Game Preview: Cowboys @ Giants

Cowboys (5-3) vs. Giants 6-1) Sunday, November 2, 3:15 PM CT on FOX

Week 9 Preview:

Cowboys Are Huge Underdog Against Defending Champion Giants

After the defense stepped up in a 13-9 victory over the Bucs last wek, the Cwboys now head to Giants Stadium to take on the New York iants in a pivotal game. 

A win would put the Cowboys right back in the NFC East race headed into their bye week, just a 1/2 game behind the Giants for first, but a loss would likely mean that they would have to start focusing on the wild card. 

For the Cowboys to have any chance in this game, they will need to have a defensive performance similar to the one that they did against Tampa Bay.  Without Tony Romo, the Dallas offense will not be able to match the Giants point for point in a shootout. 

The task of stopping Eli Manning and the Giants will not be so easy though.  The Giants rank 3rd in the NFL in total offense, and 8th in scoring offense.  Stopping the three-headed monster that is the Giants’ running game will be crucial, especially Brandon Jacobs.   

The Cowboys’ offense will once again be led by Brad Johnson.  For the Cowboys to be effective on offense, the offensive line will have to protect Brad Johnson extremely well against the Giants fierce pass rush.  Brad Johnson is not a very mobile quarterbck, and while Tony Romo can work his magic to escape the pressure most of the time, Brad Johnson can’t.  If the offensive line doesn’t do its job, it will be a long day for the Cowboys. 

Starting cornerback Anthony Henry (thigh), backup outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (hamstring), and backup safety Pat Watkins (neck) are probable.  Starting tight end Jason Witten (cracked rib) did not practice all wek and is a game-time decision.  Starting quarterback Tony Romo (broken finger), starting cornerback Terence Newman (abdomen), starting left guard Kyle Kosier (foot), and backup runningback Felix Jones (hamstring) are all listed as out, but could return after the bye.   

Ready For the Showdown

Well Cowboys fans, three hours until kickoff. The 5-3 Cowboys will go into the Meadowlands to play the 6-1 Giants. Any sports show you turn on or website you load will tell you the Cowboys are no longer the favorites and expect the “Giants ‘to put a killin’ on the ‘Boys” (as said on ESPN).

Hey, they can say all they want but this is why we play the games. The Cowboys have a ton of men out due to injury but we are still stacked with talent.

I’m looking for a great game, a fight to the finish if you will. I don’t think my Cowboys are going down as easy as the media projects. I’m not going to run my mouth or shoot any trash talk but I’m not counting the Cowboys out by any means. I expect them to have a comeback game and show the nation why the Cowboys always prevail.

GO COWBOYS!

Am I Just a Confused Cowboy Fan or Just a Confused Writer?

For 30 years I have been following the Dallas Cowboys and last Sunday, I just became confused a little I think.

Was it just me, or did it seem like the Buccaneers morphed into their own version of the Dallas Cowboys? Those penalties at the end of the half that allowed the Cowboys to stay alive on their way to a touchdown is exactly what we Cowboys fans have been witnessing for a while now.

It was refreshing to see it could happen to another team!!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Dallas Cowboys team that fired up, emotional and intense. They were close last year against the Packers but weren’t able to maintain it through the second half. Last Sunday, the Cowboys kept that intensity up for almost the entire game, but this is what really counts: At times they executed on offense most of the time and the defense led by a “bunch of no names” were on a mission! You can be the most fired up and crazy team in the league but it doesn’t matter if you aren’t executing throughout the game. Sunday they were very close to playing a complete game.

Even though he failed to register a sack, DeMarcus Ware was a beast on Sunday. He was a force against the run and consistently putting Jeff Garcia on the ground. The only reason the Cowboys didn’t have more sacks was because of Garcia’s freakishly quick release, which most of the time was flinging the ball into nowhere. Perhaps the most amazing part of Ware’s day was the effect he had in pass coverage. Several times Ware dropped back in coverage to take away the quick slant across the middle and twice he made a play on the ball, once almost nabbing an interception. The fact that Ware played every single down on defense makes his day look that much better, especially considering he was still getting good pressure on the final drive.

Now I have to say Cowboys fans, we are faced with the very real possibility of having Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and Alan Ball as our top three cornerbacks next week. If Anthony Henry is ruled out against the Giants it is almost guaranteed that we will sign a corner during the week for depth purposes. Just don’t put all your hopes on Ty Law, which is a name getting thrown around. He wants starter money to play and you can’t pay someone that much to be a depth player, no matter what his pedigree may be. Jerry does do some crazy things though.

