Saturday, December 20, 2008

Marion Barber active for Ravens game

Marion Barber was a game-time decision. He's been activated for tonight's game.

Against a tough rush defense like that of the Ravens, which allows the third fewest yards (78.0) per game, it obviously helps to have a rugged RB like Barber in the lineup.

However, Tashard Choice has played extremely well in Barber's absence.

Barber has 872 yards on 233 attempts for an average of 3.7 ypc and 7 TDs.

Choice has 326 yards on 62 attempts for an average of 5.3 ypc and 1 TD.

Cowboys vs Ravens Preview, 12/20

The Cowboys have played 5 solid games of football - 1 bad quarter since the bye week and Tony Romo returned.

The Cowboys host the Ravens tonight in the Texas Stadium finale. Both teams are 9-5 and in the playoffs now as wildcard teams if the season were to end today.

The Cowboys control their destiny and are in as the 5 seed if they win out.

Marion Barber is listed as a game-time decision and Tony Romo will play despite an ailing back. Initially, it looked like Pacman's season and career could have been over, but he will play tonight.

Ray Rice is out for Ravens.

The Ravens' defense allow the 2nd fewest yards (257.5) in the NFL behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens have improved their pass defense from last year (20) to now rank 2nd in the league (179.5 ypg).

Tony Romo is trying to diffuse the Witten-T.O.-Romo love triangle by saying the right things. But T.O. specifically needs to put his qualms aside and put the team first.
"It's just part of playing football," Romo said after bouncing back from a four-turnover performance in Pittsburgh. "We have a lot of highly competitive individuals who want to win. I give a lot of credit to T.O. and Jason for drumming this whole thing up to take attention away."
Prediction for tonight's game: Dallas Cowboys 13, Baltimore Ravens 10

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cowboys should let T.O. go in off-season

The Cowboys are currently in the 6th seed in the NFC playoff picture heading into Week 15. However, they play the 9-3 Baltimore Ravens next week at home and the 7-5-1 Philadelphia Eagles on the road to end the season. Other teams in the NFC wildcard mix are Tampa Bay (9-4), Atlanta (8-5), Philadelphia (7-5-1), Washington (7-6) and New Orleans (7-7 after loss to Bears Thursday).

Now, Terrell Owens, signed to a contract extension in the off-season, is pulling his old antics like when in San Fran and Philly.

Earlier in the week, T.O. was crying about how Tony Romo and Jason Witten were secretly drawing up plays because they are roommates on the road. In fact, T.O. then had a meeting without Romo and Witten but with some receivers to complain to Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett about the "buddy system."

According to ESPN, Romo has thrown to Ownes 87 times (43 receptions) and Witten 80 times (57 receptions).

Although T.O. and Witten have denied it, the latest are reports that the two were involved in a scuffle in the Cowboys locker room.
... it didn’t come without a near altercation Friday between Owens and tight end Jason Witten in the Cowboys’ locker room. According to two sources, the two exchanged words before being separated. Both players acted as if everything was fine when the media was allowed in the locker room. But Owens was still clearly miffed.
The focus this week should be on the New York Football Giants and the Cowboys' playoff survival. Instead, T.O. has shifted the spotlight to where he prefers it - on himself.

Bill Parcells might have been too much of a hard ass. But with Parcells gone, the people that should stand up to T.O. (owner, HC, OC, QB, etc.) aren't.

Jerry Jones should cut his losses and cut loose the T.O. in the off-season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pacman's career may be over due to neck injury

The neck injury that is keeping Adam "Pacman" Jones out of the Giants game this week and the rest of the season may also end Pacman's career.

After the countless (o.k. I guess I could count but I'm lazy) incidents that has involved Pacman Jones, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave him another opportunity while threatening that this was the last straw if he screwed up one last time.

When he was initially suspended for a "minimum of 4 games," I argued that Pacman should have been banned for life instead. I definitely don't wish harm or ill health upon anyone (even Pacman), but it looks like karma has caught up with him.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jerry Jones calls out Barber

Facing the top-ranked rushing (and passing) defense was a difficult challenge for his first-ever career start. However, Tashard Choice met the challenge.

Choice finished the game with 166 combined rushing/receiving yards against the Steelers.

However, Jerry Jones was surprised that Marion "The Barbarian" Barber didn't play. With his rugged running style, the Cowboys certainly could have used Barber in the 4th quarter to close the game.
"He can play with that injured toe," Jones said. "He can play with the soreness and a combination of those things. I see nothing that led us to believe he couldn’t."
Not only did Tashard Choice impress me, but he impressed others including Jerry Jones and Steelers LB Lamar Woodley.
"Tashard might have added a plus," Jones said. "I don’t think we lost any slack there."

"He’s a pretty good back. We knew that," Woodley said. "When he saw a hole he hit it, so you have to give him props. He ain’t in the NFL for nothing."
The good news for the Cowboys is they are now in the 6th-seed (moved up a spot) after the Falcons (and the Redskins) lost.

The bad news is they finish up their season at home against the Giants (11-2) and Ravens (9-4) and on the road against the Eagles (7-5-1).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No Marion Barber vs Steelers, maybe no DeMarcus Ware

Today when the Dallas Cowboys face the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will be without RB Marion Barber. Tashard Choice, who has played well on the season, will get the start. Yesterday, the Cowboys activated Antonio Coleman from their practice squad to provide depth.

Tashard Choice will face the #1-ranked rushing defense (71.2 ypg) in the NFL in first-ever career start. They also lead the NFL in passing defense (166.8 ypg).

According to Ed Werder of ESPN, DeMarcus Ware will be a game-time decision as well.

Marion Barber has 870 rushing yards and 7 TDs on the season. Tashard Choice has 147 rushing yards on 30 carries (4.9 ypc). DeMarcus Ware leads the Cowboys and the NFL in sacks with 15.

Friday, November 28, 2008

3 straight heading into December

The Cowboys have taken care of business three weeks in a row although their last 2 games were against 2 horrible NFC West teams (San Fran and Seattle). But then again, they can only play the opponents that are on their schedule.

Before those games, it was known that their schedule would get much tougher in December. Although the post-bye week games in November weren't "must-win," they were "can't-lose" games.

Although they won all 3 post-bye games, injuries to Marion Barber (toe) and DeMarcus Ware (knee) would have sapped all the enthusiasm out of another win had their injuries appeared more serious. Barber's initial x-rays (half-time and end of 3rd quarter) were negative and Ware wanted to go back into the game.
"I wanted to go back out there, but they told me no," said Ware, who had his knee iced and propped on the bench after he left the game.
Their final four games of the season are at Pittsburgh, home against the Giants and Ravens and then at Philly. Definitely four tough games against playoff-bound (or caliber) opponents, but the first 2 of those 4 are even tougher than the second 2. I would be thrilled with a split heading into the home (and Texas Stadium) finale with a 9-5 record.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Felix Jones out for season

Felix Jones is out for the season. His hamstring is better, but he has a torn ligament in his big toe that requires surgery and can't wait for the end of the season.
"We have got to really protect his future. He is a young guy," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Thursday afternoon. "I don’t mind telling you the last two days have been concerning because of what we thought he could bring to the table. Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of guys out there that can make plays."

"We felt that Tashard Choice was going to have to play more plays than he has, and that’s the direction we’ll go," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.
The Cowboys have and will continue to miss what Felix brings to the table. He was averaging nearly 9 yards per carry and over 27 yards per kickoff return.

But I'm not sure why the Cowboys haven't used Tashard Choice more often while Felix Jones has been out. Choice has 72 yards on 13 carries for a 5.5 average.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pacman Jones reinstated by NFL

How many chances should Pacman Jones get? After serving a year-long suspension, he was reinstated during the pre-season. Six weeks later, he got into a scuffle with one of his bodyguards in the bathroom of a Dallas hotel.

I believed at that point that Jones should have never been allowed to play in the NFL again. However, Pacman was suspended for a "minimum" of four games and he later went to an alcohol treatment facility.

Now, Jerry Jones is saying that Pacman Jones will be reinstated under certain conditions and he is likely to play next on December 7th when the Cowboys play the Steelers.
"He much appreciates the Cowboys and Jerry Jones for standing behind him and encouraging him, and he's grateful to the commissioner," said Worrick Robinson, Adam Jones' Nashville-based attorney.

"It all starts with him and his decision-making," Robinson said. "He's comfortable making decisions for himself."
Jerry Jones won't provide bodyguards to keep Jones out of trouble. And it won't be long before we hear the latest Pacman gets in trouble headlines again. I'm setting the over/under at 3 1/2 weeks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cowboys - Redskins Preview

Tonight, the Cowboys will be in Washington to take on their hated rivals as they begin their post-bye push to make a run towards the post-season. Coming into tonight's game, they are 5-4 and tied with Philadelphia for last in the NFC East. Philadelphia is currently tied with the Cincinnati Bengals 13-13 with 5:18 to go in the 4th quarter as I write this.

