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Black Friday Thankfulness – Dallas Cowboys Edition

I know that it is Black Friday and Americans are pushing and shoving trying to buy the latest toy for their three-year-old toddler who won’t remember the toy in two years. I’m going to skip that  mess. I would like to talk about why I am thankful that the Cowboys have proven I don’t need to hope for the playoffs, that this season is over.

Dejected Tony Romo

I am extremely thankful that I only watched the first half of this football game. Actually, the first two series tell the story. The fact that the Cowboys once again made a furious comeback that came up short is immaterial. The Dallas Cowboys defense stopped the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin, III on the first possession. As a matter fact, they went backwards. After a punt and an obligatory penalty (both teams are ridiculously penalized because they are bad), the Dallas Cowboys started at the Washington 35-yard line. The Cowboys moved the ball to the Washington seven-yard line. They had third and six at the Washington Redskins’ 12-yard line. Jason Witten, our all-Pro tight end, was called for a false start. The drive stalled. We kicked a field goal. The Dallas Cowboys started the drive on the 35-yard line. The Redskins give up almost 26 points each game. Their defense allows an average of 390 yards per game, yet the Cowboys could not find a way into the end zone. Kicking a field goal was simply awful.

The Washington Redskins had eight plays, but then had to kick the ball again as the drive stalled. The Dallas Cowboys got the football on their own 13-yard line. They put together three plays, which yielded a first down. They get six yards on, in and around to Dez Bryant. Then, because the Cowboys hate momentum early in the game, they decided to give the Washington Redskins the gift of momentum. As a matter of fact, the next sequence of penalties really exemplifies the Dallas Cowboys season. It started with a false start on Doug Free, who is our penalty-prone tackle and who has struggled mightily this year. Next came a penalty that I simply cannot understand or explain. After a penalty, the play clock restarted and somehow the Cowboys could not get… The whistle blew – delay of game. Completely inexcusable. So, instead of having a second down and four, the Cowboys had a second down and 14. Two plays later, they were punting the ball to the Washington Redskins. On the Redskins’ next possession they began to run the ball and after several plays Robert Griffin, III, displayed a beautiful play action pass and hit Aldrick Robinson for a 68-yard touchdown pass. For all practical purposes, the game was over.

I’m sure that the Dallas Cowboys have plenty of excuses for their mediocre performance. They can point to the fact that their former All-Pro receiver Miles Austin has been chronically injured, again. They can also point to the fact that the defense simply isn’t the same without Jay Ratliff in the middle. They could also mention that they simply cannot run the ball without DeMarco Murray. Without a running game, Tony Romo has to force the ball and that’s a recipe for multiple interceptions. Every team has injuries. The New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers – all of them had injuries to key players, yet somehow they managed to play competitive football. Even without the injuries, the Cowboys were looking mediocre at best. It is time for Jerry Jones to begin the plan for next season. It is my opinion, that the Dallas Cowboys will not, unfortunately, be competitive until Jerry Jones recognizes that he cannot win without Jimmy Johnson. It is that simple.

Don’t let the Philadelphia Eagle game fool you, the Dallas Cowboys still have plenty of issues

The Dallas Cowboys traveled to Philadelphia yesterday. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys are licking their wounds. Neither team was playing well. Both teams had huge problems on their offensive lines. Both Tony Romo and Michael Vick have been turning the ball over so frequently you have to wonder if there are bonus incentives in the contract to do just that. In my mind, the question wasn’t who was going to win this game. The question was who wasn’t going to lose.

Going into this game, I was highly critical of the Dallas Cowboys special teams. They’ve been especially awful. On Sunday, they turned in a mixed performance. DeWayne Harris ran back a punt. The special teams made a positive play, a welcome surprise. Brad Sham, long-time voice of the Cowboys, said that the Cowboys were first in the league at covering punts. Okay. That’s probably exactly right. Sham is rarely wrong, but we continually have kick returners fumbling the ball. On Sunday, it was no exception. Right after the defense gave up a cheap touchdown to Jeremy Macklin, Dunbar fumbled the subsequent kickoff. The Cowboys were lucky and were able to recover it. We simply can’t have that. Our punter shanked not one, but two punts. That’s not winning football.

