1. The 10-6 loss at Tampa was a really rough game for Dez. He had a couple of drops including a big one on 3rd & 1 in the 4th quarter. That's a catch that he makes 99 times out of 100 but he just let that one get away from him. If he is able to hold onto that ball, the Cowboys very well could have won that game. Also, on Cassel's final Hail Mary pass that was intercepted, Dez never jumped or made an attempt to catch the ball. He was in 1-on-1 coverage there and if he had turned around and gone for it, there's a chance he comes down with TD much like he did last week vs the Eagles. You can bet that Dez is as angry at himself as any fan.
Wouldn't be at all surprised to see him have a monster game next week. He's a fierce competitor and a top talent but even guys like that have bad games every now and then.
2. Speaking of bad games, go ahead and add Darren McFadden to that list. Over the last few weeks, McFadden had displayed toughness and power in the way he ran. He was breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards after contact. That player was nowhere to be seen on Sunday. Give Tampa credit, they did a good job of filling running lanes, but McFadden was very indecisive and wasn't running with authority.
On one play, McFadden was tackled for a big loss deep in Cowboys territory and nearly gave up a safety. You can't have those kind of negative plays.
And now we've got running back changes at Valley Ranch: Christine Michael is out ... Rod Smith and Trey Williams -- two UDFA rookies -- remain behind McFadden ... and more changes are brewing ...
And on Wednesday at 7:20 a.m., Fish with the very latest: The Cowboys are signing running back Robert Turbin (5-10, 222) and expect him at practice today. The other roster spots, CHQ is reporting, go to LB Mark Nzeocha, cornerback Deji Olatoye (up from the P-squad, with the assumption that he's outplayed White in recent weeks) and of course, Tony Romo.
Some Turbin action:
3. In previous weeks, Matt Cassel showed the ability to avoid sacks and escape pressure. That wasn't the case on Sunday. Cassel was sacked 3 times and held onto the ball way too long at times. He also threw a pass right into a LB's chest. Luckily, the defender dropped the easy pick. Otherwise, it likely would've been 6 points the other way. Nevertheless, he keeps his job while Brandon Weeden loses his.
Even more lucky: Tony Romo, eligible to return this week (complete with a planned "Romo Wednesday'' of rest, a very good sign) feels pretty positive about Dallas' stretch-run chances ...
4. Morris Claiborne was doing a solid job vs Mike Evans before injuring his hamstring. I was worried about how Carr would fare against him when Claiborne left the game but he was able to hold his own. Carr had 2 pass breakups on Sunday, which is more than he had in the previous 18 regular-season games. But now we have issues with Mo's health ... and the roster shuffling might not be over quite yet.
5. Demarcus Lawrence quietly had another sound game. People look at his sack numbers and say he's underperforming but he offers more than that. Lawrence has been very good against the run and that was no different vs Tampa. He also recorded his 2nd sack of the season and recovered the goal line fumble that was wiped out due to a holding penalty on Jeff Heath. Lawrence has room for improvement but he's been better than people have given him credit for. I'm with KD Drummond here in wanting Tank to "turn the corner,'' but I think it's coming.
6. Greg Hardy was disappointing in this game. He did have a nice tackle for a loss but he was stonewalled far too much and didn't get much pressure all game. However, that's what you get with Hardy. He'll have a couple good games, a bad one and then a great one. These kinds of games are worth it when he gets 3+ sacks in another game. ... also, in fairness:
a) Fish reports that he was dragging his leg around with a limp on the walk to the bus in Tampa.
b) That Winston run-fumble-penalty play was caused by Hardy pressure. So not everything shows up in the boxscore.
c) Guys are late for meetings sometimes. And they get fined for being so. Is is unforgivable? Yes. Does it chip away at the foundation? Yes.
7. Tyler Patmon had a couple of nice pass breakups, one of which was a dropped interception with less than 30 seconds remaining in the 1st half. The other was on a 3rd down pass in the 4th quarter. Despite limited playing time, he is tied for the team lead in PBU's this season, with 6.
8. Anthony Hitchens might have had his best game of the season vs Tampa. He was all over the field, making and stuffing the run despite dealing with several injuries. He was physical and confident. He made a really nice tackle for a loss in the 3rd quarter with Tampa pinned back at their own 8 yard line. He also had a nice pass breakup deep downfield.
Sean Lee (concussion) is coming back. I don't know where Ro is physically or otherwise. Maybe Mark N..... can help. It's a mad scramble here right now.
9. Byron Jones had another impressive game. He played safety and then moved to corner after Claiborne went down. He's done everything this coaching staff has asked of him - which is a lot. You couldn't ask from much more from a rookie. ... who has been about as good a defensive player as Dallas has.
10. Chris Jones arguably had his best game of the year in the middle of the best season of his career. Jones pinned the Bucs back all day, sending 4 of his 6 punts inside Tampa's 20-yard line. Meanwhile, the usual automatic Dan Bailey had his first missed field goal attempt of the year. He still made 2 other FG's, however, including a 53-yarder. Rod Smith and Cole Beasley also showed up on special teams. Smith returned a kickoff for 26 yards and Beasley had a career-high 22 yard punt return.
Wanna be haunted a little bit, though? That Bailey miss might've changed the complexion of that game in Florida. And this week Dallas might need special-teams perfection on a return trip to the Sunshine State.
From now to then? The Blame Game from the onlookers ... and some fun from Fish here in "There Must Be 50 Ways To Bereave Your Cowboys.''