Archive for January, 2011

Not Sure What to Call This One

For a class assignment, I will be taking a few posts from blogs in my blogroll and taking ideas and doing what I can to build on them.  Here goes nothin’.

Here is a blog post written by Jan Hubbard of the Star-Telegram, in which the Cowboys potential draft options are discussed.  As I mentioned in a previous post, cornerback is a need for Dallas, and the early talk is (or at least, had been) that Dallas would likely go with Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara in the first round.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was quoted in the post as saying, “Frankly our corners — if you compare us to other teams across the league — we’re in good shape at corner.”

This blog suggests that perhaps Jones is trying to throw off other teams by feeding them a red herring.  Don’t you just love NFL conspiracies and teams being tricksy?  Jerry Jones takes a ton of flak from fans and critics, and it seems most people are in agreement that Dallas needs to take a good cornerback in this draft.

My last post (game two recap) had several examples of poor play by the secondary.  But, you know what, I should know by now never to expect anything when it comes to the Cowboys and the draft.  Nothing is ever conventional with them.  I can recall several times (most notably in 2004 when Dallas could have drafted Steven Jackson in the first round but traded down instead, opting to take Julius Jones in the second round) when Dallas was in a position to take a player that not only filled a need, but was also a premier player.  So, all bets are off.

So, what is Jerry Jones thinking anyway?

Jerry, please take a corner (or get Asomugha).

This next piece comes from the Dallas Morning News and reporter Gerry Fraley.  It also has to do with Jerry Jones, but not directly.  It is actually written about Jason Garrett and what role he might play in the draft decision making process.  As Cowboy fans are well aware, Jerry Jones is not just the owner, but also the GM, so he calls the shots when it comes to personnel.

The blog states “Garrett said today that he will have a voice in the draft operation but will not make the final call on picks.”  Not that I would actually expect him to do so.  That’s what GM’s are for.  It’s worth noting that he is at least going to have some input, though.  It wasn’t too long ago that Jones and former coach Bill Parcells had a power struggle that included this aspect.  If Parcells didn’t get a voice, I don’t see Garrett getting one either.  I’m not sold on it.

I swear I didn’t plan it this way, but, once again, this next article, written by Alex Weston of CowboysGab, is about Jerry Jones and the draft.  This time, he’s talking offensive line.  Jones was quoted as saying:

“You look at numbers, you’ve got five positions on the offensive line and certainly that gives you a chance to address that area because of the numbers of players that you play in that unit. But I think we look at it and it doesn’t surprise me that we still could have a need in the offensive line because of just that.”

Like cornerback, offensive line has been an ongoing problem.  This line is getting old quickly, as only one starter (Doug Free) is under 30, and this year was his first as long time starter Flozell Adams’ replacement.  Incidentally, Adams will be playing in the Super Bowl, at Cowboys Stadium, with the Steelers, which is something he was never able to do while in Dallas.

Honestly, if Dallas doesn’t go corner in round one, offensive line would be fine by me.  The article also says that Jones felt Dallas was fine at the offensive skill positions.  I don’t disagree with this, but there is one hangup I have about it:  running back.  I know Dallas supposedly has a “three-headed monster” at running back, but the running game has been terrible for a long time, not just during Garrett’s tenure as offensive coordinator.  You can blame the line or the backs, I’m sure they are both culpable to some extent.

Can any of these guys step up for Dallas in 2011?

I mentioned the line issues, but as far as running back is concerned, Marion Barber (middle photo) just doesn’t seem to be the same player he was before he became the starter a few years ago, Felix Jones (left) is injury prone (as is Barber), and Tashard Choice has been inconsistent and doesn’t see the field much.  I’m not suggesting that Dallas take a running back in round one, but the lingering problems in this area need to be addressed.


Season Recap: Game Two

Now we come to week number two, in which the Cowboys showed that their performance against the Redskins may not have been as fluky as previously thought (by me, anyway).  It was the first home game for the Cowboys in 2010, and it was pretty close throughout.  This was the second of several close losses Dallas had this season.