After tonight's game, the Cowboys should begin a 3-game winning streak if/when they win tonight. The next 2 games are against a pair of NFC West teams with 2-7 records: Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
"Everyone says we are out of the picture," Owens said. "There's seven games left. We're not counting ourselves out by any means."

"I've done a lot of studying, and a lot of thinking about the game and trying to gain an understanding of what it is we may need to do a little bit differently or what we may need to continue to do or do better," said Romo, who completed 28 of 47 passes for 300 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against the Redskins in Week 4. "I feel very confident and excited going forward about things that we may have changed around, improved upon.

"I think this team has got a great second-half run in it. Hopefully we'll be able to show that this week."

The December schedule is much tougher than the remaining November schedule. The Cowboys will play the Giants and Ravens at home and the Steelers and Eagles on the road.

Clinton Portis, who is 2nd in the NFL in rushing, will likely miss tonight's game. The Cowboys get Terence Newman back tonight as well. I would expect the Cowboys to double-cover Moss, who has 3 straight 100-yard receiving games against the Cowboys.

Tonight is a put-up-or-shut-up game. I expect the Cowboys to come out with a sense of urgency as their backs are against the wall. Prediction: Cowboys 27, Redskins 21

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kyle Kosier back to provide continuity to O-Line

The Cowboys return a lot of starters this week: Terence Newman in the secondary and Tony Romo calling signals. Both of those guys are huge part's of the defense and offense respectively.

But another critical return is Kyle Kosier to the left guard spot.
"I think it will be very big having Kyle back," Gurode said. "Playing with a guy a number of years and then him coming back definitely helps us out. But we have a lot of work to do on the offensive line to get things back on track."

"A guy grunts and the other guy knows what he's doing," Houck said. "So Kyle and Flo work together well. Not that Cory did a poor job. But I just think from a communication standpoint, I think it will be valuable to us."
With Kosier back, it does provide continuity to this unit having all 5 starters back. But the also need to develop a little more of a nasty streak. As much talent and size as the O-Line has, they should be dominating in the trenches with or without Kosier.

Terence Newman back, Felix Jones ruled out

Felix Jones has been ruled out for tomorrow night's game in D.C. However, Terence Newman is back and ready to go.

Considering how the Cowboys have struggled in slowing down Santana Moss, who has 3 straight 100-yard receiving games against Dallas, it's important to have Newman back on the field. And Newman has a score to settle from their last encounter week 4.
"I’m coming out straight ballin’," Newman said. "As far as I know, this could be my last game. That’s how I’m coming out. I’m taking that mentality. I’ve got to lay everything out on this game."

"You want to have him healthy, because that’s the only chance you really have to defend against Santana Moss," linebacker Bradie James said of Newman. "He finds a way to get open. He makes big plays, and you want your best players out there trying to cover that guy."

"I think it will give us another opportunity to do some extra things we weren’t doing," Phillips said [on having Newman back].
The Cowboys should be able to get more pressure on Campbell with Newman back there. Hopefully, the 'Boys will use a lot of defensive sets with Ware, Ellis and Spencer all on the field at the same time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Romo says the "open" guy will get the ball

Roy Williams has been frustrated with his involvement in the Cowboys offense. In 3 games, he has 3 receptions.

Tony Romo said the right thing, but needs to stick to it.
"We'll see the coverages they play and who's open," Romo said. "If Roy is open, he will get the ball. If someone else is open, they'll get the ball. Coverages will dictate stuff."
Get the "open" WR the ball. Spread it around. With T.O. and Williams at WR and Witten at TE and Barber or Felix in the backfield, someone should be open. There are too many weapons on this offense for the opposing defenses to stop everyone.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Roy Williams frustrated about role

The Dallas Cowboys acquired WR Roy Williams from the Detroit Lions for several draft picks on October 14th. Since then, Williams has played in 3 games and has had 3 catches.

As you can imagine, Williams isn't thrilled with his involvement in the Cowboys offense.

"It's frustrating for me, because I'm on the sidelines," Williams told reporters this week. "You can't do nothing on the sidelines."

Asked if he was possibly hurt, Williams replied, "Hurt? Yeah, my feelings."

Offensively, the Cowboys need to establish the running game and get better play from the O-Line.

But the Cowboys have arguably the best tandem of WRs in the league east of Phoenix (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin). And if you include a trio of WR-WR-TE, the Cowboys' trio of Owens-Williams-Witten has to be the best in the NFL.

When healthy and utilized properly, the Cowboys should have the most balanced offense in the NFL.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tony Romo looked good at practice today

Tony Romo was back at practice today and had a good practice. The Cowboys have a practice tomorrow as well, but then will have the rest of the weekend off.
"It's still not all the way healed, but it's getting there," Romo said. "I can definitely grip the ball much better."

"We don't know what is going to happen in two weeks," he said. "I do know I am going to use [the splint] and pretend like I have to use it [against Washington]. If I don't, it's just a positive."
Tony Romo shouldn't have to try to do too much, but the offensive line needs to better protect the QB better.
"I don't think it's a matter of him coming in and trying to be Superman and really saving this team," Owens said. "We have more than enough capable guys in the locker room to make plays for him."
The Cowboys are 5-4 and in last place in the NFC East. With 7 games (many of them tough ones) to go, the Cowboys need Romo and their other injured players to come back healthy against Washington, who are 6-3 and on a bye as well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bollinger #2 QB on depth chart

Brooks Bollinger will the back-up QB when the Cowboys play the Redskins in 2 weeks. Unless, of course, Romo isn't back, in which case Bollinger would start.
"I thought there was some zip in the offense when he got on the field. I don’t know if it would have made the difference. Would it have it made a difference had he been there early? Who knows. I think he’s certainly a legitimate consideration for the backup."
Really Jerry? "Who knows?" The only difference it would have made was maybe the Cowboys lose by 14 instead of 21. Bollinger wouldn't have made a 21-point difference.

But to be fair to Brooks - this team has many more problems aside from the QB situation.

Romo finds it funny, I don't

I realize it's "just a game," but is there anything that Roy Williams could have said that is funny enough to have this much fun when you're getting your ass kicked?

This picture was taken in the 3rd quarter.

Only 2 practices this week?


Pathetic sums up how the offense played, how the defense played, how the coaches coached, etc. yesterday as well as the past few weeks.

The Cowboys may not play anyone on Sunday the 9th or Monday the 10th, but should they have time off? Well, they're getting a lot of it still. Wade Phillips has 2 practices scheduled for this week - Wednesday and Thursday.

Granted some players are hurt and need the rest to recover for the game against the Redskins. But c'mon. This team doesn't deserve a bye. This makes no sense to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cowboys - Giants Preview

Today, the Dallas Cowboys take on the New York Giants in New Jersey. According to Vegas oddsmakers, the Cowboys have no chance - they are 9-point underdogs. That's not a typo - 9 points!

Without Michael Strahan (retirement) and Osi Umyeniora (injury), the Giants again lead the NFL in sacks (26). How do you stop the Giants pass rush? Run Marion Barber and then run him some more. Marion Barber should get a minimum 25 carries today.

The Cowboys need to play mistake-free football. Brad Johnson needs to avoid interceptions and the entire team needs to be more disciplined and avoid careless penalties.

With Anthony Spencer back, the Cowboys should utilize the "Cowboy" formation often with Spencer, DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis on the field at the same time to apply pressure on Eli.

