Happy Memorial Day From LSS

memorialday

Once again it falls upon all Americans to take a pause from the daily grind in remembrance of all the brave men and women that have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and gave their lives.

We at Lone Star Struck honor their memories this Memorial Day.

We also take great pride in all the servicemen and women who continue to serve their country and defend the American way of life all over the world.

All of you are true heroes and you make up the real America’s Team.

God Bless all of you for your unwavering loyalty, patriotism, integrity and courage.

Happy Memorial Day!

Enough Already, It’s Time To Dump Crayton

The last thing the Cowboys need right now is a divided clubhouse, especially after the lessons learned during the Terrell Owens era.

Since drafting wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft, one too many Cowboy players have been chirping about their status on the team and wanting out of silver and blue.

At first, I felt it was just a natural reaction for some players to balk when a team drafts a first rounder that plays the same position as them. But the situation with Patrick Crayton has now evolved into a black cloud that is hanging over the team and it could escalate into a major distraction that could once again divide a locker room and have players taking sides.

Yesterday, Patrick Crayton appeared on a radio and reiterated that he would like to be sent to another team as soon as possible so he can begin competing for a starting position with a new team.

He no longer believes that he will get a fair opportunity to compete for playing time when Cowboys training camp opens in a few weeks and wants out as soon as possible.

As was already reported on this site, Crayton is already boycotting voluntary workouts and has threatened to sit out training camp and the preseason unless he gets his way.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones feels differently and still believes the situation will work itself out, but I strongly disagree and believe that Jones is clearly misreading the situation and needs to address it now either by trading Crayton or giving him his release.

There is nothing left to gain by keeping Crayton at this point and we must act in due haste in eliminating him and his negative attitude from our team.

History has already taught us what can happen when you have one rotten apple in the barrel, lets not tempt fate again and potentially mar a new season even before the season gets officially underway.

What Should Cowboys Do With Patrick Crayton?

One of the Cowboys that I immediately started liking from day one of covering Dallas was Patrick Crayton.

Crayton came from the Parcells era where Dallas would make excellent draft choices of key starters for future Cowboy teams. Crayton was one of those guys that wasn’t supposed to succeed. He was a seventh round selection, who originally had played quarterback at Northwest Oklahoma State his senior season while playing wide receiver the previous three.

Okay, so I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of Northwest Oklahoma State to begin with…

Crayton came to the Cowboys with a lot of hope. Teams cut seventh rounders everyday, so he had to make an impression on the coaches immediately. Dallas decided to keep him, and he outperformed guys like Quincy Morgan.

When Terry Glenn suffered an injury, Crayton started in his place in 2007. He had his best season with 697 yards and seven touchdowns from 50 catches.

The guy has just got a cool name to start with, then add in the fact that he’s passionate about the game. I remember watching an interview of him by Dallas reporters, and the question something like what’s your main goal going into training camp.

Well, Crayton interrupted the reporter before he said training camp. He assumed immediately that they meant the season, and he said, “Super Bowl.”

Brief, simple, quick, but if you looked at his eyes, you could see quiet determination and resolve. This guy wants to win it all. Forget money, he wants to win it all, and I admire that in a player.

However, Dallas has made some moves that lead me to believe that there is a severe chance Dallas fans may lose our dedicated receiver.

First, you have to understand that Dallas is a team that runs the football a great deal. Roughly 44% of offensive plays last year were running plays, so Dallas likes to keep the running backs happy.

The part that concerns me is the fact that now Dallas has drafted Dez Bryant to go along with Miles Austin and Roy Williams, Crayton will have to settle at being the fourth wide receiver at best.

Also, Dallas like what Kevin Ogletree did last year as a rookie, and he’s much younger than the 31 year-old Crayton, so Dallas may deem Crayton expendable.