Here are some highlights from the game (although it’s mostly Bears-related).

This clip shows much of the same plays that are in the previous one, except the good plays Dallas had are included.

From what I see, turnovers and defensive lapses were what killed Dallas in this game.  The Cowboys had three turnovers, while the Bears had none.  The first two were interceptions thrown by Tony Romo that led to field goals for Chicago, while the final one, a fumble by Roy Williams, allowed the Bears to run a little bit of time off the clock in the fourth quarter.  More importantly, Dallas was trailing by 10 at the time, and had been moving the ball pretty well before the turnover.  Chicago punted after three plays, but Dallas was pinned back at its own 21 yard line and had to start over again.  They did manage a field goal with under two minutes left, but the onside kick try failed, and the Bears ran out the rest of the clock.

Now for the defensive problems.  Looking at the first video clip, three plays stand out to me.  First, at the 1:15 mark, the Cowboys allowed TE Greg Olsen to take a short catch and run free for a touchdown.  He was uncovered, and no one was in a position to stop him from scoring.  Second, at the 2:08 mark, was the 59 yard pass Jay Cutler threw to Johnny Knox.

Johnny Knox makes a reception after getting past Mike Jenkins.

It’s bad enough to give up a big play, but it was 3rd down and 15 from their own 21 yard line.  Knox just blew past Mike Jenkins, and the Bears scored a touchdown a few plays later.  Finally, the third play that made a difference comes at the 4:02 mark.  It was a three point game, and Chicago had a 2nd and two play at the Dallas 41 yard line.  Cutler threw a short pass to Devin Hester, who was wide open, and he got by Terence Newman for a big gain inside the Dallas five yard line.  Chicago scored a touchdown on the next play to put the game away.

With all of the bad plays on offense and defense, there were some good things to take away from this loss.  For one thing, Miles Austin was doing a good job showing that what he accomplished the previous season was not a fluke, and he was the real deal.  For the second straight game, he had 10 catches, showing that he can be a go-to guy.  Unfortunately, this would be the last game of the season that we would see him catch so many passes.

Another good thing to see was Dez Bryant scoring his first career touchdown on a punt return.

Dez Bryant scores on a punt return against the Bears.

The rookie only caught two passes, but this play, which gave Dallas the first of two leads it would hold in this game, showed the kind of big play ability we hoped to see from him.

All in all, it was a game that could have gone the other way, but mistakes again sealed the Cowboys’ fate.

Record to this point:  0-2

This is a bit off topic, as this is not a political blog, but since it is something about which Americans take a great interest, it should be mentioned.  Also, it is a class assignment.  Anyway, I will now present to you my thoughts about President Obama’s speech.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad speech.  It wasn’t anything more or less than what I really expected.  He called for bipartisanship, and he stressed the need for controlled spending and job growth.  That’s pretty much what I figured he would focus on.  Some of it I agreed with, while some I didn’t.  Whether or not any of his plans actually come to fruition remains to be seen, but there were some good ideas mentioned, like devoting more resources to education and investing more in energy.

10:12-Doesn’t know how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but he’s sure we’ll get there.  The strength of our union is strong.  At least he tried to impart a positive feeling at the end of his speech.

10:08-Our democracy is messy at times, but people in America wouldn’t trade places with any other nation.  Different policies, opinions, backgrounds, but we all share the same dream as Americans.  Again, he is reiterating the need for unity.

10:06-No American will be prevented from serving because of sexuality.  Again, I’m not going to touch this one, as I don’t agree with it, but this video pretty much sums it up.

10:04-U.S. supports democratic aspirations of all people.  The things we’ve fought for live in the hearts of people everywhere.  This ovation is longer than the other ones.

9:58-He says the war in Iraq is coming to an end.  America is working to become more secure to protect itself from Al-Qaeda.  American Muslims are part of the American family.  By preventing the Taliban from having a stronghold, they can’t form a base to attack as easily.  In July, we’ll begin to bring troops home.  I don’t want to know when the troops are coming home, and I especially don’t want terrorists to know, either.