Marion Barber may not have had a great day statistically, but he almost singlehandedly willed this offense forward. Imagine what he might be able to do if the offensive line decided to actually start blocking for him.

Brad Johnson. Watching him play you have to question the play calling and offensive scheme. Defenses’ are stacking the box against the run, knowing that right now Johnson doesn’t have the ability to get the ball to his receivers downfield. So you ask yourself why not more slants, comebacks, dink and dunk stuff? Well for one, he hasn’t been accurate on those either. I do know this: If I can guess that we are about to run a screen or dump off to Barber on third and long, I’m pretty sure the defense can as well.

How much of difference would Felix Jones make if he came back this week? It will make defenses play a whole lot different that’s for sure.

I am not really getting my hopes up on that though!

Sunday was a perfect example of why Wade Phillips is a great defensive coordinator and just a decent head coach. Now we will never know the extent of how much control Wade took from Brian Stewart but there was definitely a difference in how the defense looked. Still hate seeing those corners’ playing so far back.

Sunday’s performance is why Zach Thomas was brought in, as he played an outstanding game. If we don’t make mistakes and the defense comes to play?

21-20 Cowboys!!

GO COWBOYS!!

 

Zach Thomas Leads With Words And Deeds

When the Cowboys acquired Zach Thomas this off season, I knew we were getting a great player, but I also knew that his best days were behind him.

The seven-time Pro Bowler was a leader on and off the field with the Miami Dolphins, and I wondered if he would bring that leadership to the Cowboys. I was glad to see Zach return to his home state of Texas where he first gained his fame while earning All-American at Texas Tech.

Since joining the Cowboys, Zach Thomas has been all that we could have hoped for and more. Not only does he lead the team with 55 tackles by a wide margin, but he may have struck a chord with his teammates before Sunday’s game when he gave them a small pep talk.

Marcus Spears revealed what Thomas said,

“Zach stood up in front of the defense last week and gave us quotes about just going out and playing, and stop worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day. Just go out and perform the day you’re out there.”

What happened next?

The defense played their best game of the season and held Tampa Bay to a season-low nine points.

Thomas brings a remarkable work ethic to the team. He is a calming presence when things are going tough, but he is also smart enough to know his words can have an impact on so many of the younger players who look up to him.

I’m so glad Zach is a Cowboy.

A Broken Rib Can’t Stop a Warrior

The Dallas Morning News and dallascowboys.com are reporting that Jason Witten has been diagnosed with a broken rib. If you recall, Witten left the game Sunday but later returned to the field. He played one series then sat the rest of the game out.

The Cowboys do not want to have to add another star to the long list of starters on the injury report. I honestly don’t remember a time when we had this many injuries.

Jason Witten wants to play despite his injury. If he plays he will be wearing protective gear to protect his ribs. What a warrior!

I believe even if Witten starts we will see a little more of Bennett than we’re used to. I’m okay with that, but we really have a tough match-up this weekend and absolutely NEED this win!

 

Quarterback Controversy? What Quarterback Controversy?

I heard a good joke today while driving to work, apparently the word on sports radio is that the Cowboys have a quarterback controversy… Are they kidding me or what?

I don’t see a controversy at all… What I see is A NO-BRAINER.

It’s time to get Brad Johnson out, and if Tony Romo needs more time to nurse that poor little pinky injury, then start Brooks Bollinger.

The 122-yard performance that Brad Johnson delivered against the Bucs was a total embarrasment… Every time Brad Johnson is in the game, it’s a total embarrassment.

ESPN had this to say about Johnson’s performance…

In the two games with Johnson starting for Romo, none of the Cowboys’ top three wide receivers or tight end Jason Witten has a reception for 20 or more yards. With Johnson in the lineup, Terrell Owens has just seven catches for 64 yards, Patrick Crayton four for 43 and newly acquired Roy Williams two for 10 yards. Witten has seven receptions for 52 yards. Williams is the only player among those mentioned with a touchdown catch.

The reality of the situation is that Sunday’s starting quarterback will be Brad Johnson once again… At least that’s what Wade Phillips said.

When asked if Brad Johnson would start against the Giants, Phillips said, “We’ll see. I would expect that. I don’t know why it would change.”

Asked why he wouldn’t just say Johnson was the starter, Phillips said: “OK, he’s going to start.”

It’s too bad football teams weren’t run by leaders who had to do the will of the people… Just like in our government… Nevermind… They don’t do our will either. We are all doomed…

A Win, is a win, is a win!!

I’ll take it!!! 