In fact, the rumor is that Dallas has already contacted the Miami Dolphins about a possible trade. The rumor makes sense because Miami has had issues with receiver, and the head coach, Tony Sparano, and the general manager, Bill Parcells, of the Dolphins are very familiar with Crayton and his abilities.

Sparano was once the offensive line coach for the Cowboys in 2007, and Parcells was the head coach for Dallas during 2004 when we drafted Patrick Crayton.

I definitely do not want that to happen. Call me sentimental, but I like the guy. I like his smooth crisp routes, I like how he returned two punts back for touchdowns in back to back weeks last year. I like how he caught a clutch touchdown against the Buffalo Bills where Dallas had to do the onside kick to win the game with a 53 yard field goal in 2007.

Please view the rest here: http://www.mtrmedia.com/cowboys/2010/05/what-should-the-dallas-cowboys-do-with-patrick-crayton.html

The Super Bowl Should Be Played Under Fair Conditions

This afternoon the NFL announced that Super Bowl XLVIII will be played at the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. This first cold weather site without a dome stadium will be the location of the ultimate game in the NFL, the one game all teams strive for every September, the one game that will make one team world champions. What do I think about this decision?

I think it’s wrong!

I just don’t understand how the ultimate game that is played for the ultimate prize can be played in a city that has a chance for snow, sleet, wind and freezing temperatures. Every September it’s the same for 32 teams in the NFL. They play hard and fight to position themselves for the best possible spot in the playoffs that they can earn. Two teams are lucky enough to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They earn it in hopes that they will have that extra advantage over the visiting team. Whether it’s a cold weather team hosting a warm weather team or vise versa. If you are not lucky enough to gain a home playoff game, then you have to go on the road. That’s how it is in the playoff chase. You earn that right to be home if you play well enough and win more games then the team behind you. You EARN home field advantage.

When it comes to the Super Bowl, a team earns the right to play in the game by winning their conference championship game. They either earn that right by winning in their own stadium or they go into a stadium as a visitor and pull off the upset. The Super Bowl itself is the ultimate game and should be played in the best possible conditions making it fair to both teams that have earned a right to play in it. There should not be a risk that winter weather could be a deciding factor in the biggest game of the season. To think about a kicker slipping on snow or ice while attempting a game winning field goal or a quarterbacks pass being blown around before it can get to the receiver late in the game and kills a drive is just wrong. To think that the most important game of the season has a chance to be affected that way or end that way is just not right. It just isn’t how the Super Bowl should be played.

It’s true that I love to watch games in the snow. But those are games that are played during the regular season or the playoffs and if it happens to be bad winter weather on the date of a teams game, then it can’t be avoided because it’s part of the schedule. The same goes for playoff games in the winter weather. But again, those playoff games were earned by the home teams for what they accomplished during the regular season. If bad winter weather happens on those days the teams have to deal with it.

The Ice Bowl in Green Bay happened because the Packers earned the right to have that game in their stadium. As luck would have it on that day it was below freezing temps and ice on the field.

The tuck game between the Patriots and Raiders happened because the Patriots earned the right to have that game at home the same day as a major blizzard was going to happen.

The Bengals beat the Chargers in the 1981 Championship game because they earned it on the same day that the temperature was 58 degrees below zero with the wind.

How would it have felt if John Taylor slipped in an icy end zone and missed Joe Montana’s pass that won Super Bowl XXIII?

What if Scott Norwood’s field goal attempt was going wide right and a gusty winter wind blew it back to the left and through to win Super Bowl XXV?

Looking back over the last six years of weather in the New Jersey area around the week of February 14th, the average temperature has been around 30 degrees with the average wind about 10 miles an hour. Four of the last six years there was some snow/sleet in the area as well.

I just think it’s wrong to take the chance that the most important game of the season might be decided on winter weather. The Vince Lombardi trophy needs to be awarded to the best team on Super Bowl Sunday while being played under fair conditions because both teams earned that right.

