IRVING, Texas -- After a review of the Cowboys-Giants II, we offer our weekly Random Thoughts.
1. There were questions last week about whether Bruce Carter can call the defensive signals in place of Sean Lee. Lee is the brains of the Cowboys' defensive operation, but after watching Carter in the loss to the New York Giants, it's clear the Cowboys have nothing to worry about. Carter made the defensive calls and played a solid game at inside linebacker. He was paired with Dan Connor, who later left the game with a strained neck, then teamed with Orie Lemon and Ernie Sims. That's three linebackers with which Carter has had to mesh. Carter, who finished with four solo tackles and a tackle for loss, was good against the run. While he struggles sometimes in pass coverage, overall it was probably one of his best games of the season.
2. It's easy to be critical of Tony Romo's interceptions in the loss, but what bothers me more is the overthrows. He missed a wide-open James Hanna in the back of the end zone. He didn't put a lot of touch on another pass to Jason Witten, who was between two defenders in the end zone. There were other questionable throws, but the last one of the day was the worst. Romo fired a pass out of the end zone on the final play. He has to do better than this and needs to give his receivers a chance to make a play for him. He threw a pass behind Witten, who saved his quarterback with a one-handed grab. Romo is a good quarterback, but sometimes the touch on his throws is off.
3. The Cowboys rushed for just 19 yards against the Giants. Felix Jones played with a bruised knee and looked tentative at times in finishing with 19 yards on 13 carries. Yes, the game got out of hand quickly for the Cowboys, who were down 23-0 18 minutes into a 60-minute contest. But when the Cowboys unexpectedly took the lead, maybe coach Jason Garrett should have given Phillip Tanner or Lance Dunbar some carries. Tanner and Dunbar don't have the same experience as Jones, but he wasn't 100 percent, and sometimes giving a young player a chance isn't a bad thing. It will be interesting to see if Garrett pulls Jones if his health problems continue in Atlanta for the younger running backs during the game.
4. Whenever DeMarco Murray (foot) returns from his injury, the Cowboys shouldn't move Jones back to kick returner. That gig is Dunbar's. Against the Giants, he finished with a season-high 142 yards. Dunbar made defenders miss, and despite one return where he was a little tentative coming out of the end zone, he was an upgrade over Jones. Dunbar could have picked up another good run but ran into his own blocker. It seems Dunbar has the speed and the ability to make defenders miss, something the return game needs.
5. The problem with Dez Bryant isn't with his talent, but that he wants to make so many plays that mistakes happen. On the punt return that turned into a fumble, it seemed Bryant misjudged the ball in the air and then tried to catch it at the last minute. He should have let it the ball hit the ground. Bryant can be a dynamic returner, but his quest to make plays hampers him. Making the easy play, like just catching the ball and getting 5 or 6 yards, is OK; fumbling is not.