There is no such thing as a bad win in the NFL.  With the way things have been going around here ANY win is a good one.  This one was different.  Even the most die hard Cowboy fan (myself included) was waiting for Garcia to get a game winning TD on that last drive.  It didn’t happen.  Exhale now.  When we look back on the 2008 season yesterday may have very well been the turning point.  With visits to New York & Washington the next two games the Cowboys might not have recovered from another loss.  I know we can probably say the same thing in 3 weeks when we visit Washington.  This win was different.  There was no Tony Romo to bail the defense out.  The defense, and some Tampa penalites, saved the day and maybe the season.  We won’t know that for 8 more weeks but 5-3 sounds a whole lot better than 4-4!

From where I’m sitting:

  • Mike Jenkins- what a game!  The young CB’s really stepped up and showed they could play in this league.  If and when T New comes back  the CB position could be solidified for years to come
  • MB3 showed yesterday what a tough runner he is.  Unofficially 30 or so yards after contact.  Ran his heart out
  • I know it was only one catch but Roy Williams had the play of the game and maybe the season.  Just think if the ball was tipped in the air incomplete and the score is 6-3 instead of 10-6 at halftime.
  • Bradie James played like a man as well yesterday.  He is the leader on defense and he showed it yesterday
  • OK, not to throw cold water on a great win but the Brad Johnson tenure has to come to an end.  There is no downfield threat at all with him in the game.  Unofficially one pass deeper than 15 yards.  The Giants or any team is going to put 8 or even 9 guys up to stop Barber.  Can’t win like that.
  • Take a split in these next 2 and run.  But with the Giants at 6-1 and Wash at 6-2 and having already beat Dallas which win would you choose…..

Game Recap: Cowboys 13 – Buccaneers 9

Cowboys Defense Holds Off Bucs For 13-9 Victory 

 

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense stifled the Bucs and the offense generated just enough for a much needed 13-9 win on Sunday at Texas Stadium. 

The victory improved the Cowboys to 5-3 on the season and allowed them to keep pace with the Redskins and Giants in the NFC East race.

The game sis not get off to a very good start for heir first three offensive possessions were three-and-outs, and Bucs’ kicker Matt Bryant kicked two 36-yard field goals to give the Bucs’ an early 6-0 lead. 

The Cowboys picked things up in the second quarter.  Brad Johnson led the Cowboys on a 14-play drive, but it only led to a 38-yard field goal from Nick Nolk to cut the lead to 6-3. 

After the Cowboys were given ood piosition fter Matt Bryant missed a 51-yard field goal, the Dallas offense drove down the field again.  Marion Barber caught a short pass from Brad Johnson for 16 yards, and with just :01 left in the first half, wide receiver Roy Williams caught his first touchdown as a Cowboy on a fade route to give the Cowboys a 10-6 lead heading into halftime. 

It was a defensive struggle for the rest of the game.  The Cowboys and Bucs traded field goals in the third quarter to make it 13-9 Cowboys heading into the fourth. 

There was no scoring in the fourth quater, but the Cowboys had to hang on for dear life to get the win.  Tampa Bay drove from their own 26 to the Dallas 18, but failed to convert a 4th and 5 to give the Cowboys the win. 

Brad Johnson was just 19/33 for 122 yards in the game, and the Cowboys only generated 172 yards of offense for the game, but the difference in this one was that Brad Johnson did not turn the ball over this time.

Marion Barber carried the ball 25 times for 71 yards, and also caught 6 passes for 29 yards. 

Terrell Owens caught 5 passes for 33 yards while Roy Williams caught 2 passes for 10 yards and a touchdown. 

Nick Folk nailed both of his field goal attempts from 38 and 45 yards out. 

Bradie James and Jay Ratliff had a sack each.  DeMarcus Ware did not record a sack in this one, ending his streak of 10 consecutive games with at least one. 

The Dallas Cowboys now head to the Meadowlands for a huge game against the Giants on Sunday afternoon.  The defense and have to be just as good as they were against the Bucs and the offense neds to be much better to secure the win there though.   

Game Preview: Buccaneers @ Cowboys

Buccaneers (5-2) vs. Cowboys (4-3)  Sunday, October 26, Noon CT on FOX

Week 8 Preview:

Cowboys Getting Close To “Must Win” Situation Against Bucs

The Dallas Cowboys need to right the ship and fast.  After losing three of their last four games, the Cowboys are now 4-3 on the season, and if the season ended last week, the Cowboys would not even be in the playoffs.  A win would put Dallas right back in the thick of things though, so it is imperative to get a win. 

