In light of the thrilling victory by the Dallas Cowboys over my former team, I thought I would share some of my thoughts. I was very impressed with the atmosphere in Buffalo. The Bills fans are really great fans. When I first started coaching in Buffalo, they had only sold 18,000 season tickets, and we could not even get a home preseason game because people would not come out to see it. But that changed once we won the division with an 11-5 record in 1981...we were selling the place out and it has been that way ever since.
I was completely shocked (just like everybody else) that the Cowboys came out on top in the game. Very seldom do you win when you turn the ball over six times. I give Wade Phillip's team credit, though, because they made the plays when they absolutely had to make them, including the field goal as time expired. The Cowboys will no doubt learn from their game in Buffalo, and I believe that they have as good a chance as anybody else (probably the best chance in the NFC) to make a run at the Super Bowl. Romo has played very well, but he just did not play his best football on Monday night. He was very inconsistent and erratic at times, but when he is on his game, he looks like one of the better quarterbacks in the league. A lot has been made about the suspension of Dallas' QB coach Wade Wilson and how that has hurt Romo's play. People tend to talk about coaching only when a guy is not playing well, but when he is playing well, they do not mention it. Tony Romo played outstanding the first four weeks, and he does not deserve to be overly criticized for one bad outing.
Although the Cowboys did make the plays that counted, Buffalo truly gift-wrapped it for them. The Bills could have used the ground game more often to milk the clock. With another minute or two run off, they would have assured themselves the win. As a coach, you can never allow yourself to get too far away from the running game. You need to mix it in well to keep the defense from loading up with an 8 man front and committing players to the blitz.
Defensively, the late stages of the game were mismanaged as well, in my opinion. The Bills could have played a Dime coverage with extra DBs and put a defender on either side to cover the short out routes. The only place the Cowboys could have gone was to the out routes because with just six seconds to play and no timeouts, a deep out completion or a pass over the middle surely runs the clock down. Jauron's team needed to have a plan in that situation, but they just missed the assignments. They would not even have had to worry about the Dime defense if they had just recovered the onside kick. Buffalo's hands team needed to get their assignments correct and execute. Sam Hurd broke through the Bills line and deflected the ball that Tony Curtis eventually recovered. Somebody for Buffalo needed to block off Hurd, and the rest of the hands team should have pursued the ball with more urgency. That play really hurt.
It was amazing to see rookie kicker Nick Folk for Dallas nail two straight field goals from 53 yards when his long in college was a 52-yarder. Incredible as it was, I think the rules committee is going to have to take another look at the timeout rule. The players on the field do not even know if the timeout is called because the coach is standing on the sideline in the referee's ear. The league has really opened up a can of worms by allowing the coaches to call a timeout just before the ball is snapped. Pretty soon, a play like that will backfire when the field goal is missed on the first try, but the team is granted a second chance because of the timeout. I may be old fashioned, but I like the old system. I think the coach should signal the timeout in to his players just as he does a defensive or offensive play.
I am really looking forward to the game this weekend between Dallas and New England. Romo and the Cowboys will have their hands full when they host the Patriots. New England seems to have regained their spot as the top team in the league this year. They have everything going for them: great coaching, great players and they have a great quarterback in Tom Brady. With the off-season additions, they have become dominant. The emotion of a win like the Cowboys just got over Buffalo will be too much to overcome on a short week...New England should come out victorious.