9:55-He says government will make a website for people to see where money is being spent.  People need to know when representatives are meeting with lobbyists.  He says he will veto any bill with earmarks in it.  John McCain is very pleased.  I am, too.

9:53-Give people a more competent and efficient government.  The president made a lame joke that everyone thought was hilarious.  Merge and consolidate agencies to eliminate waste.  It’s always bothered me how the government has multiple agencies that serve the same functions, so I hope they are able to make the government smaller.

9:50-Medicare and Medicaid factor the most into deficit.  Need to bring down costs.  Reign in frivolous lawsuits.  Medical malpractice reform.  Malpractice lawsuits are out of hand, so this makes a lot of sense to me.  He says we need a bipartisan solution to strengthen social security for future generations.  Don’t hurt people on it now or future people who will need it.  This makes sense.  Wants to cut tax breaks for the richest 2% of Americans.  This does not.

9:47-Legacy of deficit spending going back almost a decade.  We have to confront the fact that government spends more than it takes in.  Government needs to live within its means.  Wants to freeze annual domestic spending for next five years.  Will reduce deficit by $500 billion over next decade.  Cutting spending in defense, community programs, and other areas to save money.  Make sure we are cutting excess weight, not necessary spending like investment.  It won’t be enough to only cut domestic spending.  This I agree with.  Government spending is out of control and needs to be reigned in.

9:45-Obama says he wants input on how to make healthcare reform more affordable and doable.  He’s not willing to go back to when insurance companies could deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  Fix what needs fixing and let’s move forward.  Don’t fight the same battles from last two years.  I didn’t agree with the healthcare legislation when it passed, so I’m not going to get into this.

9:42-Wants Democrats and Republicans to lower taxes for corporations.  This surprised me, given that he is a Democrat.

9:41-Obama wants to invest heavily in education, innovation, and infrastructure.  I agree that these are all key areas that need addressed.

9:38-Obama said he wants better infrastructure.  Roads, transportation, internet access.  Wants to further efforts to bring more jobs to construction.  80% of Americans access to high speed rail in 25 years.  In five years, high speed wireless access to 98% of Americans.  I agree that America needs to address these kinds of issues, especially when it comes to rural areas like West Virginia, which tends to get left behind much of the time.

9:37-Obama said he wants to address illegal immigration once and for all.  Doesn’t want to send people away who could help the U.S. He wants all to agree to make an effort to solve this problem.  I don’t agree with his ideas on illegal immigration, so let’s move on.

9:29-In ten years, over half of jobs will require education past high school.  9th in proportion of young people with a college degree.  25% of high school students don’t graduate.  This article says the U.S. is 12th out of 36 developed countries in college degree attainment.  I agree that America needs to better educate children.  We are consistently behind other countries in academic achievement, and there is no excuse for it.

9:27-Become first country with 1 million electric cars by 2015.  Wants to eliminate dependence on oil-more biofuels and clean energy.  By 2035, 80% of energy will be clean-goal.  I like the idea, but it’s hard to say where we’ll be energy-wise in 24 years.

9:25-America will invest in biomedical research, information technology, and clean energy technology.  Strengthen security, protect the planet, and create jobs.  This all makes sense to me, if it will happen.

9:24-This is our generation’s “Sputnik moment.”  He suggests this is America’s time to become innovators once again.

9:23-I wish he would say “Hold your applause until the end.”

9:19-Obama makes a good point about how foreign nations are more competitive than they used to be with the U.S.

9:17-Obama says 1 million private sector jobs were created last year.  The article I just cited says the U.S. has lost a net of 439,000 jobs since June, 2009.

9:16-Obama announces that the economy is growing, but America needs to focus on building more industry at home.  This article from the Huffington Post suggests the economy isn’t doing as well as the government might lead us to believe.

9:14-A lot more clapping than I expected.