LSS Extra Points: Special Visitor, Quotes and 50th Logo

Staubach Speaks

The Cowboys had a special guest speaker after practice today. Roger Staubach addressed the team and told them that if they pull together as a team anything is possible as reported by DallasCowboys.com.

“I just talked about having the right people in the right places and pulling together,” said Staubach. “That’s the big difference, pulling together. Miracles happen, you know?

“Back in ’71 that’s what happened to us. We were 4-3, complaining and yelling at each other and unnamed players saying it’s this fault, that fault. We had a team meeting and decided we were going to put everything aside, personal stuff, and start fighting for the team. We won 10 in a row.”

“I don’t want to jinx it,” (Speaking about the Super Bowl) but I think this is a really, really good football team and they have the capability, as does five or six teams in the NFL, that can win it all and this is one of them. They can do it. It’s a matter of giving a little extra and fighting. I think they have the attitude, too.”

“You get that feeling. There are a few quarterbacks that when they hit the field, you know something good is going to happen. When Troy (Aikman) was here I felt it, and I feel the same way about Tony. When he is on that field good things are going to happen. I think they have a heck of a quarterback in Tony Romo.”

“With Dez (Bryant), Felix Jones, (Jason) Witten, (Roy) Williams and Miles (Austin), I think I could still be playing on that team,” Staubach said jokingly. “They are some pretty good weapons. Towards the end of my career, we had Tony Hill to add to Drew (Pearson) and also Butch Johnson and (Tony) Dorsett coming out of the backfield. It’s nice to be able to have some extra. This talent they have, including Jones coming out of the backfield and Martellus Bennett looks good out there too, they have got some really good receivers so they have some people to throw the ball to.”

Brooking on Lee

Sean Lee is off to a good start when it comes to having the right teacher showing him how to play linebacker in the NFL. Keith Brooking while recovering from knee surgery has been watching Lee and likes what he sees as reported by ESPNDallas.

“He’s intense,” said Brooking, He reminds me a lot of myself”.

“We’ve just got to get him to slow down at times. The linebacker position, you play fast, but a lot of times, it’s slow to fast. You have to diagnose plays and get your read before you pull the trigger and roll. But he’s intense and all the ability is there. He has a lot of ability and he’s very eager.”

“There’s no ego there, so I’m willing to help a guy like that,” Brooking said. “He listens, and when I approach him, his ears open up and you can tell he’s very attentive. I know the coaches are very pleased with him, because he’s coachable”.

“When he makes a mistake, it means something to him. The learning curve is always there for a rookie, but he’s going around that curve right now, but he’s getting better each and every day.”

David Buehler

Seems as though the kicking job is David Buehler’s to lose. Wade Phillips believes Buehler is up to the challenge as reported by DallasCowboys.com.

“We know he has the leg strength,” Phillips said. “We are worried about him trying to over power it, but it looks like he’s got his stroke down. He’s doing a good job.”

“I think just being out in front of everybody, that’s a lot of pressure on him right now,” Phillips said. “If he holds up under that, I think he’ll be fine in the games.”

Marcus Spears Worried?

Spears was asked if he was worried that the Cowboys were looking to make either Jason Hatcher or Stephen Bowen the replacement for Spears this season as reported by DallasNews.com

“Maybe so,” Spears said. “But you know, all of that stuff is to be determined. I’m going to go into camp and fight hard and try to keep my starting job. Hatcher is going to try to be the starter and Bowen is going to try to do the same thing”.

“You know how I am, man. If they want Hatch or Bowen to start, they’ll start. If they want me to start, I’ll start. But I’m not caught up in that. If I’m starting or not starting, I’ve got to make the most of my time out there.

“I’ve dealt with this for a long time, bro. I was supposed to have lost my starting position three years ago. I guess it comes with the Marcus Spears territory.”

“I only know how to play one way,” Spears said. “If it’s not good enough for them, then it has to be good enough for somebody else”.

“I would like to think I’ve been playing at a pretty high level around here. We’ll find out.”