I'm going out on a limb and you can call me a homer, but here's my prediction: Cowboys 24, Giants 21 in OT. The Cowboys ride off into the sunset stunning the G-Men and come back after the bye in good shape (literally and figuratively) with Romo, Newman and Felix coming back against the Redskins on the 16th.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cowboys Quick Hits

News and notes for Cowboys fans, who are like me and unable to pay attention for too long:
  • The former (and self-proclaimed) dominos champ: "I'm in a slump right now," Williams said, acknowledging that the competition is much tougher at Valley Ranch than it was in Detroit. "They can count a little bit better here. I've got to learn my new personnel."
  • The Cowboys new stadium will be home to the 2010 NBA All-Star game. "I don't know what the largest crowd ever to see a basketball game in the United States is," [NBA Commissioner David] Stern said Thursday. "I think it's about 78,000. We're going to top that. If Mark wants to push it to 100,000, God bless him."
  • Injury update: Kyle Kosier, Terence Newman and Felix Jones are out, Jason Witten is questionable and Anthony Henry, Anthony Spencer and Pat Watkins are probable.
  • Jerry expects more (then again, who doesn't?) from back-up QBs: "With Brad Johnson and all our backup quarterbacks, we need to play at a higher level," Jones said. "That was a big game for us last week, but we need to do better than that as far as moving the ball. If we are going to be the team we want to be and I expect us to be, we need good backup quarterbacking."
  • Zach Thomas has become more of a vocal leader: "He hadn’t been real vocal until last week," Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears said. "You just pay attention to the way he plays. Leadership is so overrated. It’s something that has to be done. You’re not going to listen to a guy who doesn’t play. Zach has been doing it, and doing it at a high level for a long time, so you do pay attention."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Anthony Spencer to be let loose Sunday

Joe Thomas, one of the league's best LT's and Wisconsin alum, has said that Anthony Spencer of Purdue was the toughest guy to block that he faced in college. And on Sunday Wade Phillips is going to let Spencer "loose" against the Giants.
"They couldn't block him," Phillips said. "He just had a tremendous training camp. He looked so good, but he's just been hampered by injuries. I just think he's to the point where people have trouble blocking him."
They Cowboys plan to use the Cowboy (3-3 formation) with DeMarcus Ware, Greg Ellis and Spencer all on the field at the same time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Orlando Scandrick doesn't lack self-confidence

Confidence is important in sports and in life. When it comes to football, perhaps the most important position to have confidence (aside from QB) is CB. And rookie Orlando Scandrick certainly doesn't lack confidence.
"If you don't believe in yourself, no one will believe in you," Scandrick said. "I always believed in myself ... just never afraid to fail. I am not afraid to get beat. Everybody is going to get beat. But if you are not afraid of getting beat, you are going to win more than you lose."
Once you lose confidence in yourself at CB, it's impossible to be effective. Scandrick has the right attitude though. If you do get burned (and all CBs do at some point), you have to put it in the past and be able to "man up" the next play.

Anthony Henry and Anthony Spencer practiced today so hopefully they both can go on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Football Links

Sports Illustrated NFL page
NFL Scores and Football News

If you have a Cowboys site or an NFL, NCAA Football, NFL Draft, Fantasy Football site and you would be interested in swapping links, please let me know.

E-mail me at thenfldiehard (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Should Jason Witten play with a broken rib?

Jason Witten broke a rib in the game versus the Bucs on Sunday. After Sunday's game, he said he hoped to play versus the Giants this upcoming Sunday. Witten will give it a go on Sunday, but Brian Davis of the Dallas Morning News asks is it worth the risk in his blog post this afternoon.

Jason Witten leads the Cowboys in receptions (46) and receiving yards (549). Without Witten in the lineup, the Cowboys would miss the dimension he adds to the passing game and offense in general. But the Cowboys have sufficient weapons to help Brad Johnson, who let's face it - needs as much help as he can get.

However, talent has not been the Cowboys problem this season (or last season). They sent 13 players to Honolulu last year.

Their problem has been their toughness, focus and discipline. If (arguably) their best receiver - no offense T.O. - shows his toughness by playing with a broken rib, the rest of the team should see his example and play inspired, passionate football. Specifically, the guys who line up next to Witten (the O-Line) need to show/develop some nastiness. Hopefully, Witten's grit leads to that.

I agree with Davis in the sense that I prefer to have Witten for the last 7 after the bye versus the 1 before the bye. But I can see Witten playing Sunday being more than adding his vast offensive skills to the Cowboys lineup. It could be the attitude-changer that the Cowboys need to really make a push towards post-season success.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jason Witten hopes to play vs Giants

In today's game, Jason Witten hurt his ribs. He left the game after the injury, came back for a series and then called it a day.

X-rays came back negative.
“I tried to doctor it up a little bit at halftime and come out, but just didn’t have it in me,” Witten said. “I’ve just got to fight through and hopefully get back to it next week.”
The Cowboys won without Witten for the majority of the game today, but it goes without saying that having him back in the lineup would be a big help to Brad Johnson, who doesn't have the strongest arm, when the Cowboys face the Giants.

Big win over Tampa Bay today

After being off (by a lot) on my Cowboys-Rams pick, I'm glad that I was right today - a 4-point Dallas victory. Today, the Cowboys beat the Bucs 13-9 despite losing another offensive player to injury: Jason Witten, who left the game with a rib injury.

The game was "ugly," but the Cowboys won. It's as simple as that. I rather win ugly than lose pretty.

Wade Phillips, who took over defensive play calling this week, was given the game ball by Jerry Jones.
"Wade Phillips did his job today," said Jerry, who praised Phillips "gutsy" calls and shrewd psychological moves. ". Today was a big victory for this teamIt gives us a chance to stay in the hunt of where we want to be at the end of the year."
The Cowboys held the Bucs to 48 rushing yards on 19 attempts. The Cowboys held serve in the division as both the Eagles and Redskins won as well. The Giants are currently losing to the Steelers 7-3 in the 2nd quarter.

Cowboys - Bucs Preview

Today's game vs Tampa Bay is as much of a must-win for Dallas as a game can be a "must-win" in week 8. The Cowboys currently have a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles for 3rd place in the NFC East.

With a loss today, the Cowboys would fall to 4-4 with games on the road in NY and Washington next. Also, the Eagles are 9-point favorites over the Falcons at home. Although the Falcons are playing better than I expected, the Eagles should win that game relatively easily as they get back a healthy Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis. So, after today's game, the Eagles are likely to be 4-3.

Heading into today's game, the Bucs are perfect at home (4-0). But they are only 1-2 on the road.

The Cowboys are without Tony Romo again and the soonest he'll be back in week 11 vs Washington.

The Cowboys offensive line (and whole team for that matter) is as talented as any other group in the league. However, they haven't been playing that way. The Cowboys' OL needs to protect Brad Johnson better, but even more importantly, the Cowboys NEED to establish the run early and often. And it all begins with the big boys up front.

If the Cowboys can run the ball effectively, they will take the pressure off Johnson to make plays. Marion the Barbarian needs to run with passion and the reckless abandon that only he can, which will be the sparkplug that ignites this offense.

Wade Phillips is going to take over defensive play-calling. And the defense should focus more on executing a certain, smaller set of plays. Keep it simple.

With their backs against the wall, this is a put up or shut up type of game.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More focus on basics for D

The Dallas Cowboys defense has suffered some injuries early in the season. Terence Newman, Roy Williams, Anthony Spencer, etc. have missed games and/or currently are out. Plus, Adam "Pacman" Jones is out indefinitely (and will probably never play in Big D again).

The Cowboys are giving up the 9th-most points per game at 25.0. The Cowboys also have only 2 interceptions on the season (only Seattle and Detroit have fewer).

Wade Phillips will take over play-calling responsibilities for the defense. And the Cowboys are going to focus on a few plays and make sure they do those well instead of several that most likely won't be called in the game.
“We need to do one or two, three things very good,” Phillips said. “We have a lot of calls we haven't used in a game. Our players are preparing to do all those calls (in practice). We need to streamline that part.”

“This game is real simple: They run it, we stop it,” [Tank] Johnson said. “Build a wall. Defense is all about building a wall and offense is about scoring points. As a defense, we have to get better at building a wall and stopping them within that three or four plays we are going to concentrate on.”
If the defense can stop giving up the big play, then the Cowboys can allow Marion Barber and the big boys up front to play a more physical style of football on offense and allow Brad Johnson to manage the game.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cowboys - Rams keys to the game

The St. Louis Rams were the worst team in the NFL until last week with the exception of the Detroit Lions. Although the Rams beat the Redskins last week, can they pull off back-to-back upsets over superior NFC East opponents? Will Tony Romo, who's not starting but declared back-up for today's game, play?

Here are the keys to the game for the Cowboys according to the Sporting News:
1. Perform well on special teams: The Cowboys' coverage units have been spotty much of the year, but they had a complete special teams meltdown against Arizona. They allowed J.J. Arrington to return the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, the third kick return of more than 45 yards in the past two games. Dallas also allowed a blocked punt that Arizona returned for a touchdown to win the game. The Cowboys can't hope to win if they're giving up touchdowns on special teams.

2. Keep Torry Holt under 100 yards: Four times this season, the Cowboys have allowed a receiver to surpass 100 yards, so Holt should be looking forward to playing against the Dallas secondary. The Cowboys have allowed at least one 30-yard reception each of the past four games. They're pressuring opposing quarterbacks but not sacking them. The challenge will be greater without top corner Terence Newman (sports hernia) and nickel back Pacman Jones (suspension).

3. Run the ball: The Cowboys' running game has been inconsistent all season. Marion Barber has just one 100-yard game and has reached 80 yards only three times. More concerning is that he has averaged less than 3.8 yards per carry each of the past three weeks. With Johnson filling in as starting quarterback, the running game becomes more important. The Cowboys don't want to put the onus on Johnson to win games. The way to do that is to run the ball.

