Archive for February, 2011


Season Recap: Game Six

For those of you who have grown accustomed to the season recaps I have been posting on Tuesdays, I again apologize that this one is so late.  Week seven’s Monday night home matchup against the New York Giants was a turning point of sorts for the Cowboys’ 2010 season, but not for the reason’s one might think.

Michael Boley (59) just before hitting Tony Romo and ending his season.

For the fifth time this season, Dallas came up with a loss, and once again, the Cowboys lost by one score.  Overshadowing the final score in this one was something more important.  This was the game in which Tony Romo broke his left collarbone, prematurely ending his season, and along with it, the Cowboys’ skin-of-their-teeth playoff hopes.

One thing that writer Matt Mosely points out that is interesting to look back on deals with Wade Phillips’ future with the team.

“Now you have to wonder whether Tony Romo’s injury could provide Jerry Jones with the excuse he needs to keep Phillips around. With the way the Cowboys’ defense played Monday, however, Phillips doesn’t have much to hang his hat on.”

As we all know, that certainly wasn’t the case for Phillips.  While Jones publicly supported him on several occasions early in the year, the continuing decline of this team left Jones with little choice but to get rid of Phillips.  That’s not for a few weeks yet, so I’ll try not to get too far ahead of myself.

And now for the glorious highlights:

Just as it has always been the first half of this season, the Cowboys were in this game, and they actually held the lead for awhile.  Two early Eli Manning interceptions let Dallas build a 10-0 lead, and in the second quarter they held a 20-7 lead.  However, the Giants promptly came back and led by four points at intermission, 24-20.

It only got worse in the third quarter, as Dallas slipped farther and farther out of this game.  By the time the fourth quarter began, the deficit had increased to 18 points, as New York reeled off 31 straight points.  A couple of garbage time touchdowns and a failed onside kick attempt at the end yielded a respectable score in a game that started off in Dallas’ favor but quickly swung in the other direction for the rest of the night.

Part of this could be attributed to Romo’s injury, as he went out early in the second quarter when Dallas had a 10-7 lead.  As Mosley states in his recap, the Cowboys even increased their lead before folding, which is somewhat odd.  Kitna played alright in Romo’s stead, but he had zero help from the running game.  When a guy like Kitna hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since week five of the 2008 season, what can you really expect?  He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions (though he did lose a fumble), so this loss isn’t on him.

No, once again the golden turkey award goes to the defense (mostly).  All you have to do is skim through the highlights and count up all the missed tackles to figure out what happened.  All told, Dallas gave up 200 yards rushing and Manning had 300 yards passing.  Yeah, he did throw three interceptions, but he also had four touchdowns.

Dez Bryant returns a punt for a score against the Giants.

The only real bright spots were Jason Witten, nine catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, and Dez Bryant, who caught four passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, along with a 93 yard punt return score.  Bryant gives me hope for the future, as it seems that he is quickly becoming the main man in terms of big, game changing plays.

The box score is kind of strange for this one.  For once, Dallas had fewer turnovers (five to two), and fewer penalty yards (46-42), but it still didn’t matter.  To counter that, the Giants had almost twice as many total yards, and they held the ball for a full quarter longer than Dallas.  Throw in a first down disparity (25-14) and the improvement in these problem areas was more than negated.

Well, there’s not much else to say about this one.  The Cowboys lost and Romo’s season ended.

Record to this point:  1-5

It’s been a full week now since I’ve made a blog post, and I apologize for that. It’s been a busy week, so I haven’t had as much time for this (that, and the free time I did have I spent putting this off). I will post the next game recap on Monday and try to get back on track.

Something I read today was an article about Jason Garrett visiting Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils basketball team over the past weekend.  I thought this was pretty interesting.  Garrett was able to sit in on practices and a game, and he said he was “really amazed by it. It inspired me a great deal.”

Mike Krzyzewski (left) and Jason Garrett

 

It’s not too often you’ll see a head coach, especially in the NFL, openly seek out another coach to gain insight into his abilities and strategies.  It is true (at least in college football) that coaches will interact during the offseason and “borrow” ideas from one another and that sort of thing.  But for Jason Garrett to already have a sense that he has a lot he can learn really struck me.