50th Anniversary Logo

Here is the new Cowboys 50th Anniversary logo that will be displayed on their uniforms this coming season.

Flashback: When Spring And Summer Football Was Fun To Watch

Spring and summer football leagues have come and gone over the years trying to keep our minds occupied during the off-season of the NFL. I’m sure we have all seen Arena football since it has been around for many years. It’s not really football in my opinion, but it is fun to watch. Then there was the World League that lasted quite a while, but I just could not get caught up in it. Then there was the XFL which was a joke from the start. Whether it was the World League, Arena League or XFL, I just could not get too involved or excited over the brand of football they put on the field. Nothing about the leagues made me want to sit down and know what was going on week after week. Or get to know the players and maybe even start cheering for a particular team.

There was one league many years ago during the spring that did grab my attention and I did become a huge fan of. A league that made the off-season of the NFL a little easier to cope with. Teams and players that came into my living room every weekend that I enjoyed watching. Teams like the Tampa Bay Bandits, NJ Generals, Philadelphia Stars, Birmingham Stallions, Michigan Panthers, Houston Gamblers, LA Express and many more. Saturday nights on ESPN and Sunday afternoons on ABC from around mid March to mid July. It was fantastic to see football at a time when there was no football.

Does anyone remember the USFL (United States Football League)?

Sure I might be showing my age here, but it seems like just yesterday I was watching Steve Young and the LA Express beat Herschel Walker and the NJ Generals 20-15 in the very first game played. Over the years I always think back to the USFL days and have great memories because of how much of a fan I was. To this day I can not find many people who loved the USFL like I did. The league only lasted three seasons from 1983 to 1985, but they were great seasons. The  USFL was a great brand of football and some of the most exciting games I have ever seen. Even to this day ESPN may show a replay of a USFL game. I have a few games on DVD that I still watch just to go back in time and relive the excitement of the league. The USFL did not get much support, but as a whole I think they did a lot of good for the game of football and made their mark on professional football.

The USFL brought in many players that were stars coming out of college like Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie, Steve Young and Mike Rozier. Other players became stars in the NFL after the USFL folded. Players like Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Sam Mills, Kelvin Bryant, Nate Newton and Anthony Carter. Established players left the NFL to sign with the USFL like Doug Williams, Joe Cribbs and Brian Sipe.

The USFL was a league that did battle during an 18 week schedule. Rivalries were born between the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and the NJ Generals as well as the Tampa Bay Bandits and the Birmingham Stallions. The USFL took themselves seriously when others did not. They incorporated the two-point conversion into their league as well as the use of instant replay. Those red flags you see thrown during NFL games were first used in USFL games. Many familiar names became coaches in the USFL like George Allen, Marv Levy, Steve Spurrier, Walt Michaels, Jack Pardee and Lee Corso.

As for myself, I became a fan of the Tampa Bay Bandits from the very start in 1983. Players like QB John Reeves, RB Gary Anderson, WR Eric Truvillion and head coach Steve Spurrier. They played competitive and exciting football every week and were considered one of the top teams in the league each season, but they were never were able to get to that next level come playoff time. That next level went to the Philadelphia Stars who became the Baltimore Stars in 1985. They made it the USFL Championship all three seasons. They lost in 1983 and then came back to win it in 1984 and 1985. They were coached my Jim Mora who had them playing at a high level without that big name player. Unlike the NJ Generals who brought in big name players like Brian Sipe, Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie. For those who don’t know, the Generals were owned by Donald Trump back then and he wanted badly to field a championship team. Although that did not happen for Trump and the Generals, they did have themselves a star in Herschel Walker. The Heisman Trophy winner from Georgia was by far the best player in the league as he rushed for 5,562 yards and 54 touchdowns in the USFL’s three seasons. In 1985 Walker rushed for an amazing 2,411 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The USFL did have many issues to deal with as far as debt, teams folding each season, teams merging, teams moving to new cities. They made their biggest mistake after the 1985 season when they announced that they would move their season to the fall starting in 1986 to compete with the NFL. The USFL filed a law suit against the NFL accusing them of being a monopoly and won the suit, but was only awarded $3. It was $1 for each of the three seasons the USFL played. Although the courts agreed that the NFL was a monopoly, it made it clear that the NFL became one through sound business practices. A month before they were going to start their fall season in 1986 the USFL decided to fold due to being millions of dollars in debt. It was a sad time because I loved the USFL, but I hated that they wanted to go against the NFL in the fall. It was a battle that they were not going to win because of how popular the NFL was. The smart thing would have been to stay in the spring and do more to improve the league.

