EL PASO, TX
I understand that the Cowboys wanted to create more takeaways this season, but with four against the Lions and still losing and six against the Giants and barely winning, don't you think that giving up more yards is more costly than creating takeaways?
Rowan: It depends how many yards and how many takeaways. In general, I'd take the defense that can create takeaways if it means sacrificing some more yards. But the pace at which the Cowboys' defense is allowing yards is getting to be obscene. The defense has to create about four turnovers to have a good day, and that's just a rate that doesn't seem sustainable. The offense also has to do a better job converting on their good field position when the defense does create turnovers. That's what makes the takeaways so crucial.
David: It's a valid question. The Cowboys scored 24 points off turnovers against New York, which was fantastic. But in doing so, they put the Giants in a must-pass situation and couldn't do much to slow down Eli Manning. I think the Detroit game was more a case of the offense not helping the defense, as the Cowboys created four turnovers and only managed 10 points off the four extra opportunities. Honestly, I think I'd prefer a defense that gives up a few more yards in exchange for a few more takeaways – because it creates so much more potential for game-changing plays and momentum swings. But I think anyone would agree 600-plus yards is a far cry from "a few more."
I am absolutely baffled as to why the coaches don't use Dunbar's skills to their advantage, much like the Saints do with Sproles. Aren't you?
Rowan:Sproles is one of a kind. He's not the same guy as Dunbar, although I get the point. I think the lack of use of Dunbar is one [embedded_ad] of the biggest surprises of the season, considering the difference Dunbar made in the preseason. He does have a similar skill set to Sproles and can turn short gains into difference-making plays. It's confusing. More touches for Dunbar wouldn't have changed the outcome of this game, and DeMarco Murray was running really well. But I'm not sure why they haven't been able to get the shifty back more looks during the season, particularly with the offense stalling lately.
David: I've been saying it all year: I don't think Dunbar is on the same level as Sproles as a playmaker, but I certainly think he's a valuable enough player to merit more than 1.9 touches per game. We've seen what he can do in open space, and honestly I think he's tough enough to carry the ball inside a few times per game, as well. It's not often you see the Cowboys get as creative with their playcalling as the Saints do, though. Maybe that's because they don't trust the offensive line, or maybe it's because of their commitment to a more power-oriented ground game. Either way, it's confusing.