What made this all the more interesting was that Krzyzewski is a basketball coach.  Clearly, Garrett was looking for coaching wisdom that had absolutely nothing to do with X’s and O’s.  It was all about the way Krzyzewski conducts himself and his team and the general approach he takes as a leader.

“There is so much to learn and there is so much to benefit from to see how people who are successful do things in or out of football, in or out of sports,” Garrett said. “You can learn from it.”

I’m sure some people will be, or already have been, critical of Garrett for doing this.  Perhaps these people feel it’s tacky or that it shows a lack of ability on Garrett’s part.  This somehow “proves” that Jerry Jones made a bad decision in promoting Garrett to head coach, because he obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.  This isn’t anything that I’ve actually read, but I imagine it’s out there.

I like what he did though.  It’s not easy for someone to admit they have shortcomings and flaws, especially someone who just landed one of the most coveted jobs in sports.  Why would Garrett have any reason to think any of this is necessary?  If you or I were about to head into a first season as the Cowboys’ head coach, we’d probably be feeling pretty good about ourselves.  He hasn’t even had a full chance to see if his ideas can work on this level, and he knows he can do better.  This is encouraging to me, and makes me feel that this coming season might not be so bad.

Cartography 101

In the spirit of class assignments, today’s post will involve the creation of a map. But this is no ordinary map. ‘Tis a Google Map! To make this map my own, and to honor the Cowboys and reminisce about the days of yore, this map will contain the locations of the Cowboys five Super Bowl victories.

I only included Super Bowls that the Cowboys won, because who wants to be reminded of the losses?  Now for a brief exposition of each game.

1.  Super Bowl VI:  This was the Cowboys second trip to the Super Bowl.  The previous season, the team came up just short after the Baltimore Colts stole a 16-13 victory with a field goal in the final seconds.  This time, however, there would be no nail-biter, as the Cowboys made sure they got the win by shutting down the Dolphins 24-3.

2.  Super Bowl XII:  Six years later, the Cowboys were primed to bring home championship number two.  In a similar situation as when they won their first title, the Cowboys lost to the Steelers only two seasons prior, 21-17.  Once again, they wrapped up the comfortably, beating the Broncos 27-10.

3.  Super Bowl XXVII:  This was the game that kick-started the Cowboys’ dynasty of the ’90s.  In their most dominant Super Bowl performance to date, the Cowboys clobbered the Bills 52-17.  In fact, it could have been worse had Leon Lett not started celebrating too early.

4.  Super Bowl XXVIII:  The Cowboys were back at it again in a direct sequel to the previous year’s game.  It wasn’t a blowout like round one, but Dallas still managed to get the best of the Bills, beating them 30-13.  Buffalo actually had a 13-6 lead at halftime before Dallas woke up and drilled them in the second half.

5.  Super Bowl XXX:  This is the game that really made me a fan of the Cowboys.  In their third meeting all time in the Super Bowl, the Cowboys finally got the best of the Steelers, beating them 27-17.  Neil O’Donnell is infamous for throwing a late interception in this game that allowed Dallas to seal the win.

So, there are the five Super Bowl championships for the Dallas Cowboys.  Enjoy the nostalgia during this long off-season.

Sweet memories...

Season Recap: Game Five

This week the Cowboys hit the road again to take on the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of the previous season’s Divisional Round game.  I had my concerns about this game, since the last meeting turned into a blowout win for Minnesota.  Once again, the Metrodome would be the setting, and that can be a tough place to play, especially for a team like the Cowboys, who were coming off another tough loss to Tennessee.

Going into the season, this game had to be viewed as a marquee matchup.  Here we had two teams that each made the playoffs the year before, and one of them, Minnesota, was this close to making the Super Bowl.  Yet both teams entered this contest 1-3.  In short, it was a must win game for both sides.

This very brief recap from Blogging the Boys just reiterates what I’ve been saying all along.  It’s so short, I’ll just go ahead and post the whole thing right here.