The memories of the USFL will always be with me. The teams, the games, the players. It was a fun three years to watch football while the NFL was hibernating. The good news, at least for me is that I’ve read starting in the Spring of 2011 a new USFL will be starting up again with 10 to 12 teams. Some of those teams could also be setup in the same cities as the old USFL. Now if only they could have the same team names with the same helmets I know I would be happy. They say you can never go back, but I’ll sure try when it comes to the USFL.

You can find out more information on the USFL at the link below where my pictures came from. http://www.remembertheusfl.8m.com/

You can also keep up to date on the new USFL at the link below. http://www.newusfl.com/

Competition Will Make Wide Receivers Better

Competition seems to be the chosen word at the Cowboys OTA’s this week. From the offensive line, to the defensive line, to safety and onto the wide receivers. It’s the wide receiver position that has me intrigued this off season. The receivers from 2009 are all back, at least for now. One is looking for a new contract, two want trades and another just wants to shut everyone up. Then add in a player that some people are saying could be the most explosive receiver to come out of college in years. This all adds up to competition which will be great for the team and will make the receiving unit better.

1. Miles Austin…Last season was his breakout year as he became a starter in the 5th week of the season against the Chiefs. He totaled 81 receptions for 1,320 yards and 11 TDs. I have no worries that Jerry Jones will sign Austin to a long term contact that he is looking for and deserves. The Cowboys know they have something special with Austin and will not mess it up.

 2. Roy Williams…Not exactly a great year for Williams. It seemed as though as the year went on Romo stopped looking his way and he ended up with only 38 receptions for 596 yards. This off season Williams is once again saying the right things and saying how he and Romo are on the same page and how they are connecting more then last season during practice. But if I remember correctly Williams was saying how great he was connecting with Romo last off season. No one on the Cowboys is looking for Williams to fail, but I don’t see Williams on the team after the 2010 season.

“Last year around this time we were throwing and catching and it wasn’t very good. Just to be quite honest with you, we were missing balls, and bad throws and drops and all that in the offseason that carried over to the season,” Williams said.

  “But this year, we’re connecting like Montana and Rice. It’s night and day from last year so I know we’re expecting big things for both of us.”

                                                       

 3. Patrick Crayton…Since the Cowboys drafted Dez Bryant in last months draft Crayton has asked for a trade. I don’t see a trade happening, but if it does I don’t see the Cowboys getting much for him. Crayton is a good 3rd option and Romo likes to go his way, but he will never be more then a #3. That’s my opinion of course. I think the smart thing for Crayton to do is start showing up at practice and stay with the team. Unless of course he truly believes that the organization wants to go in another direction as far as the younger receivers. Is it a coincidence that there is another receiver on the Cowboys roster with the #84?

4. Sam Hurd…Hurd is a good special teams player, but will hardly get on the field as a receiver. He has also asked for a trade, but I doubt anything will happen there. I do see Hurd being released before the season starts because of some of the receivers that are behind him that are catching the coaches eyes.

5. Kevin Ogletree…Those of you who have read my posts and heard me in the chat room on game day know how I feel about Ogletree. I think given the chance this guy can shine big for the Cowboys. Not sure what it is, but there is just something that stands out with him. I don’t see him going anywhere and will continue to get more chances to show his stuff.

