Instead, he went farther down the field, which resulted in the game-ending interception. It was one of those games where Witten was open a bunch.
8) Bet the tape shows that Anthony Hitchens was a bright spot on defense. There is something about him when he is coming off an injury that he plays his best football. There were several snaps where I had my glasses on him, and he was either in the pile or right near it.
9) I believed that Cole Beasley was going to be a big part of the game plan, but once again, Cassel couldn't find him. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan even lined Beasley up in the backfield to create some separation, but Cassel went the other direction. The Buccaneers' Adam Humphries is a similar player to Beasley and Jameis Winston did a nice job of getting him the ball in some clutch spots.[embeddedad0]
10)Was surprised that the Buccaneers decided to attack Morris Claiborne the way they did. Maybe I am wrong about the way that he is playing, but they were able to take advantage of him in some matchups with Mike Evans and his size. This hamstring problem that Claiborne has will likely be a big issue.
11)Even when this team finds ways to create turnovers, it manages to lose. Coming into this game, I thought that if they could have forced Winston into some mistakes, they would find a way to win. Tyler Patmon's drop before the half could have been another one and would have most likely led to some points. This has been an all too common problem this season.
12) It should be great emotionally for this team to have Tony Romo back under center, but like I said in my "Gut Feeling" after the game, the problems are much deeper than that. Bill Parcells would always say, "You are what you are." I am starting to believe that about this team.