It was a game they absolutely had to have, and they couldn’t get it. The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Minnesota Vikings 24-21, and in all likelihood they have given away a 2010 season that was supposed to go much differently. The same old mistakes, penalties, and turnovers that lost them three of their first four game were back, and the results were much the same. A game Dallas was able to dominate for long stretches statistically ended up in defeat. There’s nothing much one can say about this team that is fit for family reading.

In short, it’s pitiful. I have no heart for more of a recap.

That’s it.  That’s the whole recap in all its glory.  The writer, Dave Halprin, says a lot without saying very much.  What else can really be said?  It’s all been rehashed in previous recaps on this blog, and elsewhere the anthem rings just as loudly.

But you want to see some highlights, don’t you?  Yeah, you know you do.

In this game, Dallas had twice as many penalty yards and twice as many turnovers as Minnesota.  That alone is enough to lose games, but more than the raw numbers, the timing of them is what really hurt.

Mike Jenkins asks, "What did I do now?"

After a Vikings turnover early in the game, Dallas took advantage by scoring a touchdown to go up 7-0.  Later in the first quarter, Romo gave it back deep in his own part of the field, and the Vikings quickly scored to tie the game.  The second, and last, turnover of the day came in a 21 all tie in the fourth quarter.  Once again, the Vikings had a short field, and they went on to kick the winning field goal a short time later.

Now for the penalties, which were just as costly.  One directly removed a touchdown off the board, as Miles Austin was called for offensive pass interference on a 69-yard touchdown pass.  The second huge penalty came with just over two minutes left in the game.  The Vikings had a 3rd down and six play coming up at their own 29-yard line.  Everyone’s favorite whipping boy Mike Jenkins is again called for a penalty, this time for pass interference.  This allowed Minnesota to run out most of the clock, as Dallas got it back with just seconds remaining inside its own five-yard line.

This all says nothing about the kick return score given up by the Cowboys, the second such big return allowed in the last two games.  All of these plays can be seen in the video above.

Dez Bryant makes a tough touchdown grab against the Vikings.

Now for the awards ceremony for outstanding play (with tongue only barely in cheek).  Actually, Dallas played a good game.  As they have done in other contests, they out-gained the Vikings, held the ball longer, and had more first downs.  The defense did a fine job as well, holding Brett Favre to 118 passing yards and keeping Adrian Peterson to 3 yards per carry.

Roy Williams scored two more touchdowns, but had only 28 receiving yards.  Sadly, this would be the last time this season he would hit paydirt.  Also, Dez Bryant made a nice grab on a second half touchdown.  Miles Austin had just two catches for 12 yards, thanks in large part to the aforementioned penalty.

All in all, the Cowboys did enough to win this game, but they did just a little more to lose it.

Record to this point:  1-4

Twitter Scavenger Hunt

Disclaimer:  This post, as the title suggests has absolutely nothing to do with the Dallas Cowboys.  It is a post about a class assignment.

Tuesday was all about Twitter.  From that point on, this week has been a tweet filled extravaganza.  I was the last holdout in my social media class to sign up for twitter, so I didn’t know what I was doing.  I still don’t, but it’s at least better than it was a few days ago.

A picture we didn't take. The Coliseum is pretty cool, though.

The scavenger hunt involved going around campus with a classmate and finding ten “items,” taking photos of them, and tweeting about what we found.  We worked in groups of two, which was fortunate for me, considering I don’t have a smart phone.  My 70+ year old uncle says he can’t live without his Droid phone, but I have one that texts and takes pictures.  Whatever.  The hunt wasn’t bad, and it was nice to get out and around campus.  The only complaint I had was it was very cold out, so escaping that to find items inside was a must.

Most of the items on the list involved mini interviews with students, professors, and whoever else was unfortunate enough to be roaming around campus at the time.  Everyone we talked to cooperated and was willing to give a quick quote and a picture.  We got some pretty good photos and saw interesting things around campus.

As for interacting with students from other schools, I put that off for a few days for a couple of reasons:

1.  As I stated already, I didn’t know what I was doing on twitter, so I didn’t want to look like a complete idiot to twitter nation by saying or doing something really stupid.  I probably still did, anyway.

2.  I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t want to just get the assignment over with by saying something that sounded contrived.  I wanted to find photos and tweets that interested me to comment on and retweet.  Not only that, but I wanted to have good comments, and I wanted to add something decent to what was already posted.

That being said, I just finished the interactive portion of this assignment.  There were some good photos posted, and it’s neat to get a look at campuses I’ve never been to.  I was especially interested in the University of Oregon’s photos, because I’ve always wanted to visit that part of the country.  It’s interesting that we all have a shared college experience, but we’ve all gone through it in different environments.  These environments shape what we get out of college, and, in a way, this course.  It’s good to get beyond the Morgantown city limits and see what else is out there.

All in all, I’m learning how to use twitter, and with practice, I’m sure I’ll catch up to the current experts.  Now if only I had a smart phone…

P.S. I never wanted twitter because it seemed kind of pointless to me.  I thought people just used it to post a stream of consciousness about their lives.  I’m still kind of on the fence about it.  I see the value it can add when it’s used for distributing meaningful information, but I’m not sure I have anything worth tweeting about.  We’ll see, I guess.

Super Bowl Seating Saga

Something I’ve been meaning to address the last couple days is the ongoing story about the 400 or so fans who were displaced at the Super Bowl.  This strange situation continues to unfold and become more complicated as each day passes.  This blog post suggests that the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, and Jerry Jones are all to blame in this fiasco, and in my opinion rightly so.  In a collaborative effort to put on not just a football game, but a unique experience at the grandest stadium in sports, somehow these two powers screwed up.  It’s surprising to me that the NFL allowed this to happen, as it’s not a common occurrence.  The NFL usually has everything together, so at this point I feel like this whole mess was an aberration, not necessarily a sign of things to come.

Basically, what this all comes down to is there were temporary seats being installed, that for one reason or another weren’t finished in time for the game.  How this happens, I don’t know.  It’s not like all the involved parties were told the week of the game where it was being played.  At least those who are culpable are owning up to it.  Via a post by ESPN’s Calvin Watkins on NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman’s thoughts on the situation:

“We made the best of it. We screwed it up. I can’t change that,” Grubman said. “I’m a football fan and before I worked at the Super Bowl I took my young sons and my father … to see the New York Giants and if that would have happened to me, I would be furious.”

I feel for you, Jerry.

It’s understandable that for fans who likely traveled a considerable distance to,  and paid a sizable amount of money for this game, that they would be upset.  So the NFL made an offer to those fans.  They could either receive triple face value of their ticket as a cash refund plus receive a transferable ticket to next year’s game, or they could get a non-transferable ticket for any future Super Bowl and have hotel and flight accommodations paid for by the NFL.

It’s no surprise, however, that many people chose a third option:  suing the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, and Jerry Jones.  On top of the 400 people who didn’t get seats, over 800 others were moved around before seats were available.  Many of these people are involved in the lawsuit, as well.

In my opinion, the NFL made very good offers to these people to make up for the mistake.  This didn’t surprise me, as I fully expected the NFL to do what it could to make things right with fans.  Clearly, this wasn’t enough for most, however.  I’ve never been to a Super Bowl, and since I wasn’t there and don’t know the exact details of everyone’s experiences, this is just my two cents.  My opinion might be different had I gone through the same ordeal.

Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the NFL is now extending offers to an even larger group of people.

This has all been a big mess, and I hate that this happened at Cowboys Stadium.  The first time Dallas has gotten the Super Bowl, and all of this happens (I don’t think this will keep them from getting the Super Bowl again, but I hope they’ve learned from this situation).  Add to it the lackluster singing performances and the ever-worsening advertising the fans at home were subjected to, and the only salvageable aspect was the game itself.  Oh yeah, they played a game didn’t they?  A good one, too.  Let’s all be glad it wasn’t a blowout.  Jerry Jones has enough problems as it is.