6. Dez Bryant…He was considered one of the most talented players in the draft this year and team after team passed on him. Enter the Cowboys who waited patiently before making a trade to land the talented receiver. He’s young, wants to learn and also is a like a little kid when you hear him speak about being a Dallas Cowboy and being around the players. The excitement in his voice is great to hear. He will be brought along slowly, but I look for big things out of him in his rookie season.

“There was one time when he (Romo) was explaining a play to me, I really didn’t care about the play. I was excited because he was talking to me.”

“It is a dream come true. I always wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy. … I’m trying to get past the excitement and just get ready and focus on football.”

 

 

Others on the roster

Rashaun Greer, Jesse Holley, Terrell Hudgins, Manuel Johnson, Titus Ryan, Verran Tucker…These receivers I will admit I know very little about except for Holley who is back a year after winning Michael Irvin’s 4th and Long show. Holley has speed and size. If he works out on special teams he might just replace Sam Hurd on the team. For those who remember Holley’s exciting punt return last preseason against the Vikings, knows that he has that spark that might just get him on the final roster. The others will have a chance to show their stuff to the coaches at the OTA’s and training camp.

It all comes down to competition. These receivers will become better knowing others are pushing them. All of them have something to prove. Whether it’s to themselves or to the coaches. I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out over the next few months.

Analyzing Alex Barron Trade; Keith Brooking Surgery Update

In the past few weeks, there has been a good deal of activity involving the Dallas Cowboys.

The first item of business is that Dallas traded inside linebacker Bobby Carpenter to the St. Louis Rams for offensive tackle Alex Barron.

Now, Bobby Carpenter is the only high draft pick made in the Bill Parcells era that truly was disappointing. He was a highly admired linebacker out of Ohio State, which is one of the premier college football programs.

Yet, in the four years he was here, he never was good enough for the coaches to give him the starting job. Some fans might say that Dallas never gave him a chance, but I disagree. You don’t draft a guy in the first round and not give him a chance. He had plenty of chances in preseason, in training camp, or in games where he had playing time.

There were questions about him being aggressive enough when playing. I can’t explain why he didn’t turn out to be a great player, but things like that happen.

I knew he was on his way out when Dallas drafted Penn State linebacker Sean Lee in the second round of the 2010 draft this past April.

Carpenter will get a chance to revive his career in St. Louis, while Dallas gets key offensive line depth.

I have every confidence in our offensive line, but the fact remains that if you don’t have a backup plan in the NFL, you are risking your team’s future.

The Dallas starters from left to right are: Doug Free at left tackle, Kyle Kosier at left guard, Andre Gurode at center, Leonard Davis at right guard, and Marc Columbo at right tackle.

However, our backups in Cory Proctor, Pat McQuistan, and Robert Brewster are either weak replacements or in Brewster’s case, unproven.

Dallas cut Flozell Adams this offseason due to his age, and the impact his salary would have this year. They have given Doug Free the chance to start at left tackle, but Jerry Jones, while he is a gambler at times, isn’t stupid.

Jones drafted offensive tackle Sam Young in the sixth round this past draft from Notre Dame, and completed the Carpenter trade for Alex Barron.

Barron was a first round draft pick for the Rams in 2005, one spot before Dallas’ Marcus Spears as a matter of fact, and he’s been solid. He has started in 74 out of 76 games he’s played in, and hasn’t been injured.

He’s 6-7, around 320, and tough. The problem he had last year was he was worse than our own Flozell Adams at false start penalties. He’s had 43 false start penalties in the pros. That is 215 total yards lost because this guy is moving before the ball is snapped.

Now, there may be some instances where a defensive lineman actually encroaches and Barron is wrongfully flagged, but not 43 times.

Still, Dallas is giving him a chance, and Barron has promised to stop the false starts. I don’t know if he’ll start. I doubt it unless he really shows up to training camp and just dominates the line of scrimmage because Free has earned his shot really, and I think Jerry Jones just wants to address depth.

