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."