9:13-The President is using the Tucson incident to make a point about the need for American unity.  I guess it works, but it could be viewed as taking advantage of a bad situation to make a statement.  American unity does matter, though.

9:12-A nice gesture by everyone to acknowledge Representative Giffords’ absence.

9:11-He begins by congratulating Congress and new Speaker of the House John Boehner.  That’s nice, since Boehner is a Republican and all.  It’s probably just traditional to do it, though.

9:10-And we’re off…

9:09-I don’t normally watch this, so it’s surprising to me that all of this is taking so long to get started.

9:06-I just saw a pudding commercial.  Sounds good.

9:04-I wish this thing would get going.

9:01-Katie Couric is saying that Democrats and Republicans will intermingle, whereas they typically sit on opposite sides during this speech.  I find this an interesting way of doing things.  Maybe they’ll start to get along better?  Probably not.

8:57-We’re now less than three minutes away from the State of the Union Address.

Blogroll Please…

As this blog is about the Cowboys, and to a lesser extent the NFL in general, it’s now time to list what other blogs I will use for information, inspiration, etc.  These are blogs that are on the same subject, and I will be using them to help me become better informed as I try to inform others.  So, without further ado, I present the blogroll rundown.

1.  Bleacher Report Cowboys Blog:  I chose this blog because I already read Bleacher Report from time to time, and since there is a page for just the Cowboys, it seemed to make sense.  Plus, there are other blogs on the site that can provide more complete information.

2.  Blogging the Boys:  I actually wasn’t familiar with this blog until I began searching for sites to include in this, but after perusing it a bit, it seemed like a site with good information (and it also has polls!).

3.  Cowboys Gab:  Again, this is a blog that I hadn’t seen until recently (get used to reading that in this post).  I looked through it, and it also looked good to me.  It is updated quite frequently, and it also has relevant general NFL posts, like ones regarding the playoffs.

4.  Dallas Morning News:  Once again, this isn’t a blog I had read previously (I actually haven’t read any blogs on a consistent basis).  One big reason I chose this one was because it’s affiliated with a newspaper (i.e., a credible source).  That’s not to say these other blogs aren’t credible (it would sure make a lot of sense to include them if they weren’t), but I just get warm fuzzies knowing that a newspaper is behind it.

5.  Dallas  I’m really getting tired of saying it, but I hadn’t read this blog until recently.  Honestly, I don’t really know what to say about these blogs that hasn’t been said.  I just liked what I read and it seemed pretty good.

6.  ESPN Cowboys Blog:  Now we come to a blog that I’ve read.  I look at the NFC East blog on here as well, and I like what I’ve read, and given that it’s ESPN, I feel safe in using it for my blog.

7.  Know Your Dallas Cowboys:  This blog seemed a bit different from the other ones.  Not only is there new information, but the site also has historical info and trivia, which I thought was cool.

8. NFL Blog:  I chose this blog because it covers the entire NFL, which will help give me more perspective on things, especially now that the season is almost over and what comes out will be news related.

9.  Silver and Blue Report:  I like the look of this blog, and it gets updated quite a bit it looks like.  The first page was full of entries regarding player breakdowns, which I thought was interesting and useful.

10.  Star Telegram:  This is another site affiliated with a newspaper, which is part of the reason I chose it.  Another reason is because it is based in Fort Worth, a Dallas suburb, so the writers for it are close to the situation about which they are blogging.

Season Recap: Game One

Oh boy, here we go.  This is it folks.  The beginning of the end for the Cowboys’ 2010 season.  Little did any of us know at the time, but the first game of 2010 was a major sign of things to come.  This ugly game against the Washington Redskins was surprising to me, to say the least, as Dallas was a popular pre-season Super Bowl pick out of the NFC, but I brushed it off as an aberration.

I remember watching this game and being  so excited, as I am every year, that the NFL season was finally starting.  It seems like it comes and goes so fast, and there is little time to savor any of it.  We are now mere weeks away from the Super Bowl, and it feels like it just started.  But I digress.  If you really want to relive the horror of this game, be my guest.