In the end, I think the trade is a win for Dallas because even with his mistakes, I’d rather have Barron than the depth we have now starting in case a lineman gets hurt, and Bobby Carpenter was just going to waste away here.

Jerry Jones made a good trade here for the team.

Brooking’s Surgery

To view the lstest update on Keith Brooking’s knee surgery, please go here.

LSS Extra Points: One Goodbye and Many Excused Absences

As any Cowboys fan knows, the dog days of offseason are long and boring. Nearly every day you seek any news or rumors about your team and rarely come up with anything. Today I spent time with family and had a lazy day and what do you know, the Cowboys go and make a little rumble.

I know at least a handful of people who will be happy to hear this news…

The Cowboys have released Cory Procter. The 27-year old backup offensive lineman has been with in Dallas since 2005, though didn’t debut in the NFL until 2007. He only started in 13 career games, 11 of those in 2008 while filling in for the injured Kyle Kosier. How dare they break up the band, eh, who needs offensive line depth anyway?

In other news, Sam Hurd and Patrick Crayton both missed OTAs on Monday. Hurd was on scene but out while recovering from offseason thumb surgery. Crayton is still demanding a trade, but no one seems to be interested. Have you Hurd Crayton wants out of the big D?

Marcus Spears also missed the practice because of a scheduling conflict according to several sources. Whatever that means?

Keith Brooking, Stephen Hodge and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are all recovering from surgeries while Sean Lissemore and Scott Sicko are finishing up at college. Yes, okay they are excusable.

These workouts are voluntary but Coach Phillips made a good point saying… “Your competitors at your position are all here.” Okay so he’s no philosopher but you understand what he’s saying.

You can argue either way, veterans can miss the practices because they know the drills but at the same time the new guys, younger guys are there practicing, busting ass to steal your place on the roster. Practice makes perfect!

That’s all for now. Only 117 days until the 2010 season kicks off!

FMC’s Offseason Rant: Bobby Carpenter Edition

First thing’s first people, my favorite Cowboy of all time turned 41, Emmitt Smith. He’s one of the greatest. I’m not sure if anyone else goes through this but other people often have something to say about Emmitt. Either he never took a lot of punishment like other backs; he benefited from great offensive line; he lacked power; he wasn’t as good as Walter Payton or Barry Sanders, and so on and so on.

I can go on for a while with people who doubted or just plain didn’t like Emmitt, but some of it I have to agree with them. Like the great Dallas O-Line in the early 90’s, but then again a line is only as good as the running back. If we had one single back running most of the running plays not being split up like it is now, I’m sure Felix Jones would be cranking out Emmitt numbers, or something close to it.

I agree with anyone who didn’t like him as a commentator. I wasn’t in love with him. I’m not in love with Troy either. In fact, the broadcasting team that Moose is on kick’s ass! Moose should be the only Cowboy other then Michael Irvin to talk.

Back on subject, Emmitt took punishment. He didn’t? I got a game for you, 1993 Dallas Cowboys v. New York Giants. Emmitt dislocated his shoulder, left the game and then came back! Suck it Eli throwing in double coverage in the Super Bowl! That takes guts! I can go on and on about how great Catch 22 is but I’m not. Happy Birthday to the future Hall of Famer.

Now for my rant this week, it’s a very special one. It turns out that I have ESP, or something that Professor Xavier has on the X-Men, either way it’s awesome. I channeled myself into the shoes of someone who works in management over in Valley Ranch. He was talking to now ex-Cowboys linebacker Bobby Carpenter on why he was getting shipped off to St. Louie. Now don’t call any news anchors on what I’ve done, just be amazed…ok enough of that, just watch me act like an idiot while I make fun of Bobby C.

Enjoy, and LET’S GO COWBOYS!!!

FMC’s Offseason Rant: Bobby Carpenter

Questions & