You’d think 2-1 would be good

And I’ll be honest I believe a win is a win and 2-1 is better already than 1-6 from last year.  The Jets game was a great game, lost for the wrong reasons, and now we have 2 games all but lost, but won for the right reasons.  Nice work Cowboys.  But holy smoke I never thought I’d be unhappy with the cowboys for a 2-1 start, but let’s get real.  What the hell is wrong with the wide receiver core and the coaching staff?  Players don’t know where to line up?  Don’t know the plays and routes?  WTF Cowboys I thought we fixed that with coaching changes.  Costas snapping the ball like a spastic pee-wee player instead of a pro center?  Again WTF?  I’m happy for the win, and happy Romo pulled up and drove the team to victory, and the defense came up big for the Redskins game.  But there are major things to fix and the Lions are not going to let things just slide.

Dez, you commented that Romo inspired you to play after he returned from his injury and continues to do so.  Admirable, but seriously, you’re a pro-football player.  You are payed to PLAY.  I get injuries are a thing to watch, and manage, but a bruised leg vs a broken rib?  You sat out a game and only came back becasue you were inspired by Romo’s toughness?  Get real, get in the game and show the value you have by catching balls he throws.  Run routes fast and get open quickly to help Romo not get hit.  That’s how you help and how you support your team.

Costas, hey man, I know the Redskins were calling out snap counts and all, but really? That NEVER happened to you in the past?  Get it together.  The fact those snaps were recovered by the “right” team was as much luck as skill.

 

I’ll update this later but for now that’s what’s on my mind about the Cowboys.

So was Sunday night good or bad?

So the Cowboys were underdogs, not expected to play well against the Jets.  Not that I thought that, but some folks were pretty certain the Jets were going to run / pass all over the Dallas team, breaking apart the inexperienced offensive line, etc etc.  But that didn’t really happen, at least not completely.  What did happen?

  1. The offensive performed.  Some errors for sure, but overall they played like a solid line that needs some time to work out the kinks, not like a line of inexperienced players.  Kudos to them for the performance.
  2. Dez, great starting series, but if you work so hard you can’t last the game it isn’t a real help.  Coach Garret, if he’s not performing, take him out.  Period.  That pick was part Romo and part Dez failures and I’m sure you all know and feel that.
  3. The offense did great spreading out and working the Jets’ defense, but we lost it when Plax got hot.  Depth in CB and Safety might be issues unless we can see those positions stable for an entire game (or two).
  4. Mistakes by key players.  Romo and the goal line fumble, Witten with the interference call, Bryant running out of gas and not fighting for the ball on that INT were all avoidable and preventable errors.

Now with all of that said, the ‘Boys had a great game overall, though it closed badly, they showed they can not only play with, but beat top tier teams in all areas of the game.  Their down fall was mistakes and things that can be corrected.  They were not expected to win, and didn’t, but I suspect most people thought they’d lose by more.  I believed they were going to win from the outset, and was excited by the game and let down by the collapse.  But overall this was a good outting and a good game for the Boys.

It’s only week one and despite the loss, the signs are better this year than last.

Did someone say football?

Ok, I’m excited about the new season of football.  First because there will be one, second because it’s a new beginning for the Dallas Cowboys, who held promise last year (then they played and lost that promise).  I see good things in them again (some still good, others changed for the better) but they have work to do on the offensive line and defensive secondary.  Not great places to need work, but you take what you’re dealt and find a way to win.  That’s football.  I was also excited because this year we were finally going to swap over to satellite to get the NFL Package which would allow me to actually see the ‘Boys play much more often.  That plan was crushed by the line of sight requirement and some very tall trees in the back.  Something about “protected natural growth…”  🙂  Anyway, we still get the usual coverage, and I’m excited to see things progress.

I know it’s just pre-season, but the things that have excited me so far:

  • The Cowboy won.  I love that no matter when it happens, and winning a close game, even in pre-season means they have that desire.  Check.
  • The Eagles got /pwned by Pittsburgh.  So much for Dream Team, blah blah blah.  Shut up and play, if you win great, but no one gets the trophy for good players or free agegnt moves.  /cheer Pittsburgh.

I’ll post more football as the season progresses, but I just wanted to pop in and let you know I’m back posting about football again.

Coaching changes in Dallas and talk about the Playoffs

Well I can’t resist talking about the playoffs, but before I do, I wanted to provide a few thoughts on the coaching shifts that are happening in the Cowboys camp.

In a less-than-surprising move, Jerry Jones picked Jason Garrett as the new head coach for the Cowboys.  That move was well understood and predicted, even with the Rooney Rule and some high profile coaches possibly in the mix.  Then we find out that Paul Pasqualoni (Defensive Coordinator) is leaving to coach UConn and Ray Sherman (WR Coach) is leaving as well.  So while I can’t give Garrett a free pass given he was Offensive Coordinator during the “free fall” part of this season, I also can’t fault the choice because when given the task of turning the Cowboy around, he did a good (not great) job.  Making other coaching changes makes sense to cement his style for next season, and also is a way to show the players that things will be different next year.  Here’s to hoping diferent eqautes to better.

And then there are the playoffs.  Seattle, really?  Who knew?  As a person from Seattle I’ve become so leery of hoping that the Seahawks might put together a solid season, that even winning against the Saints seem more of a fluke than anything.  That said, I’d love to see them come in and take down the Bears.  I’m not betting on it, but I’d love to see it.

My predictions for the games this week:

  • Pittsburgh v Baltimore – I have to give the edge to the Steelers, they have shown a solid dominance of this series when Big Ben is playing and they are healthy, both of which will be true this weekend as far as I know.  The Ravens CAN beat the Steelers, I just don’t think they will, but this will be a great game.
  • Green Bay v Atlanta – I’ll admit to knowing the least about Atlanta of any of the playoff teams.  For some reason I’ve just not read, watched, or followed much about them.  Green Bay is on a roll, but I’ll tip my hat to Atlanta on this one, based on rest and record. 
  • Chicago v Seattle – As I said above, I’d love to see the Seahawks pull off another surprise, and I love a good underdog story, but I do believe that the Bears will really just out play Seattle and win.  IF Seattle has another game like last week from the offense and the defense finds a way to capitalize on the Bears mistakes, they could do it, but I think this game is the Bears to win or lose, and Seattle will depend on mistakes made if they are going to win.
  • New England v New York – Sorry Jets, but you aren’t making it out of this one alive.  Talk is cheap, and so far the Pats have the wind at their backs and have for a while this season.  Off field antics and talk are not going to shift things enough to buy you a win. 

To be certain, I’m not a person who has ever claimed I am good at predictions, nor do I follow the  stats and injuries etc closely.  Heck I don’t even play fantasy football.  So if you are considering these predictions when thinking who to bet on, I’d recommend coin flips will be just as accurate.  We’ll have to wait and see, but in the mean time it’ll be a great weekend of football.

Update from the weekend’s play:

Well I suspected a coin toss would be as accurate and I was about right.  The winners this weekend were Steelers, Packers, Bears, and Jets.  That puts me at even for wins to losses.  Of the teams I didn’t pick, I’ll tip my hat to the Jets who played a great game against the Patriots and deserved that win.  Green Bay also played a great game, but I’ll have to say that the Falcons played like a team that shouldn’t have been sitting on that record.  So here comes a good rivalry in the Bears and Green Bay at Soldier Field and the Jets Steelers game at Heinz Field will be a great one too.  I love great games and these both promise to be great.

A missed extra point, who does that?

Now I wonder, whose job is more at stake?  Buehler or Garrett?  I mean the Cardinals aren’t exactly the team a resurging Cowboys team should lose to, right?  And it almost didn’t.  Almost. 

After a 14-0 deficit from 2 INTs, you’d think things were out of hand.  At 21-3 the stat guys even had bad news for the Cowboys, it was back in the 80s when the Cowboys had overcome a deficit this large (18 or more) to win.  But giving credit where it is due, Kitna and Stephen McGee (after Kitna was hurt) didn’t let that slow them down, and the team rallied to get a 26-24 lead at the 1:46 mark of the fourth quarter.  It should’ve been 27-24, but Buehler missed the extra point.  Yep, that’s right the extra point.  But with 1:46 left and a lead, it just takes some defense and the game is done and a great comeback is in the books.  Oh wait, did we need defense?  Well so much for that one.

The Cowboys have already allowed more points this season than at any time in club history.