The Cowboys were beat downfield and run all over by the Rams last week, and that is going to have to chnge for the Cowboys to beat the Bucs.  The corners will have to do a better job of tackling and stay on their man for the Cowboys to have a chance to win the game.  The Cowboys still have a lot of weapons on offense, but without Romo until after the bye week, the Cowboys will have to get some help from the defense in this one.   Brad Johnson neds to be much more effective on offense than he was in St. Louis, especially against a stingy Tampa Bay defense that is ranked 9th in the NFL, allowing just 292.7 yards per game, and 4th in points per game allowed, at just 15.3.

After letting Steven Jackson run all over them in St. Louis, the Cowboys lok to stop Earnest Graham. Jay Ratliff will be a key cog in not allowing him to gain big yardage on the Cowboys. 

Running back Felix Jones (hamstring), left guard Kyle Kosier (foot), cornerback Terence Newman (abdomen surgery), starting quarterback Tony Romo (broken pinkie finger), and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer are out.  Linebackers Kevin Burnett and Greg Ellis (calf), linebacker Bradie James (elbow), nose tackle Tank Johnson (ankle), and safety Pat Watkins (neck) are listed as probable.        

It Is Not Time to Panic Cowboy Fans

Good Afternoon Cowboys Fans:

I am over the initial shock now of last weeks “drubbing” at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, a team in all actuality should not have been on the same field with the Cowboys.

I sometimes think expectations are a little high in Dallas from the fan base and especially from Jerry Jones. At the start of the season all the NFL analysts, “armchair quarterbacks” and sports reporters across the country had already penciled in the Cowboys to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They got off to a fast, 3-0 start and everyone was on the bandwagon. Then the Redskins came to town in week four and kind of humbled us. Two weeks later, the Cowboys went to the desert to play the Arizona Cardinals and quite frankly I think were beaten in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense, and special teams)… and the Cardinals’ played with much more intensity.

After the shameful exhibition the Cowboys put on last week in St. Louis, there has many a doubt surfaced as to whether the Cowboys can even make the playoffs, much less fulfill the pre-season Super Bowl expectations. All the people want to talk about is the plethora of injuries, a cancer at corner and a ticking time bomb at wide receiver, and most skeptics do not believe the Cowboys can overcome all this adversity and once again climb that mountain to become a Super Bowl contender. I am not one of those skeptics… and here are a few reasons why:

Brad Johnson even though he did not show it in St. Louis last week is not a typical back-up quarterback. You will not see him panic under pressure and run out of the back of the end zone for a safety. He will be the first to admit his arm strength and some of his talent has eroded over the course of his 17 year tenure, but I think he can still manage a game as good as anyone. I think if Cowboy’s Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett will not take as many “shots” down the field, but instead put Johnson in position to make plays and minimize the risk. We have to live with the fact Romo is hurt right now and get past the next 2-3 weeks. Johnson has a Super Bowl ring and still knows what it takes to win.

MB3 what can you say? He truly is a work of art and shows the heart of lion every time he straps on the star. Barber does not have the size of a Larry Johnson, (Kansas City) or a Frank Gore, (San Francisco). He is certainly not the fastest back in the NFL, but no one plays with as much heart as MB3. At this point in the season, Barber is my odds on favorite for MVP of the Cowboy’s offense.

As an opposing Defensive Coordinator, I would lose some sleep at night trying to come up with a game plan to stop the Cowboy’s offense. With T.O., Patrick Crayton, and now newly acquired Roy Williams, the Cowboy’s should have the best 3 receiver combination in the league. Now throw in Jason Witten and when the opposing Defensive Coordinator does get to sleep, it turns to nightmares. Over the next 2-3 weeks until Romo gets back and playing Brad Johnson, who has weaker arm strength, the long ball is not as big a factor. I am still convinced if Jason Garrett and Brad Johnson control the game clock with long time consuming drives and big doses of Barber, while complimenting him with 15-20 yd outs to the receivers and some across the middle plays to Witten, the Cowboys can play with almost any defense in this league. When Romo returns then “hell’s fury” will be unleashed in Dallas again!!

It was tough losing Felix Jones for a few weeks to the hamstring, but Cowboy fans don’t count out Tashard Choice. I had the brief opportunity to watch Choice when he was at the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, he transferred shortly after when it was apparent the writing was on the wall. A RB named Adrian “AD” Peterson came to town and Choice’s chances of playing the next 2-3 years at OU were going to be almost non-existent. He transferred to Georgia Tech and became a 3 year star. I think Choice was a steal in the 4th round and will produce big numbers for yrs to come in Dallas. Choice does not have the blazing speed or pass catching ability of Jones, but he has better vision and lower body strength. Combine that with the power of MB3 and they should beat, bruise and batter any defense.