Yikes.  The moment that still stands out to me, and likely everyone else, is the last play of the first half (about 1:30 into the video), when Tashard Choice fumbled the ball, and the Redskins got a scoop and score to go up 10-0.  Normally, I don’t have a problem with trying to get a score before the half, but I make an exception here.  Dallas had the ball around its own 35 yard line with time for only one play.  Romo was under some pressure, so he couldn’t chuck the ball deep.  He did the safest thing in more-or-less lateraling the ball to Choice, who simply tried to do too much.  It was only a three point game anyway, and Dallas ended up losing by 6.

I don’t hold it against Choice, as things just go badly sometimes.  It’s really easy to say it was a bad play, but had the line protected better, maybe Romo could have gone downfield, and who knows what might have happened.

The play that has the dubious distinction of being the second most memorable from this game was the last play.  Here’s a video devoted solely to that play.

The Cowboys had three seconds left, with the ball on the Redskins 13 yard line.  I can remember how excited I was when it appeared Dallas had tied the game, with a chance to win it with the extra point.  Then, depression set in when I realized there was a penalty for holding on RT Alex Barron.  I distinctly remember it being said during the broadcast that Barron was the most penalized offensive lineman in the league.  Dallas brought him in before the season because of injuries.  How fitting, then, that the game should end the way it did.

On a positive note, we all got what we wanted in seeing Dez Bryant in action.  He was hurt during the preseason, so to make up for it, the coaches decided to get him eight catches in his debut.  That’s pretty good, but it was only for 56 yards.  Still, it was nice to see him on the field for the first time.

Dallas really outdid Washington in about every category, but they had more penalties and turnovers, and those two things ultimately gave the Redskins an extra seven points, while keeping the Cowboys from seven of their own.

Record to this point:  0-1

Way Early NFL Draft Talk

So I was reading an article about the upcoming NFL Draft and what direction Dallas might go in.  Dallas has the ninth overall pick, which, as the article states, is the highest pick the Cowboys have had since 2003.  That year, Dallas chose Terence Newman, who is the team’s top cornerback.

Prince Amukamara (Left)

Just like that season, the Cowboys might go with a cornerback in the top 10.  According to the article, Mel Kiper has Dallas taking Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara in his mock draft. I don’t know anything about the guy, as I don’t recall ever seeing him play, but I do know the Cowboys need secondary help.  The defense gave up an average of 243 passing yards per game in 2010, which was “good enough” for 26th overall in the league.  Ouch.  To make matters worse, they tied the Houston Texans for giving up the most touchdown passes this year, with 33.  Oh yeah, I better not forget that they were in the bottom ten for completion percentage allowed and opposing quarterback rating.

It’s not all the secondary’s fault, but Dallas has needed better play from its safeties (or better yet, just better safeties would be nice) for the past few years.  Now, they are starting to have more issues with corner play.  I would have no problem at all with Dallas taking a corner or a safety with their first pick, so long as they don’t reach for a player.

Nnamdi Asomugha

All of that being said, there is another option available, so long as a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached.  Nnamdi Asomugha is considered to be the best cornerback in the league, and he is set to become a free agent this year. The only problem is, if a new CBA can’t be reached, there will be a lockout, and that means the free agency period that typically begins in or around March would not occur until a new CBA is in place.

I like the idea of bringing Asomugha to Dallas over bringing in a rookie for a couple of reasons.  The obvious reason is he is a veteran, and you know what you’re going to get with him.  The draft is hit or miss, as we all know, so if they can fill this need with a veteran, I would be in favor of it.  An argument against this is the idea that it will cost Dallas a lot of money to get him.  It is true that he signed a contract two years ago that was worth over $45 million (due to the terms of the deal, the third year, which would have been the 2011 season, was voided), making him the highest paid defensive back in NFL history.  However, for a comparison, last year’s top CB pick, Joe Haden, signed a five year, $50 million contract before he had done anything in the league.  He was taken seventh overall by Cleveland.  I’d rather go with a proven commodity than a rookie, when Dallas will have to pay a lot of money for either one.