Here's my prediction for the game: Cowboys 35, Rams 17

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tony Romo wants to play Sunday?

Tony Romo broke his right pinkie finger and it was estimated that he would miss roughly 4 weeks.

Brett Favre has called Romo telling him that he should try to play through it (if he could).
"The only thing I said was, it's worth trying [to play] if you can deal with the pain and can function good enough with a splint,'' Favre said. "If not, don't try.''
And Romo has reportedly told coaches that he wants to play Sunday.

Romo did not practice on Wednesday but did throw the ball on the side with his fractured pinkie in a splint, and according to eyewitnesses, he was able to throw the ball with good velocity and appeared confident after throwing. The session was not open to reporters.

There is no assurance he can protect the ball, take a snap or deliver the ball accurately under game conditions.

The Cowboys' biggest concern is that Romo gets hit again, causing him to miss more time than initially anticipated and possibly require surgery.

The Cowboys play the St. Louis Rams Sunday. With or without Tony Romo, the Cowboys should win this game and win big. I wouldn't risk Romo vs the Rams. The other 2 games that he's expected to miss (vs Bucs, at Giants) are much tougher. If he can play, I would consider letting him play I were on the Cowboys coaching staff. But in the greater scheme of things, it might just make more sense to let it heal and have Romo come back healthy and not have to worry about him getting hit and causing more (serious) damage.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cowboys acquire WR Roy Williams for draft picks

Roy Williams wasn't happy with his role in Detroit with Calvin Johnson getting the bulk of looks. In the off-season, there was a lot of speculation that the Cowboys were pursuing a deal with Detroit to bring (the other) Roy Williams to Big D.

Well, there is no more speculation. The Cowboys have added Roy Williams in exchange for a 1st-round, 3rd-round and 6th-round pick. The Cowboys also get a 7th-rounder from Detroit.

No question that Roy Williams significantly upgrades the Cowboys #2 WR. But will he (and T.O.) be happy and is the price too much?

Roy Williams is from Texas and is coming home to play for a legitimate Super Bowl contender. As recently as when Matt Millen was fired, he was quoted as saying that Detroit has a "realistic chance to make the playoffs, believe it or not". That obviously wasn't true. According to Jerry Jones, T.O. was "ecstatic" about Roy Williams coming to Dallas. It should free him up from being double-teamed as much as he was.

The Cowboys gave up a lot, but I don't think too much. They had an extra 3rd-round pick and they will be giving Detroit their 6th-round pick, which they no longer have to give to Tennessee because of Pacman.

With an offense that has Romo, T.O., Williams, Witten, Barber, Felix will be nasty when all healthy. How 'bout dem Cowboys!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Injuries suffered this weekend

Aside from Tony Romo being out up to a month, the Cowboys have been decimated with injuries this weekend:

Mat McBriar: out 6-8 weeks with fractured right foot
Sam Hurd: out "for a while" and will have ankle surgery
Felix Jones: out 2-4 weeks with strained hamstring

Terence Newman was already out a month after sports hernia surgery.

When it rains, it pours...

Tony Romo out 4 weeks?

Not only did the Cowboys lose to the Cardinals in a heart-breaking loss yesterday, they lost Tony Romo, who broke his pinkie finger, for perhaps the next 4 weeks. If Romo misses 4 weeks, he would miss the following games:
  • at St. Louis
  • vs Tampa Bay
  • at NY Giants
The 4th week would be the Cowboys' bye week and they come back from the bye with a game in Washington.
"We don't know how long he'll be out. It depends on how fast that heals," coach Wade Phillips said Monday. "I'd say week to week, depending on quickly he heals. Different people heal differently."
Since Romo became starting QB on October 29, 2006, only 2 QBs (Tom Brady and Philip Rivers) have a higher winning percentage. Romo is 23-9 as a starter during that span.

Could Romo play through it? I heard Steve Young talk about how Drew Bledsoe played with a broken index finger that was splinted. But I also heard Trent Dilfer talk about how important the pinkie is in Romo's throwing motion saying that although he probably could play through it, he would lose accuracy and the ability to change speeds on the ball.

I saw a poll question on ESPN that asks if the Cowboys will make the playoffs with Romo out for 4 weeks and after 80047 votes, it's 51% "no." What an overreaction!

The Cowboys should (hopefully will) be really physical over the next few weeks and pound the ball with Marion Barber. With a massive OL and a punishing runner, the Cowboys should be wearing teams down by the 4th quarter. And while I'd prefer Romo to be healthy and the starter, re-establishing the running game may make Romo's loss not as devastating.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals - 10/12

Today, the Cowboys take on the Cardinals in Arizona. Here are the Cowboys keys to victory per Sporting News:
1. Pressure Kurt Warner. Warner can't move in the pocket. He's not even that adept at sliding right or left like Dan Marino used to do. That means he's a sitting duck for a good pass rush. Of course, Carson Palmer should've been a sitting duck last week but the Cowboys couldn't get to him until the last drive. DeMarcus Ware has a sack in eight consecutive games, but the Cowboys' pass rush has been inconsistent this year. Aside from Ware and Greg Ellis, Dallas doesn't have another consistent threat to sack the quarterback. Look for the Cardinals to use more three-step drops to keep Warner upright.

2. Get Terrell Owens involved. T.O. is emotionally fragile. You know that when you put him on your team, so it's up to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to figure out how to get him more involved with the offense so he doesn't spend the second half of every game crying on the sideline like he did Sunday. T.O. has been struggling against bump-and-run coverage. One way to counter that is to put him in motion or move him into the slot. Look for Dallas to do a lot more of that this week.

3. Protect the ball. Tony Romo says every good quarterback throws interceptions. That's true. They just don't throw them every game. Romo has a pick in eight consecutive games, including all five this season. He also has lost two fumbles. More important, the opposition has turned his seven turnovers into 29 points, which is nearly one touchdown per game. You can't consistently give the opposition a touchdown every week and expect to continue winning.

Game Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 38, Arizona Cardinals 27

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Terence Newman to have surgery?

Terence Newman is out for Sunday's game in Arizona and maybe much longer. Newman's been sent to a top sports hernia specialist for further tests.
"It's been hurting me for awhile, but I thought I could play through it," Newman said. "Last week it got worse, so we did some more tests. I just want to get right so I can get back on the field."

"Maybe what he needs is some extra time to be ready to go," Newman's agent Ben Dogra said. "But surgery would be a last resort."
Hopefully, the tests will reveal it's not as bad. But if he needs surgery, the sooner, the better. I would prefer that Newman misses time now, gets healthy and is full-strength during the post-season.

Adam Jones has altercation with bodyguard

Adam "Pacman" Jones, was at practice today after an altercation last night at the Joule Hotel. The Cowboys have said that Jones did not violate the stipulations of his contract and they will not take action. The question is whether or not the NFL will.
"I guess I would tell you I'm disappointed we're even discussing this at this point and time," Goodell said on ESPN Radio.
Adam Jones had the scuffle with one of his bodyguards, Tommy Jones. First, Adam Jones shouldn't be getting himself involved in any altercations anywhere at any time. Second, the altercation shouldn't be with his bodyguard.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Romo, T.O. names used in voter-fraud scheme

There is a group in Nevada that has been accused of fraudulently submitting voter-registration forms in the names of Tony Romo and Terrell Owens.
"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," said Secretary of State Ross Miller.
It reminds me of a pretty funny Mayne Event on ESPN's NFL Countdown. There was a guy going around pretending to be Ben Roethlisberger in public. In the Mayne Event, Drew Brees was joking about how he used to pretend that he was a pilot to meet girls before he became an NFL QB.

The perfect Xmas gift?

Got $500,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Then Neiman Marcus has the perfect Christmas gift for you.

A Texas Stadium endzone. Not only do you get the endzone, but you get "VIP treatment and a post-game party with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders."

The proceeds will go to the Salvation Army.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Brad Johnson loses bet with T.O.

Terrell Owens is from the state of Alabama. Brad Johnson's brother-in-law is Mark Richt, the Georgia Bulldogs head coach. So, T.O. and Johnson wagered on the outcome of the Alabama-Georgia game last week.

What did they wager? The loser had to dress like the winner at practice.
Alabama won, 41-30, forcing Johnson to wear white tights, something Owens wears during practice, and the jersey of the wide receiver's alma mater, Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Brad Johnson went on to compliment T.O. in the article:

"He's great to work with," Johnson said. "I've been with great receivers before from Keyshawn [Johnson] to Cris Carter, Irving Fryar, and the list goes on. T.O. is great to work with, an extremely hard worker who gets along with everybody in the locker room. He's fun to be with, and you appreciate when you play with guys like that."
Hopefully, the Cowboys put last week's loss and T.O.'s frustration behind them when they play the winless Bengals tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ocho Cinco: Jerry "just say no"

With T.O. complaining about only getting 20 looks, imagine how he would feel about Chad Johnson stealing touches from him. In Chad Johnson's conference call today, he talked about playing for the Cowboys.
"I tried," Ocho Cinco said during his epic conference call with the Valley Ranch media. "I talked to 81 almost every day, man. I love 81. We talk all the time. That would've been a circus.