Jason Witten has always been Tony’s security blanket and for next few weeks he should be the same for Brad Johnson. I think he is the best TE in the game today. I think linebackers and safeties don’t have the agility to stay with Witten and I am convinced most corners do not have the size or certainly the strength to matchup with him either. If they slow down the game with Johnson, I think Witten will be a major player in the next few weeks until Romo returns.

After Romo took a beating at the tune of 20 times in Arizona and broke his finger, everyone started pointing their fingers at the Cowboy’s offense line. However, no one pointed at the receivers for getting locked up in coverage or Romo for double-pumping to many times in the pocket. I did not see Tony one time in that game just take off and go get a 1st down.

The Cowboys have some Pro-Bowlers (Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Flozell Adams) on their offensive line, and the entire unit going into the St. Louis game had only given up 7 sacks. Keep in mind too, that the Cowboys have lost starting LG Kyle Kosier for most of the season. Even though Proctor has done well, he is still not a healthy Kosier.

Defensively DeMarcus Ware is a beast and despite drawing double teams all the time still leads the team in sacks with six (6), and is second on the team in tackles (32). What is so impressive about Ware is that he can play from the left side or the right side. In addition, he has the ability to rush the passer, defend the run and run with backs and tight ends in pass coverage. 

In addition, I have always believed the best way to protect a weak secondary is to blitz, rush the corners, blitz and rush the corners some more. Just the other day, I was talking to my good buddy, BIG, which incidentally besides me, just might be the biggest Cowboy fan I know! He said we have to keep pressure on the opposing quarterback and force turnovers. With the depleted secondary, the DEs’and LBs’ have to step up and make the big plays. I believe that other than long 3rd downs, we are foolish to sit back and play zone coverage. The Cowboys only have 15 sacks for the season and with that kind of talent up front they should be way ahead of that total.

D.Ware has a third of them himself and he is always double-teamed. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears have to collapse the pockets which should allow Greg Ellis and Kevin Burnett to blitz more. Heck I am not even opposed to seeing Zach Thomas or Bradie James blitz some from the inside linebacker position. I would think that would be some kind of a secret weapon, because I doubt many Defensive Coordinators expect to see a blitzing Zach Thomas.

The indefinite suspension of Adam “Pacman” Jones was kind of sad, but a hell of a lot more embarrassing in my opinion. Not to mention a major distraction to the team this early in the season. I don’t think that it is nearly as significant as the lingering injuries to Terrence Newman though, who is expected to be out at least another month. I do think when he returns (if it is not too late), the Cowboys will be ready to make the run.

A lot of people don’t like Anthony Henry, but he is a big and certainly physical corner, and I think Mike Jenkins has shown some promise already. I watched Jenkins many times in college and he is a “big time” playmaker. He just needs time to graduate from the college to the NFL level and that kind of leap takes time.

Where I think we are hurting in the secondary is in the nickel and dime corner package. I think if they would utilize Orlando Scandrick more and continue to get more help from the blitz packages; it will in turn make that part of our defense even better. Losing SS Roy Williams was a blow because he is also such a “run stuffer”, but injuries are part of this game and Pat Watkins, Pro Bowl FS Ken Hamlin will have to step up and make big plays. Something I would like to see more of is too is punishing the opposing receivers more after the catch. I think this secondary has lost a lot of respect, especially because the secondary is giving up way to many balls over the middle. In the past, when an opposing receiver came over the Cowboy’s middle, they became a sacrificial lamb! 

The bottom line is this Cowboy fans:

“Don’t Panic”!

We will still make the Playoffs!!

I am more concerned in getting that “monkey off our back” and winning that playoff game once we get there. Have a great Sunday everyone and GO COWBOYS!!

Special Teams Less Than Impressive

Am I forgetting some Special Team stats that are impressive from the last few years?  I don’t think so!

Our Special Teams have been less than impressive for a long time.

Back in 1990, Jimmy Johnson hired Joe Avezzano to lead the Special Teams. I remember his teams having that spark that made you sit on the edge of your seat when the punt or kickoff returner caught the ball. Do you remember all of those runbacks in the 90s?

It seems like since Avezzano left in 2003, when Bill Parcells took over, our Special Teams have the talent but not the coaching to give them that spark. I think we need Joe Avezzano back.

I mean come on, he is the only coach to win three Special Team Coach of the year awards. In 1991 the Cowboys led the NFL scoring with 20 points and kick off return average of 21.7 yards. Wouldn’t it be great to have that SPARK back?

Avezzano hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2005 after being released by the Oakland Raiders. He currently is owner of “Coach Joe’s” Bar and Grill in Frisco, Texas.