Season Recap: Game Four

As per tradition on this blog, I present to you the weekly game recap.  Since Dallas had a bye following the game against Houston, I guess there’s not much to say about this one.

Okay, moving right along…Next up for the Cowboys was the Tennessee Titans at Cowboys Stadium.  The win over the Texans, coupled with an off week before this game, left the Cowboys and their fans riding high for two weeks.  A victory the last time out was just what the doctor ordered, and this was going to be the turning point, the moment when Dallas became the team it was expected to be in the preseason.

And back to reality.  In what turned out to be another close game, the Titans defeated the Cowboys 34-27, preventing Dallas from getting its first home victory of 2010.  This recap by ESPN blogger Matt Mosley sums it up better than I could (especially since it’s been a while since the game was played).

Here’s a refresher for those who need it.

As has been the case so far this season, Dallas dominated most statistical categories, including first downs, total yards, and time of possession.  However, penalties and turnovers did in the Cowboys yet again.  Dallas had almost 100 more penalty yards to go along with three turnovers (all Tony Romo interceptions), to none for Tennessee.

Perfect examples of both of these problems came late in the game and were outlined by Mosley.

Quarterback Tony Romo had a huge day in the passing game, but he made a back-breaking mistake in the fourth quarter that allowed the Titans to take a 27-20 lead.

The clip of Romo’s late interception is in the above video.  Romo threw a late pass to TE Martellus Bennett that was intercepted inside the Dallas 20 yard line.

David Buehler was the only one who could stop Marc Mariani from returning this kick for a touchdown.

After the Titans scored, however, there was still plenty of time to tie it, which the Cowboys did, only to see Tennessee take the lead again after an abnormally boneheaded move by Jason Witten and Marc Colombo.

The Cowboys tied the score at 27 on a touchdown pass to Jason Witten in the fourth quarter. The tight end flipped the ball to right tackle Marc Colombo to let him spike the ball. The two of them then did a leaping chest-bump, which led to Colombo landing on his backside. According to an NFL rule, a player cannot go to the ground during a touchdown celebration. And I guess poor coordination isn’t a plausible defense. The 15-yard penalty meant that kicker David Buehler couldn’t get a touchback, which contributed to Marc Mariani’s 73-yard return. The Titans quickly scored to make it 34-27.

There was absolutely no reason for this to happen.  I can understand getting excited, but this didn’t make any sense.  Both of these guys are veterans who should know better.  Don’t get me wrong, Jason Witten is a great tight end, and I’m glad Dallas has him, but this uncharacteristic move by him really cost the Cowboys in this game.

Stop me if you've seen this before.

And let’s not forget the big play given up by Mike Jenkins to Kenny Britt.  In a play reminiscent of the big pass he gave up to Johnny Knox of the Bears in week 2, Jenkins was fortunate that he managed to get a hand on Britt to keep him from scoring a touchdown.  At times in this game, Vince Young looked like an all-pro QB, which says a lot about how the secondary performed in this game.

As always, there were positives to take away from this game.  Miles Austin, Roy Williams, and Jason Witten each had huge games receiving, as all three came close to, or in Austin’s case, exceeded, the 100 yard receiving mark.  Also, Felix Jones churned out over 100 yards rushing on just 15 carries.  Romo’s gaudy passing numbers overshadow the fact that Dallas had some semblance of offensive balance in this game.

At times this season, Wade Phillips must have felt like Bill Murray, because his team kept losing games for virtually the same reasons.

Record to this point:  1-3

Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson celebrate a score in Super Bowl XLV.

Last night’s game was just about everything I hoped and expected it to be.  Aside from the Packers jumping out to an 18 point lead in the first half, it was a close, hard fought game that went down to the final possession.  Before the game, I kind of had a feeling Green Bay would win, and at the very least, I expected them to give Pittsburgh a good fight.

As this article points out, the competitive balance exhibited by the NFL year after year is not found in other sports.  The Packers are just the third 10-6 team to make (and win) the Super Bowl, and they became the second team (and the first from the NFC) to make the Super Bowl as a 6 seed (the other being the 2005 Steelers, who also won).

Throughout its history, the Super Bowl has had a tendency to be a blowout.  This was especially true during the 80’s and 90’s when 10 games were decided by at least 17 points, including a stretch of five games from 1984-1988 that were all decided by 19 points or more.  However, since 2000, only two games were won by more than two scores, and there have been none since 2003.  The last eight Super Bowls were decided by 6, 14, 4, 3, 12, 11, 3, and 3 points.

I think this all means that the NFL will continue to be the most popular sport in America because of the parity.  Every season, you never know who is really a contender.  For example, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year, but they were eliminated this year by the 7-9 Seahawks in a wild-card game.  Some say having such balance is good for the sport, as it retains interest across the board.  However, some might feel it’s better to have a powerhouse team that everyone is chasing every year.  I feel the NFL has a little of both.  While the Saints and Packers, in their own ways, came from nowhere to win titles the past two seasons, over the last decade, there have always been the same teams in the hunt:  The Patriots, the Colts, the Steelers.  In the 90’s it was the Cowboys.  In the 80’s, it was the 49ers, and before them, the Steelers and Cowboys in the 70’s.

What the Packers did last night did not surprise me, and I doubt it surprised others (save Steelers fans).  This sort of thing is expected anymore.  This is the same league in which the Dolphins went 1-15 in 2007 and 11-5 in 2008.  The only thing that could have happened this post-season that might have been a shock is if Seattle had won the Super Bowl as the first 7-9 team to make the playoffs (and as a four seed).

Aaron Rodgers hoists the Lombardi Trophy.

Green Bay overcame a lot of adversity this season to accomplish what they did, and I imagine one would be hard pressed to find another champion that had to deal with more injuries and setbacks.  Even in the game last night, they couldn’t escape a rash of injuries.  However, they did escape Dallas with a title.

More Defense

Just in the nick of time for the Super Bowl, I have a blog post for everyone to enjoy!  This is just a last minute look at the teams involved and how it relates to the Cowboys.  I’ve actually been working on this for a few days, and I went back and forth about whether to post it or not, so I guess I’m gonna do it.

(Sorta) fresh from the blogroll comes this posting from the Dallas Morning News, courtesy of writer Bob Sturm.  Something I hadn’t thought about is the fact that both Pittsburgh and Green Bay run a 3-4 defense, which is also Dallas’ base defense.  What I didn’t realize was the number of teams in the NFL that are running it now.  It’s up to 15, or nearly half the league.  When Dallas picked it up a few years ago, it wasn’t nearly as popular if memory serves me right.

Basically, Sturm says that Dallas could benefit from trying to be more like the Packers and Steelers by being more aggressive on defense and being willing to take more chances.  The evidence he presents in support of this cause is pretty telling, and it shows that the defensive secondary contributes very little in the way of sacks, and he chalks it up to the Cowboys’ reluctance to bring safety and corner blitzes.  Before I saw these figures, I guess I hadn’t realized how little the Cowboys use this strategy, especially when compared with other teams.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, after I read this, I thought it would be interesting to make a comparison among Wade Phillips, Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau, and Green Bay DC Dom Capers, since they all run a 3-4 defense, and since two are in the Super Bowl, while the first was head coach of the Cowboys.

It is a commonly held belief that a coordinator who becomes a head coach will generally not do so well with his side of the ball once he is running the whole show.  Specifically, this seems to occur when the head coach retains the play calling duties for offense or defense.  Well, I decided to look back at the careers of Phillips, LeBeau, and Capers to see if this is really true.  They have all been defensive coordinators and head coaches at some point.  I took a look at the yards per game allowed and points per game allowed while each coach held these two positions and compared their respective performances.  (Note:  I realize that it wasn’t always the case that they kept calling plays after becoming head coach, like Phillips did in his last two years in Dallas, but I still feel it’s worth a look.)

Going in, I expected to see a noticeable difference from each coach being a DC and a head coach.  I was pretty surprised with what I found, though.  (A special shout out to nfl.com for having all the necessary stats going back to 1932)

Since 1981, Wade Phillips has been a head coach or a defensive coordinator in every year except one.  Here are his numbers.