"Let me tell you, I don't mean to be funny ... I'm not tried to be rude or piss anybody off, but if I was in Dallas, they would have to change all of our damn games to pay-per-view because you need to pay to see that [beep]. I'm serious. I'm so serious. They would have to put all the games on pay-per-view. Because you can't just watch a show like that for free; 81 and 85? Come on, now. Please."

"Tell Jerry Jones I said hello," he said as the conference call wrapped up, "and give me a call some time."
Jerry -- please don't do it. The Cowboys could use additional weapons at WR, but they more than enough talent to get by without this headache.

Monday, September 29, 2008

T.O.: Shut up and play

T.O. had me fooled. Last week, T.O. caught only 2 passes for 17 yards, ran down DBs after INTs and didn't complain. For the next 7 days, I thought he had turned the corner and was a different guy.

What a difference a week makes!

Yesterday T.O. was targeted nearly 20 times out of 58 offensive plays. But T.O.'s complaining about his (lack of) involvement in the offense.
"I’m a competitor and I want the ball," T.O. said.

“Everybody recognized that I wasn’t really getting the ball in the first half,” Owens said. “I’m pretty sure everybody watching the game recognized it, people in the stands recognized it. I think my team recognized it.”
Like Jean-Jacques Taylor says, "it takes incredible gall to moan and groan." The Cowboys didn't lose because T.O. only got 20 looks.

If anyone has a legitimate gripe (although he would never complain), it's Marion Barber. Inexplicably, he carried the ball 8 times and Felix Jones didn't get any carries.

Before it spirals out of control like it did with Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb, someone (probably Jerry) needs to shut this guy up. Because it's obvious he can't do it himself.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cowboys: 3-0 on way to 16-0?

In the Star-Telegram today, a headline reads "Can the Cowboys go undefeated in the regular season?" How did Jerry Jones respond to that question?
"I don’t see that," Jones said. "I really don’t see that. I thought it was almost impossible to make it through 16 games. I see the road is too rough. The East is too tough. ...I just don’t see that happening."
I agree with Jones and especially so about how tough the East is. So far, NFC East teams have a combined 2 losses through 3 weeks. The 'Skins lost to the Giants and the Eagles to the 'Boys. Still no losses to non-division opponents.

I believed the NFC East to be the toughest division in football to start the season, but it is looking like it will be even stronger from top to bottom than I previously thought. Games like tomorrow's division matchup mean so much.

The Cowboys are 11-point favorites over the Redskins this weekend. Does that scare anyone else like it does me? I expect the Cowboys to win (of course), but 11 points in this rivalry?

The out-of-division schedule isn't very tough. The Cowboys have the Steelers on the road and the Ravens, who look like they have their defensive groove back, in the last game ever at Texas Stadium. Other than that, they play teams like the Rams, Niners and Bengals.

It's way too soon to talk about a perfect (regular) season. The only time a perfect season matters is the one that starts in January. Just ask the Patriots.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers

The Cowboys and Packers played in 2007 in prime-time in Dallas. The Cowboys came away with a victory that enabled the 'Boys to win the tie-breaker for home-field advantage. Tonight's game could have the same significance.

I thought the Vikings would be the team to beat in the NFC North. Although we have only seen 2 weeks of games, when the Cowboys win the NFC East, I don't expect the NFC South/NFC West to hold their main competition for home-field advantage. It will be the NFC North and with Aaron Rodgers strong play, the Packers are as good in 2008 as they were in 2007. Perhaps, you could even argue they are better.

Here are the 3 keys to the game for the Cowboys from the Sporting News:
1. Stop committing penalties at such an alarming rate. The Cowboys had 10 penalties Monday night against the Eagles, giving them a two-game total of 21. You name it, they've committed the infraction. They had the talent to overcome those miscues in the first two games, but this week against a quality opponent, penalties will cost them.

2. Do a better job defensively on first down. This is especially important because the Packers can run the ball. Wade Phillips is at his best calling exotic blitzes on second- and third-and-long situations. If the Cowboys can win first downs playing the run strong and force the Packers to become one-dimensional, they can make Rodgers uncomfortable and force him into mistakes.

3. Take it easy, Tony. Quarterback Tony Romo has a lot of gunslinger in him, but the less he plays like his idol Brett Favre, the better. Sometimes, a no-gain or an incompletion is a good play. Every play can't be salvaged. Romo knows the difference most times, but he had an interception and a fumble against last week that helped the Eagles score 14 points in a 14-second span in the second quarter. It's hard to win that way.

Keys 1/3 are critical, not just for this week but for the season. This is the most talented team in the league. If they play with passion and focus, they are the best team in football and nobody will beat them. Let's hope they don't shoot themselves in the foot this week (or especially in January/February).

Here's my prediction for the game: Dallas 20, Green Bay 17

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cowboys 2-0; survive tough test against Eagles

Great game last night. The Cowboys looked good except for the back-to-back Romo turnovers.

Jason Witten separated his shoulder, but should be ready to go on Sunday at Green Bay.
It's impressive that Jason Witten caught six balls, including two critical big plays, after returning from a right shoulder injury last night. But it was his blocking that really proved that Witten's a bad dude.
Roy Williams suffered a fracture in his right forearm and will miss 3-4 weeks. Also, Wade Phillips defended Williams on the big play to DeSean Jackson.
"Let me say this, it wasn't Roy's responsibility to play that ball," said Phillips, who frequently mentions that Williams hasn't given up a deep TD since the arrival of this coaching regime.

Well, if Williams wasn't to blame, it doesn't take a triple-digit football IQ to figure out that Adam "Pacman" Jones was the guy Jackson toasted.
Here was the (bonehead) play by Jackson:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cowboys vs Eagles preview/prediction

Ted Sundquist, former Broncos' G.M. and current contributor to Pro Football Talk, listed his keys (for both teams) to tonight's match-up as follows:
  • KEY #1 for Philly will be slowing down the Dallas pressure on McNabb. If the Cowboys can pressure and or sack McNabb on early downs and force the Eagles to throw on third, it could open up some turnover opportunities for the talented Dallas secondary.
  • I’ll pin the success of the Eagles on their defensive front getting to Romo and helping out the secondary to blanket the Dallas receivers. Cole and Patterson are the two best run stuffers; look for Dallas to go to their right behind big OG Leonard Davis aligned over Bunkley.
  • ...the Philadelphia defense has an excellent history of shutting down opponents’ TE’s. This could be a big week for WR Patrick Crayton. The Eagle defense swarms the primary receiver, but struggled to shut down the second and third options last season.
  • KEY #4 will be how well Dallas ILB’s Zach Thomas and Bradie James can contain Brian Westbrook. The Eagles tied for second with thirty-three 10+ play drives in ’07...
  • KEY #5 for me is the punting of Matt McBriar (DAL) versus Sav Rocca (PHI). Look for the resulting field position battle to be a key factor in the final outcome.
Although I hate calling a week 2 matchup a huge game, the NFC East is going to be a dogfight by all early indications. After tonight's game, the only 2 losses by this division will be against division foes (Redskins against the Giants and yes, the Eagles against the Cowboys).

My prediction is Cowboys 27, Eagles 21.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tony Romo Helps Couple Change Tire

With the exception of fame, fortune and superstar girlfriends, Tony Romo is just like you and me. After Browns game, he helped a couple fix a flat tire.
Bill and Sharon White told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that at least 100 drivers ignored their broken-down Mercury before someone stopped late Sunday. Sharon White said a well-dressed man "with something strange on his chin" walked up and offered a hand.

"Don't tell me how you guys did," [Bill White] said he told Romo. "I'm going home to watch it."
This isn't a huge deal; just a nice guy doing a good thing. But the media likes to focus its attention on the negative things surrounding the Cowboys, I wanted to point it out. Everyone talks about the bad things T.O. does, but I'm never hear them talking about what T.O. did at the ESPYs.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Strahan says: " team in the league"

Back on August 1, Michael Strahan was at Dallas Cowboys training camp. And he must have liked what he saw. Even though he picked the Giants to win the NFC East (rookie mistake), he soon learned the errs of his ways and said...:
"I have to be realistic and I have to be objective here," Strahan said in justifying his pick. "The Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the league."
I'm not unrealistic. Going into week 1, I would have thought the Pats, Chargers and Colts all had as good or better of a chance to win the Super Bowl than Dallas. But after the Chargers and Colts lost at home and generally looked flat and the Pats won (unconvincingly) but lost the league's MVP. We'll see what happens with the Pats without Brady. Maybe the system works with or without him. But I doubt it.

