Well, things are starting to get a little testy there in the 2-10 locker room. The most obvious question of the game was since the defense had so much success when it pressured Tony Romo, why did it wait until the middle to end of the second quarter to start blitzing him.
The answer: John Marshall is not utilizing his players correctly. Julian Peterson said this is a team that is built to pressure. Deon Grant was more pointed, saying that they would have met the expectations of 11 returning starters if they had been playing to their strengths. When asked what their strengths were, he said he didn't want to say. "But you all know what time it is," he said.
On the one hand, you can point to the fact that when they did blitz, Josh Wilson got beat by Roy Williams and they gave up big plays anyway. But the other argument is that when they sat back in a zone against Kurt Warner, he did the same thing Romo did to him. When they went man and blitzed, they slowed him down. So it should have made sense to employ the same defense against a team with a similar offense.
Interestingly, Mike Holmgren said last week that he did not want to comment on the future moves of the team. But after this game, he said they are going to have look hard at the defense and make some changes there next year. When Deon Grant was told of that statement, he said that they would not have to change anything if they were used properly.
After we finished talking with Julian, he was finishing up getting dressed and started saying how Flozell Adams was lined up several yards into the backfield, which took away Julian's ability to pass rush. He said the official warned Adams nine times -- "I counted them," he said -- that he was going to throw a flag on him if he did not move up onto the line. And he said Flozell kept telling him, "You know he's not going to throw a flag, so I'm going to stay right where I am." "I mean, I know we are 2-9," Peterson said, "but, damn, call the game the right way. I was so frustrated by that."
Leroy Hill has a stinger in his shoulder and lost some of the strength in his arm. Hill said he doesn't know how he got hurt. I told him it looked like he lowered his head, but he said he'd have to watch the film. Hill too said they should have pressured earlier in the game.
Steve Vallos said he has a lot to learn, and it was difficult to be thrown in there when he had not played in such a long time. He said he needs to get more adept at making line calls.
Matt said he felt pretty good, but it was tough because they got down so quickly and then the Cowboys' pass rush knew it could tee off on him. He said the Cowboys also have an interesting defense where they let you move up and down the field, but then are more stout once you get into the red zone. He said they threw some different defensive looks at them once they got inside the red zone, the reason they could not get in the end zone then.
We also had an interesting exchange with Matt where he revealed that in last night's meeting, Holmgren basically told the players that Dallas is a really good team and they are going to have to play a nearly perfect game to win. A bit sobering, Matt admitted, saying he remembers when they were the team that others feared. We pressed Matt on that point a bit, at which point he backtracked faster than a guinea hen (we had those on the East Coast when I was growing up.) Once he understood why we were asking about what could be construed as a sort of demoralizing message, Matt said the speech actually wasn't about football that much but was more about being thankful and that it was actually one of his most inspirational speeches of the year. (Pinkie to mouth; Riiiiiigggggghhhhtttttt.)
Julius said he doesn't know what is going on with him. He said he has never had a fumbling problem, and now he does. He said he will start paying more attention to it, focus on it and correct it.