HC:  YPG allowed-316.5 PPG allowed-21.2

DC:  YPG allowed-320.6 PPG allowed-20.6

Dick Lebeau has been a DC or head coach for all but three years since 1984.

HC:  YPG allowed-324.7 PPG allowed-23.4

DC:  YPG allowed-312.9 PPG allowed-21.1

Dom Capers has been a DC or head coach for all but three years since 1992.

HC:  YPG allowed-338.4 PPG allowed-21.7

DC:  YPG allowed-294.3 PPG allowed-17.7

I expected more of a disparity to be present, but with the exception of Dom Capers, there doesn’t seem to be.  Like I said, when each of these men were head coaches, they didn’t necessarily retain play calling duties on defense.  Also, LeBeau’s head coaching sample is smaller than the others.  This all makes me wonder if our collective perception says one thing, while the statistics say something else.  Perhaps these are exceptions.  I can’t really say, but it does seem that each of them has done at least slightly better as defensive coordinators, and in Capers’ case, much better.

It should be an interesting game tonight.

Each passing second brings us all closer to the zenith of the NFL season, the Super Bowl.  Yet, I found two articles by Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News that outlines the Steelers and Packers thoughts on the Cowboys’ disappointing 2010 season.  I’m sure that’s just what the teams wanted to talk about when they were just days away from playing each other.  If this game was played anywhere else, it wouldn’t be brought up.  So, even when Dallas won’t be at the Super Bowl, unless the players happened to buy tickets, they were, at least for a period of time on Tuesday, the center of attention.  America’s Team, indeed.

I just wanted to write about a few of the quotes I read that I found interesting.

Pittsburgh:

WR Mike Wallace:

“It just goes to show that talent doesn’t make everything here. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you’re not headed in the right direction, have the right leaders, the right everything.  It’s not just players and coaches. The whole organization has to be right for things to win. It’s not about talent. It’s about chemistry.”

Truer words may never have been spoken.  From top to bottom, when compared to any other team in the league, the Cowboys have as much talent as anyone, and in many cases, more.  It’s a trite saying, but having the best team is more important than having the best players.  It’s like when the Terrell Owens circus was in town.  He is (was) a great player, but he can be a cancer to a locker room.  It’s tough to win in the NFL, and it takes more than a lot of talent.

WR Antwaan Randle El:

“I truly believe they will because they have the talent. When you have the talent, you just have to find the right coach or the right player in the locker room that’s going to stand up and begin to kick guys out that just are not part of the team.”

Jason Garrett seems to me like the type of coach who would do just that.  He feels like a no-nonsense coach who would not tolerate a player playing for himself instead of the team.  I really hope so.

Green Bay:

WR Greg Jennings:

“You would think that given the opportunity to play here in the Super Bowl that they would’ve come out with a little more umph.”

This one stings a little bit.  This quote really got my attention, because it’s so true.  Coming in to this season, it was all about how the Cowboys were Super Bowl favorites that would be the first franchise to host the game.  And they choked.  Once the team started 0-2, if they were really going to get serious about achieving this goal, they would have done something.  Admittedly, most of the losses this year were close, but a team that goes from Super Bowl contender in the pre-season, to 1-7 at mid-season, and finishes at 6-10 either has no heart or felt that it would be handed to them.

LB A.J. Hawk:

“It’s tough when you lose your starting quarterback,” Hawk said. “It probably wasn’t the year they were expecting, but that’s football. That’s how it goes. It’s tough to win games in this league. I know that. I wouldn’t predict them being down much longer.”

Tony Romo's season comes to an end with this hit against the Giants.

Normally, I’d buy this argument, but Dallas’ season was (more or less) long gone when Romo went down in week 7.  With Romo, the team was 1-4 (1-5 counting the loss in the game in which he got injured), so without him, they had no chance (even though their record was actually better without him).  If he was healthy all year, I still don’t think Dallas would have made the playoffs.

So, there you have a few thoughts from the guys who will be playing in Cowboys Stadium tomorrow night.  I wonder if they were even asked about their own game?