The Browns are probably over-rated. But the Cowboys went on the road and faced a team with a talented offense and playoff expectations. And they made it look easy. Like Strahan, I have to be "realistic" and say the "Cowboys are the best team in the league."

How 'bout them Cowboys!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cowboys win, but suffer injuries

The Cowboys won 28-10 over the Cleveland Browns to kick off the season. The offense and defense looked solid. The Cowboys had 487 yards of total offense (320 passing / 167 rushing) to 205 total yards for Cleveland.
"We're ready," said Owens, who finished with five catches for 87 yards. "Training camp and all that stuff is over with. The season is here and this was a great start."

Afterward, owner Jerry Jones was all smiles: "I didn't expect to feel this good," he said. "I was worried to death. I thought we could lose this opener."
Some in the press were negative about how the Cowboys played in the pre-season. They easily answered all of the questions people may have had about them today.

However, Tony Romo and Marion Barber suffered injuries today. Tony Romo has a cut on his chin that will require stitches and Marion Barber did damage to cartilage in his rib.
A high-ranking Cowboys source told ESPN's Ed Werder that Barber damaged cartilage in his rib cage but X-rays indicated there were no fractures. While the team is uncertain of Barber's availability for next Monday night's home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the source said the Cowboys medical staff believes that Barber could be treated with painkilling injections and the injury protected with additional padding that would improve his chances of playing.
Romo should be fine, but I'm worried about the status of Barber. Felix Jones played well (62 yards on 9 carries), but he's ideally suited for a back-up role. And if Barber's playing with extra padding and in pain, will he run as aggressively as he normally does? Will he be more proned to fumble?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cowboys 2008 Schedule - Predictions

Less than 48 hours away from the Cowboys season opener, let's take a look at the schedule and make some predictions. Here is their 2008 regular-season schedule:

Sept. 7: at Cleveland Browns
Sept. 15 (MNF): Philadelphia Eagles
Sept. 21: at Green Bay Packers
Sept. 28: Washington Redskins
Oct. 5: Cincinnati Bengals
Oct. 12: at Arizona Cardinals
Oct. 19: at St. Louis Rams
Oct. 26: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nov. 2: at NY Giants
Nov. 9: Bye
Nov. 16: at Washington Redskins
Nov. 23: San Francisco 49ers
Nov. 27 (Thu): Seattle Seahawks
Dec. 7: at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec. 14: NY Giants
Dec. 20 (Sat): Baltimore Ravens
Dec. 28: at Philadelphia Eagles

The Cowboys' strength of schedule (based on opponents' 2007 records) is 134-122 (.523). Their strength of schedule is identical to Washington's and their opponents had only 1 more win than that of the Eagles and Giants' opponents. So, basically the difficulty of their schedule is the same as the difficulty in the other 3 NFC East teams' schedules.

Aside from divisional games, the opponents that made the playoffs in 2007 are very winnable games - at Green Bay, vs Tampa Bay, vs Seattle and vs Pittsburgh. I actually expect the Vikings to win the NFC North over GB, the Saints to win the NFC South over TB and the Cards to win the NFC West over SEA. Although I think the Steelers will win the AFC North, the Cowboys will have 10 days to prepare as the previous game is on Thanksgiving.

vs NFC East teams: 4-2 (anyone can win against anyone in the division but the Cowboys are clearly the best in the division so we'll give them 1 game above with Giants/Eagles going .500 and the 'Skins going 2-4 in the division)

vs 2007 playoff teams: 3-1 (they are better than all 4 teams and 3 of the 4 are in Big D. Can't see them going 2-2 in those games)

vs 2007 non-playoff teams: 5-1 (none of the opponents scare me although it's just the nature of the game to have an upset thrown in there)

Final Season Prediction: 12-4

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Joshua Cribbs to miss season opener vs Cowboys?

I saw a debate on ESPN's NFL Live about who's the bigger special teams weapon: Devin Hester or Joshua Cribbs. Regardless of your viewpoint, there's no arguing that both are explosive weapons that can change a game quickly.

Joshua Cribbs has indicated that he's likely to miss their season opener against Dallas.
"My competitive side, I want to be out there with my team," said Cribbs, who suffered the sprain in an exhibition game against the New York Giants on Aug. 18. "It was so hard in preseason watching my team play. But where they're coming from is we've got 15 games after this. It doesn't matter what I think at this point. It's not up to me. They're going to make an assessment as the week progresses and do what's best for me and the program."
I agree with Cribbs. He should wait until he is 100% or week 2, whichever comes later.

Stanback returns to practice, will play in Cleveland

After Austin, Hurd and Stanback got hurt and the Cowboys only kept five WRs on the active roster, it looked like the Cowboys would use only two active WRs: T.O. and Crayton. However, the number has grown to three.
Second-year receiver Isaiah Stanback returned to practice after sustaining a dislocated left shoulder Aug. 22 against the Houston Texans. Stanback was wearing a harness for support at practice, which he did last year after he separated the same shoulder.

"It looks good that he’ll play and be able to play as the third receiver for us as long as no hitches come the rest of the week," coach Wade Phillips said. "But I thought he looked good in practice."
I still think the number should grow to four with the Cowboys activating either Amendola or Jefferson from the practice squad.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Amendola and Jefferson signed to practice squad

The Cowboys have added WRs Danny Amendola and Mike Jefferson to their practice squad. They are also interested in re-acquiring Jamaica Rector, who was released by the Cardinals.

Although Sam Hurd and Miles Austin are definitely out vs Cleveland, Isaiah Stanback is going to practice with a harness this week and might give it a go Sunday.
Agents representing veterans Freddie Mitchell and Joe Horn have also contacted the Cowboys, but the team has shown no interest.
I wouldn't mind if the Cowboys added Horn, but the Freddie Mitchell, "the people's champ"? C'mon. Will we ever be that desperate?

Here are the rest of the players signed to the practice squad:

RB Alonzo Coleman
FB Julius Crosslin
DE Marcus Dixon
LB Tearrius George
TE Rodney Hannah

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cowboys roster cuts

Here's a full list of players waived by the Cowboys to make the 53-man roster limit:

Danny Amendola
Drew Atchison
Remi Ayodele
Richard Bartel
Mark Bradford
Alonzo Coleman
Julius Crosslin
Dowayne Davis
Marcus Dixon
Tearrius George
Ryan Gibbons
Rodney Hannah
Mike Jefferson
Keon Lattimore
Cory Lekkerkerker (injury settlement)
Todd Lowber
Darrell Robertson
Junior Siavii
Marcus Smith
Tyson Smith
Erik Walden

Surprised the Cowboys kept only 5 WRs, especially when 3 of them are probably going to miss the Browns game.

What's wrong with ESPN?

ESPN just released a list of the "best fans" of NFL teams. It's an article where the teams are divided 1-10 on page 1, 11-22 on page 2 and 23-32 on page 3. I didn't expect the Cowboys to be listed as #1 or #2 (despite my biased opinion that we Cowboys fans are the best), but I scrolled down the 1-10 page to see where we ranked.

I went past the Eagles (#4), the Redskins (#6) and even the Giants (#10) without seeing the Cowboys. Surely, I just scrolled too fast and missed it. Nope. The ESPNers ranked the Cowboys fans as the 12th best in the NFL and the "worst" of the NFC East team fans.

In the article, there was a link to the most NFL team selections in fan profiles. Who came in 1st? The Steelers, right? After all, they have the "best fans" according to ESPN. If it's not the Steelers, it must be the Packers. They have the 2nd-best fans. Nope. How about the Eagles? After all, they have the "best" fans in the NFC East. Not even close. With 20,860, it was the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots were second with 16,000+ and then no other team had 13,000 or more.

I guess Bears fans could have as much of a gripe as Cowboys fans. Da Bears were ranked 13th. That surprises me. Bears fans are a passionate bunch. But, as usual, the rest of the world has us all wrong. I guess I'll settle with the Vince Lombardi trophy making its way back to Big D and the Steelers can be the "best fans."

Fox Sports - Top 10 Ticking Time Bombs

Fox Sports ranked their Top 10 Ticking Time Bombs and guess who ranked #1 on their list? Surprise, surprise - it's the Dallas Cowboys.
The only thing that scares me about the Cowboys this year: the Cowboys themselves. There is drama, a soap opera atmosphere, at every turn. My guy Tony Romo appears in US Weekly more than Sports Illustrated. While it is idiotic that his focus is ever questioned (he is one of the most diligent workers in the league), Romo has to deal with ridiculous questions about Jessica Simpson when he plays poorly.