Our number one draft choice, Morris Claiborne, was singed last week by Roddy White and Julio Jones. One would figure that he would try to make up for last week’s performance by playing a solid game this week. You would be wrong. Claiborne committed six penalties! Offsides and defensive holding were his specialties. Offsides? Seriously? I don’t get it. Continue reading Don’t let the Philadelphia Eagle game fool you, the Dallas Cowboys still have plenty of issues

NFL week one: Hits and Misses

I’m not sure that I had many expectations for week one. The NFL suffered a strike with the subsequent lockout. Both sides looked like they had dug in for the long haul. Suddenly, somebody came to their senses and an agreement was made and there was a shortened training camp season. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting much. Pre-season looked like bad college football at times. I was pleasantly surprised that week one was much better than I thought it would be. So, here are my thoughts at the end of week one.

Hits
In my opinion, the NFL was the big winner. The quality of football was very good. There were too many kickoffs, run back and punts returned for touchdowns. Still, there was plenty of excitement.

New England Patriots – I thought there were as many questions surrounding this team as any other in the NFL. They made multiple adjustments. They brought in new talent, including Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, both of whom are excellent football players with checkered pasts. The Patriots came out and simply dominated a vastly inferior Miami Dolphins team. It is clear to me that Tom Brady and the Patriots sent a message to the NFL that they plan on winning the Super Bowl – this season.

Baltimore Ravens – To me, the Baltimore Ravens have seemed just a little too old the last couple seasons. They seem to start off the season very well and they seem to peter out toward the end. On Sunday they faced their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers like I haven’t seen in five to eight years. The feared rushing attack of the Steelers ran or tumbled for less than 70 yards. At the same time the Baltimore Ravens were able to run over the Pittsburgh Steelers for more than 170 yards on the ground. The Baltimore Ravens made a statement.

Chicago Bears – I wasn’t sure what to think of the Chicago Bears this year. I’m not sure that I have bought into Jay Cutler. It is clear that he has the tools to be a great NFL quarterback. It just appears that sometimes his mind is not in the game. On Sunday, Jay Cutler, the offense of the Chicago Bears and the rest of the team simply manhandled the Atlanta Falcons. The game wasn’t even as close as a 30-12 score would indicate. The defense of the Monsters of the Midway was the story. They crushed the offensive line of the Falcons. Matt Ryan was running and ducking and being tackled most of the day. Even the greatest quarterbacks need time to throw. He had none. I don’t think that the Bears could have drawn up the script any better.

Misses
What is with the new kickoff rule? If they don’t want high-intensity collisions then eliminate the kickoff altogether. Everybody gets the ball on the 20- or the 30-yard line. This exercise where the ball is routinely kicked out of the back of the end zone is a waste of time.

Dallas Cowboys – At the end of last season, the Dallas Cowboys had a laundry list of things that needed to be corrected. Their special teams were suspect. Their defense was porous, to say the least. Teams routinely decided that it was much easier to throw against Dallas then to run against them. Last year, Vince Young looked like a potential Hall of Famer riddling the Dallas Cowboys defense. So, one would figure that Jerry Jones and company would fix the problems in the defense. The secondary looked exactly the same as last year. Sure, Terence Newman was hurt. Michael Jenkins got hurt. Orlando Scandrick was also missing in action. Where is the new talent? Oh, yeah, Jerry Jones drafted Josh Thomas in the fifth round and he didn’t make the team? Did Jerry Jones believe that new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could make chicken soup out of (oh, I shouldn’t go there). Yet it wasn’t the ineptitude of the Dallas defense that killed the Cowboys on Sunday night. I don’t understand how you get a punt blocked at a critical time in the game. This is the NFL, where certain things that simply cannot happen if you want to be thought of as an elite, playoff team. Don’t get me started on the failures of Tony Romo. How do you spend a week preparing for a team and with a game on the line, roll out and throw into clear double coverage? If you’re a Dallas fan, it was infuriating.

Donovan McNabb – How do you end a game 7 for 15 for a total of 39 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the whole game?

Indianapolis Colts – How do you put all of your marbles in one basket? I know that Peyton Manning is going to go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He should go down as one of the most durable quarterbacks of all time, sure, but how do you not have a viable backup? This isn’t badminton. It is football. Players get hurt all of the time. How do you call somebody off of their Barcalounger to play quarterback for you? The problem in Indianapolis is they’ve developed an offensive system that is tailor-made for Peyton Manning. Nobody else can run that system. Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers or Drew Brees can’t run that system. It isn’t just the offense that is tailor-made for Peyton Manning. It is the whole team. Their defense is built to slow down opposing offenses (that’s all that they needed because Peyton would deliver 30 points), not crush them in their wake.  So now that Peyton Manning has had his third neck operation in 19 months, what do the Indianapolis Colts do? If they are honest, they will refund the money of all their season-ticket holders.