Season Points allowed
2010 423
2004 405
1962 402
1989 393

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/football/cowboys/stories/122910dnspocowbriefs.51c7da5.html

So the wondering public (or maybe just me) is wondering, who takes that credit and who takes that blame?  Sure Garrett can’t control the INTs, and the comeback was great.  But an L is still an L and he’s now not the wonder kid replacement coach he might’ve been.  Yet in the end, the extra point, wasn’t extra nor a point because Buehler missed what has got to the most practiced kick in the NFL, college, and even highschool I’d guess.  He’s missed 2 of these in his last 40 attempts.  Is that coaching, or just bad player discipline, bad form, or bad luck?  I’ll let Jerry Jones make  that call, but my opinion is it isn’t luck, and player skills are improved by discipline and practice, which is a coaching issue.  The play of the entire defenseive unit, which could’ve made that kick not so important, lacked what was needed as well.  Coaching. 

So despite all of this, we knew the Cowboys were not going to playoffs, but there is other news to watch.  Stephen McGee played well, taking his first NFL snaps in this game, and doing well with the team and handling the situation nicely.  Sure he’ll need more time under center to get finely tuned, but he played well.  And curiously, despite the abysmal season for the Cowboys, they got 5 selections for the Pro Bowl starting team this year, with only Atlanta and New England getting more this year.  Witten is having a great year. 

So in the end, the Cowboys seem to be exactly what the season indicates.  A talented group of individuals, not a talented team.  Let’s hope the off-season changes the team dynamic for the better.

It should’ve been over, Cowboys

In previous posts I talked about how much happier I am that the Cowboys seem to be playing better, and the games are entertaining.  However, I really thought that entertaining should be interpreted as winning, not winning, then losing a big lead, then kicking a field goal in the last 50 secs, then depending on our 31st-in-the-NFL ranked defense to hold.  That kind of nail biting drama I prefer in my theater experience, not my Sunday football.  I’ll concede that it was an exciting game, but with the Cowboys history this season the comeback had me thinking the collapse was upon us (again). 

Dallas led 13-0 before Grossman had crossed midfield. Washington coach Mike Shanahan’s benching of Donovan McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that stretched their lead to 27-7.

They could’ve been up even more, but had only field goals to show for drives that reached the 20 and 2, and didn’t have anything to show for drives that reached the 1 and 18.

Still, the way the game was going, what could go wrong?

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/gameflash/2010/12/19/4148_recap.html#ixzz18fkpH5cs

The good news is that they did hold and the game was won on that Field Goal.  But it really shouldn’t have come to that.  But then again that is the story of this season for the Cowboys.  It shouldn’t have come to that.  So what’s next?  The Cardinals and the Eagles.  Looks like a split to me, W from the Cards and a L from the Eagles, for a 6-10 finish.  Maybe if the defense can manage it, the Eagles game is a W as the Eagles lay up for the playoffs.  There is a difference in how this plays out, and likely Garrett’s ongoing role as head coach is at stake.

Not only did the Cowboys somehow manage to transform a blowout laugher into a staggering-to-the-wire victory over the Redskins, Jason Garrett’s future as the head coach may have been hanging in the balance.

Asked after a 33-30 survival if he had any such doubts, Garrett answered firmly, “No, not for a second. We live in the present.”

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/12/19/2716344/meaningless-game-evolves-into.html#ixzz18frzunLU

Jerry Jones was happy, but he wasn’t so direct about the future role of Garrett:

“I was like everyone else, I thought we had it tucked away, and it was going to be a cakewalk in the second half,” Jones said. “But the way it ended, I’m not looking at the negatives. I want to stress that again. Our team came back and got it done. For today, that’s what I’m taking away from this game.”

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/12/19/2716344/meaningless-game-evolves-into.html#ixzz18fsWFDVv

So IF Garrett is to have a future as head coach, I’ll wager he has lots of work to do. 

  • Fix the defense.  Sure they used to be an impressive defense, but things have not been working for them and they are next to last now.  Clean it up, replace slacking players, if needed change the Def Coordinator (who is interim after Phillips left?)

The bottom line is that some of new coordinator Paul Pasqualoni’s changes have not worked. How could anyone expect otherwise? When basically nothing was working for Phillips, it’s an achievement that anything at all is working for Pasqualoni.

But the problem is that the players who have been to Pro Bowls – Newman and his fellow corner Mike Jenkins – often look as beatable as the secondary’s rookies and unproven players.

Read more:  http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/football/cowboys/stories/122010dnspocowlishaw.2b15b65.html

  • Better play calling on the offensive side.  Yep, this on is Garrett throughout the season.  He should be doing better to get the offense moving and stay moving. 