Terrell Owens is a great player. He can also bring negative attention to the Cowboys with one wrong answer or press conference.

Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson are both an off-the-field issue away from never playing again.

Is this a back-handed compliment? In other words, the Cowboys are too talented that there only real problem is they might get in their own way?

In today's NFL, what team isn't dealing with issues? T.O. has been a leader in the post-Parcells era and he has a great relationship (tears and all) with "his QB." The Patriots have Randy Moss, who has had his own share of problems (worse than T.O.'s), the Broncos have Brandon Marshall (but the real T.O. isn't getting suspended by the NFL) and the Bengals have Chad Johnson (or now legally Chad Javon Ocho Cinco).

Adam Jones and Tank Johnson may be off-the-field risks, but everyday if you go to the NFL section of ESPN, SI, etc., you'll see things like today's ESPN headlines: Ricardo Colclough of Carolina arrested for DWI and Bryant McKinnie suspended for 4 games for his involvement in a fight. I think the support system is well-established in Big D to keep Jones and Johnson out of trouble. The NFL has league-wide "personal conduct" issues, but the perception that the Cowboys (with the possible exception of the Bengals) have the biggest share of them is absurd.

Another injury at WR for Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have had no success in keeping their WRs healthy in pre-season. First, Miles Austin got hurt and will miss 4-6 weeks. Then, Isaiah Stanback hurt his shoulder. Stanback hasn't ruled out playing in the opener at Cleveland. Now, the latest is the high ankle sprain to the Cowboys #3, Sam Hurd.

Jerry Jones has ruled out adding someone like Joe Horn and Wade Phillips has mentioned possibly using only 2 WRs versus Cleveland (T.O./Crayton) with Jason Witten getting action as the 3rd.
"We'll see where we are medically, and we still have two pretty good receivers, you know, that I think can give anybody problems," Phillips said. "[Jason] Witten can be a third receiver. Obviously, he's a force as a pass receiver."
What about other WRs like Danny Amendola and Mike Jefferson? Phillips was neutral about how they increased their chances after Thursday's game against the Vikings.

"I don't think either one of them made a jump," he said. "But I don't think either one of them went backwards."
Hopefully, Stanback will be ready to go week 1, but T.O. and Crayton should be walking around in armored suits right now...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Last night vs Texans

Early in the game, there was a scare with Harry Williams. Although he fractured a vertebra and will have spinal surgery, the good news is it looks like he's going to make a full recovery.
"He's got movement throughout his body," Kubiak said. "All the feedback I'm getting is that Harry will be fine."
The Cowboys looked good in their third pre-season game, which is the most important week of the pre-season. There were a few exceptions like Tony Romo's interception, but the Cowboys offense had 266 yards at halftime. Romo finished 15-19 with 166 yards and The Barbarian had 75 yards on 13 carries.
"I feel good about where we are," Phillips said. "It was one of those games that you needed to turn it on. I think everybody felt that, even the novices that don't know as much as coaches do. ... And I think we did."

"I thought we were efficient. It was nice to play more than a series or two," Romo said. "It's exciting to come out in the first half and move the ball like we did."
Only 15 days to go until Dallas vs Cleveland...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jenkins impressing, Newman leading

When Terrence Newman is healthy and Pacman Jones less rusty, the Cowboys arguably have the best secondary in football. Even though Newman is injured, he's being a leader.
"He's been a lot of help to me, ever since he went down," Jenkins said. "He's definitely on my back all the time. ... It's starting to get annoying. He's in my ear more than (secondary coach Dave) Campo, more than the coach."

Jenkins was smiling when he said that, appreciative of the help he is getting from the Pro Bowler -- the regular starting left cornerback whose spot he has been filling since Newman got hurt three weeks ago.

"That shows a lot of class, a lot of guys wouldn't do that," Jenkins said. "The day he went down, he came back to practice from doing treatment and he has stayed on me ever since then."
It's great to see that Newman is helping out Jenkins. Everyone can say all they want about the "collection of Pro Bowlers", but they don't give the Cowboys enough credit for being a "team".

Anthony Spencer out 2-4 weeks

It's been an injury-plagued pre-season for the Cowboys - Terrence Newman, Miles Austin and now Anthony Spencer.

Spencer had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday and he will be out 2-4 weeks.

Spencer was hurt in the preseason opener at San Diego with what initially was diagnosed as a bone bruise. He missed last week's game at Denver because of swelling in the knee. Spencer said he wanted to practice but the swelling in his knee would subside one day then come back.

The Cowboys took another look at the knee, and they decided surgery was necessary.

I still expect 2008 to be a breakout year for Spencer. Hopefully, he'll miss closer to 2 weeks instead of 4 weeks.

Owens questions Cowboys strategy vs New York

Terrell Owens has questioned the Cowboys strategy in the game vs New York.
Many have wondered how the Dallas Cowboys would have fared against the New York Giants in the playoffs last year if Cowboys Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens had been healthy. Owens admits having similar thoughts.

Owens missed the final game of the season with a high ankle sprain but returned to the field in the Cowboys’ 21-17 divisional loss to the Giants two weeks later.

He second-guesses the Cowboys' strategy more so than his health. He caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown in the game, all in the first half. But he said he could have done more, especially in the second half when he was held without a catch.

"I feel I made the most of the opportunities," Owens said. "It was just like when I played in the Super Bowl with the [Philadelphia] Eagles, I told the coach if I am on the football field to treat me as if I am 100 percent. I don’t think they [were] considering what I did in the game. ... I felt like I could have done more."
I don't think this is a concern, T.O. has been a "model citizen" in Big D. But there is going to be a lot of pressure on the Cowboys this post-season. And plenty of chaos if there is another first-round playoff loss (which I don't expect).

T.O. is right though. Looking at how he performed in the Super Bowl while hurt, when it's do-or-die time, the Cowboys should put the ball in T.O.'s hands as often as possible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Can Marion Barber carry the load?

ESPN Fantasy has a feature (32 questions) where they are asking - and answering - a question per team. Their Cowboys question: Can Marion Barber carry the load?

For those of you who like Cliff Notes, here's my Cliff Notes version of James Quintong's answer: "Yes."

As Quintong argues the Barbarian's "...approach to the game might be his biggest hurdle." I agree but who doesn't appreciate an offensive skill player that dishes more punishment than he receives.

Imagine if Tyson Smith weren't his teammate...
Barber has the toughness and versatility to do whatever the Cowboys want from him out of the backfield, and he's ready to carry a bigger load this year, which explains his high draft position so far. The Cowboys can keep him fresh with Felix Jones picking up some of the slack, but you might expect to see more of that later in the season, as Felix Jones figures out his role in the offense. Early in the season, though, look for a lot more Barber, who can produce big numbers seemingly no matter how many touches he gets. He's a safer bet than you might think.
I couldn't have said it any better James...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Miles Austin out for 4-6 weeks?

Miles Austin's stellar training camp and preseason has come to an end because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee suffered Saturday, and it's unlikely he will be able to play in the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at Cleveland.

Generally speaking, MCL tears (anytime you hear a sprain that means something is torn, by the way) take 4-6 weeks to heal depending on the severity.

As for the final 53-man roster, it almost has to mean the Cowboys keep six wide receivers if Austin is out. I was thinking the Cowboys would go with five receivers - Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Hurd, Austin and probably Stanback - before the injury. Now it's six, which takes away a spot from somewhere else - maybe tailback, maybe a No. 3 quarterback, maybe an O-lineman.

If Austin is out for 4 weeks, I don't think the Cowboys should keep 6 receivers. The week 2 game is Monday Night Football so there is one extra day to recover for 4 weeks. If Austin can play in week 2, it wouldn't make much sense to tinker with the roster the way Todd Archer thinks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

T.O. vs "Baby T.O." as how Adam Jones sees it

The Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos had a joint practice today and Adam Jones was asked how Brandon Marshall compares to Terrell Owens. This was his response:
"He's nowhere near T.O.," Jones said of Marshall. "He's a good athlete, but he ain't on T.O.'s level. T.O. is 10 times faster and 10 times bigger. I wouldn't say he's nowhere near T.O."

Marshall's nickname coming out of college was "Baby T.O." because both receivers are similar in size and both have huge playmaking ability on the field. Marshall is easily the biggest offensive threat the Broncos have on the roster, but Jones didn't shy away from taking a shot at the young receiver.
I agree that T.O. is better than Marshall and I like that Jones sticking by his teammate. However, Jones' math is a little off. In other words, if T.O. runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, Marshall doesn't run a 45-second (10 x's as slow) 40.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adam Jones - A little rusty

Although Adam Jones looked rusty in the Cowboys pre-season opener in San Diego, I am not worried.