This is all speculation, as it always is, but my hope is that Dallas can land Asomugha, because the team has other needs, like offensive line, to address as well, and getting an elite lineman to go along with the best CB in the NFL would certainly be a boon for this team as it looks to get back on track next season.

Cowboys off-season news

Rob Ryan

During the course of this blog, I plan to look back on the 2010 season to do a recap.  A lot happened this past season, some good, mostly bad.  I’ll get to that soon enough, but there is something more timely to address in this posting.  Rumor has it that the Cowboys have named Rob Ryan as the new defensive coordinator.  However, according to the Dallas Cowboys official team website, nothing official has been announced.

Ryan has been the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns the past two seasons (his brother Rex Ryan is the head coach of the New York Jets, who will face Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game next weekend).  His first season there, the Browns finished 31st (out of 32 teams) in yards per game allowed, while finishing 21st in points per game allowed.  This season, the team showed improvement in both areas, finishing 22nd in ypg allowed and 13th in ppg allowed.

Eric Mangini had been the head coach of the Browns for the past two years as well, but after finishing 5-11 both years, he was let go.  The Browns recently hired former Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to be their head coach, and Mangini’s assistants are not likely to be retained.

The reason the Cowboys need a new defensive coordinator is because, they too have undergone a coaching change this off-season.  Former offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was promoted to head coach following a stint as the interim head coach the second half of the season.  Former head coach Wade Phillips was let go after a dismal 1-7 start to the season.  Phillips served as defensive coordinator as well during his last two years in Dallas.  He is now the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.

New head coach Jason Garrett (Left) and former head coach Wade Phillips.

After Phillips was fired, defensive assistant Paul Pasqualoni was promoted to defensive coordinator for the second half of the season.  However, he was recently hired to be the new head coach at the University of Connecticut, which had a vacancy once Randy Edsall left to coach at the University of Maryland, which also had a vacancy once Ralph Friedgen was let go (you get all that?).

Anyway, the big question is whether or not Ryan can help the Cowboys’ defense make some improvement.  For all the talent this team has on both sides of the ball, the defense was not very good this season.  In 2009, the Cowboys were 9th in the NFL in yards per game allowed, while ranking 2nd in the league in points per game allowed.  This season, they regressed to 23rd in ypg allowed and 31st in ppg allowed.

I’ve been reading that even if Dallas does hire Ryan, he might not stay long.  He is looking to become a head coach, like his brother.  So far, the opportunity has not been there, but if he does well enough in Dallas, he might not have to wait much longer.

Okay, so after giving it some thought, and not being able to come up with anything better, I have decided to dedicate this blog to…(suspenseful pause) the Dallas Cowboys.  Yes, America’s Team will finally get the recognition and exposure it so desperately deserves and currently lacks.  Along with WVU sports, the Dallas Cowboys are, without a doubt, my favorite sports team.  So, after reflecting on my life and the interests that I have, I realized, or rather, reaffirmed, that I, in fact, have no life to speak of, nor am I very interesting.  What the hey, might as well devote this thing to the ‘Boys.  Are you ready for some football?  Aaaaalllll-righty then!

And now to leave you with a clip that incorporates another thing I really enjoy, King of the Hill.  Maybe I’ll talk about that at some point, too.

First one

This is my first attempt at posting to my blog.  At this point, I don’t have a clear direction in mind, but I hope to find a focus for it soon.  Whatever direction it takes, my hope is to provide interesting information about a meaningful subject, about which people would want to read.

Within the coming days, I will have a better idea for this blog.  It seems pointless to even start a blog before knowing where to go with it, but this is for a class, so something needed to be done.  I’m looking for a topic that strikes me as personally meaningful that also has value on a larger scale to a group of people.

Stay tuned…or not.