The Cowboys raced out to its big lead thanks to good field position in the first half. In the first quarter alone, Dallas started drives at the Dallas 46 (Bryan McCann kickoff return), the Washington 30 (McCann punt return), the Washington 27 (Gerald Sensabaugh interception), and the Washington 35 (McCann punt return). However, Dallas only managed 13 points on those drives thanks to some shaky play in the red zone.

Read more: http://www.knowyourdallascowboys.com/2010/12/19/dallas-33-washington-30-still-defenseless-but-not-gutless/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThinkYouKnowYourDallasCowboys+%28Know+Your+Dallas+Cowboys%29

Now with some players hitting good marks, like Witten (congrats to you Jason on your achievements) and Kitna doing well, the questions remains, is the coaching staff the problem, or just slow on the solution?  With no playoffs in the picture, I guess we have time to find out.  And it shouldn’t have come to this.

And so, the fat lady sings for Cowboys

I’ll admit, it was an entertaining, if frustrating, game for Cowboys fans last night.  The expected news, but bad news regardless, is that this loss kills any hope (however small it was to begin with) that the Cowboys make the playoffs through the miracles of other team’s failure.  They are now going to have a losing season.  Given the defense is ranked 31st in the NFL, maybe that shouldn’t be surprising?

“We didn’t play good enough,” Brooking said. “That last drive we had an opportunity to stop them, and we didn’t. They absolutely just gashed us.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/12/13/2699172/cowboys-defensive-effort-deflated.html#ixzz180hQNUNw

Now the defense did do a great job of holding Vick.  McCoy and Jackson, not so much.  In particular, Jackson beats Jenkins on a bad gamble by Jenkins who dove for the blocked pass, missed, and sent Jackson to the races resulting in a touchdown.  Yep, Jenkins again.  Bad decision making from a cornerback hurts no doubt.  But he gambled without backup, and lost, for the play and also for the team.  There are no assurances that the Eagles wouldn’t have gone on to score anyway, but that play essentially killed the game for the Cowboys.

None was more impressive, nor as demoralizing, as Jackson’s 91-yard touchdown catch and run in the fourth quarter.

With the Eagles pinned at their nine-yard line, Vick threw an out pattern to Jackson on the left sideline.

Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins made the fatal mistake of diving to try and knock down the pass. Jenkins whiffed and Jackson was gone.

Jackson cut back across the field and stopped at the pylon to slowly fall backwards into the end zone, like he was in an old iced tea commercial.

Read more: http://www.foxsportssouthwest.com/12/13/10/McCoy-Jackson-ice-Cowboys-as-Vick-kept-i/landing.html?blockID=371903&feedID=4519

So they officially fall out of any chances of the playoffs:

Sunday’s loss officially killed the Cowboys’ playoff chances, too. Somehow at 8-8 there was a back door the Cowboys could sneak through into a wild-card spot if Green Bay, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay all lost the rest of their games.Realistically, that wasn’t going to happen. But even the craziest of scenarios is inconsequential now that the Cowboys are 4-9 and in need of a win over Washington Sunday to keep from clinching last place in the East.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/football/cowboys/stories/121310dnspocowlishaw.c1d9d04.html

So after it is all said and done, does Garrett stay as head coach?  Sure the Cowboys are playing better and showing more discipline and grit than they did under Phillips, but they are still losing the big games.  This was a winable game, as were many before it this season, and the Cowboys didn’t close.  Offensive line, probably needs help.  Defense, most certainly needs help.  Garrett, we’ll see, but since he was part of the problem in the first part of the season as offensive coordinator, I’m hard pressed to give him too much leeway in the latter part of the season.  He made visible and effective changes, but things are not better yet.  

Although Phillips deserved to be fired after the team cratered in midseason losses to Jacksonville and Green Bay, you might recall that the Cowboys’ first five defeats came by margins of six, seven, seven, three and six.

Phillips always had a disconcerting way of saying his team won the second half or the yardage battle or some other irrelevant statistic.

If you’re going to penalize Phillips for those failures, you can’t give too much credit to the interim coach for these close-but-no-cigar defeats.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/football/cowboys/stories/121310dnspocowlishaw.c1d9d04.html

I like the close games, they are entertaining, but I would rather win and move to the post season than play entertaining but losing football.  At least it’s better than not entertaining and still losing we had earlier, if that’s any consolation.