Jones made his Cowboys debut in the dime package on the second defensive series, then replaced Anthony Henry at right corner with the second unit. Early in the second quarter, he gave up a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Chambers and missed a tackle on Darren Sproles' ensuing 21-yard screen catch. Both plays led to a touchdown.

"I need to work on my angles," Jones said. "With that Sproles play, that's kind of a hard play because there's so much in the open with that screen I was trying to make him cut back in."

His competitiveness and eagerness to take on T.O. every day in practice will get him back to the Adam Jones he once was. On the field, that is.
Jones has challenged Owens one-on-one throughout the first two weeks of camp, and while the veteran Pro Bowler has gotten the best of him at times, the coaching staff says Jones' competitiveness has spread to the rest of the defense.
Provided he stays out of trouble (big if) and Roger Goodell reinstates Jones for the regular season (smaller if), Adam Jones will likely be the Cowboys 2nd best CB by the end of the year. Not bad for a 4th-round draft pick.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prominent role for Felix Jones in passing game

The Cowboys expect Felix Jones to be a big part of the passing game in 2008. With arguably one of the top 2 WRs in Terrell Owens and top 2 TEs in Jason Witten, maybe the Cowboys don't need another big-time receiver opposite TO. Maybe a pass-catching RB is the answer.
A big part of the Cowboys' plans for Jones involve him catching the ball out of the backfield or even as a receiver. With the team lacking another top-flight wideout to take the pressure off Terrell Owens, the Cowboys want to compensate by making their backs regular participants in the passing game.

“You can get some real explosion in that area,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Felix Jones caught only 39 passes in three seasons at Arkansas, but he says he's eager to get the ball in his hands any way he can, even if it means being split wide as a receiver.

“When I was younger, I thought I was a receiver,” Jones said. “I'm very comfortable with it. I lined up in the slot position at Arkansas.”

“He gives us a dimension we haven't had,” Phillips said of Jones. “He catches the ball better than I thought he would.”

“What you're looking for is the guy to get the extra yards,” Romo said. “When you throw it 3 or 4 yards, he's going to give you 10, 12 yards. If you get guys like that, that makes life a lot easier on the quarterback.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

Detroit's WR Williams to come home to Texas?

In the off-season, there were rumors about the Cowboys acquiring Roy Williams, WR in Detroit. In an interview with the Detroit News, he was asked about his future since he's in the last year of his five-year contract.
"It's not a distraction but it kind of gets to me, like, what's gonna happen?" Williams said. "It's just a business, man. I heard there were offers for me so it must mean I'm pretty good. I don't know the future. I don't know if I'm gonna be here or not. They can franchise me (keep him for a lucrative one-year contract) and I'd be here for another year and then it'd start all over again."

When I asked if he wants to stay, Williams repeated what he said before, semi-convincingly.

"Oh, yeah, anybody wants to stay where they got drafted," he said. "And then when they get to the end of their career, they want to go home. I talk strongly about Texas because I'm from there but I don't talk strongly about the Cowboys or the Texans. I would love to stay here, get to the playoffs here, be part of history here."
Stay in Detroit and "get to the playoffs"? C'mon Roy. The Lions? The playoffs? Good one.

If Williams were to return to Texas, Houston would probably make more sense for Williams, because Andre Johnson is their only true weapon and the Texans should be willing to pursue him more aggressively. And although the Cowboys don't need him, can you imagine Williams lining up on the opposite side of TO? And Crayton in the slot with Witten, Barber, Felix Jones, etc.?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Got HBO?

Starting this Wednesday, HBO will begin airing the five-episode series of Hard Knocks featuring the Dallas Cowboys training camp. Here's a look at part of the process:
There are four cameras rolling at every practice, and after practice, they follow players everywhere around the River Ridge facility, from meeting rooms to training rooms. There are even four rooms - owner and general manager Jerry Jones' office, his son and right hand man, Stephen Jones' office and two meeting rooms for players and coaches - equipped with robotic cameras to capture every activity going on inside.

Capturing everything is impossible, so the producers and directors at NFL Films map out potential storylines to pursue. At every practice, and even before and after, every camera crew has an assignment for what or who to shoot. These assignments usually coincide with the six Cowboys - players and coaches - who are mic-ed up at every practice with wireless microphones.

Even once that "extraordinary material" is identified, Rodgers must make more tough decisions about what makes the show. As of this past Wednesday, he said he has 40 solid storylines in the works, but at most only half will actually make the final cut. Those storylines are allowed to develop until a few days before each episode airs, although if something important happens a day before each episode premieres, Rodgers will bend over backwards to adjust.

"The process, technically, to get this out the door and to HBO is absolutely frightening," Rodgers said. "We actually drive our final tape, when it's done, to HBO, and it gets to HBO in New York about an hour before it airs."
Interesting look at how Hard Knocks is created. Wouldn't it be nice if America's Team were the team featured every year?

Friday, August 1, 2008

You Tube Video from 7/31 Practice

Practice? We talkin' 'bout practice? Can't wait for the games to begin...

Michael Strahan in camp...Cowboys camp?

Michael Strahan was at camp with the Cowboys. He was watching the 'Boys in his new role with Fox's NFL pregame show.
"It makes me sick looking at him. At least he didn't wear his Super Bowl ring out here," tight end Jason Witten said, half-jokingly. "I told him I didn't know if I'd let him in here. He's still got buddies over there."
Whether joking or serious, I agree with what Witten says. You can never be too careful. Perhaps he'll leave with stuff to tell Osi and Tuck. How many times do people say, "I promised not to tell anyone so you can't tell anyone else?"

I guess to keep it fair, Fox should send Troy Aikman or Jimmy Johnson to Giants camp.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

DeMarcus Ware - held out as pre-caution

Today, DeMarcus Ware was held out of practice. Wade Phillips says:
"They've got a procedure that you go through when a guy gets dinged a little bit and so we held him out of practice," Phillips said. 'We don't see any long-term problems there."
Ware should have a monster year in 2008. I expect Anthony Spencer to have a breakout season for the 'Boys, which should benefit Ware big time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Terrence Newman's injury

On Monday, Terrence Newman left practice after he hurt his groin. Yesterday, the MRI revealed that he had a tear in the groin. Although Newman is expected to be out for 3 weeks, which means he would be ready in time for the season, it worries me that the injury was more severe than initially thought.

I (and almost everybody else) expect Adam Jones to be reinstated by Roger Goodell. But, if that doesn't happen and Newman's injury is more severe than thought now, that leaves the 'Boys with Henry and Jenkins as starting CBs to go along with Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin in the secondary.

That would make a unit that is arguably the team's strongest much weaker. So hopefully three weeks will pass and Terrence Newman will be fully recovered.

Terry Glenn to Miami?

It would make sense for Terry Glenn to head to Miami and re-join Bill Parcells for a third time. Although Glenn says he has interest in Miami, he says it's not a "done deal" yet and that he is talking to "several" teams.

When he was cut, it wasn't ruled out that Glenn would be brought back. Whether it's a "done deal" with Miami or not, it now looks like there is virtually no chance Glenn will be back in Dallas.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Cowboys Draft Pick to Sign

Orlando Scandrick, 5th-round DB from Boise State, signed with the Cowboys today. It's a 4-year deal worth $1.85 million.

The remaining unsigned draft picks are:

Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M
Tashard Choice, RB, Georgia Tech
Erik Walden, DE, Middle Tennessee

With camp starting Friday, we should expect to see the others signing soon.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How hot is Phillips' hot seat?

In his first season as head coach of the Cowboys, Wade Phillips did what nobody in franchise history has done better. He won 13 games.

However, a first-round exit (again) when the team had Super Bowl expectations means the season was...let's face it...a disappointment. Look at the Patriots - 16 regular-season wins with a Super Bowl loss. How many Pats fans do you know that are happy with 2007? (Of course, are Pats fans ever happy?)

Mike Florio, in his Sporting News column, ranked the Top 10 coaches on the "Hot Seat". I agree with the majority of coaches on the list including Phillips. However, I disagree with the fact that he ranked Phillips #1. (There are a few coaches I would rank higher than Phillips, but my #1 would be Marvin Lewis with Cincinnati.)

In 2008, the regular season does not really matter (provided the Cowboys make the playoffs) for Phillips. The franchise needs to win (at a minimum) one playoff game otherwise I think Phillips' heir apparent Jason Garrett takes over. It would make sense - new stadium, new coach, new era.

Call me optimistic, but I can't help but believe that this team is too talented to win a post-season game or 2. Like Newy Scruggs of the Star-Telegram wrote, "On the flip side, Phillips can look in his own division for inspiration. The Giants meekly gave coach Tom Coughlin a one-year extension before last season. Coughlin went from the hot seat to a Super Bowl victory and cashed in with a new deal for $21 million over four years."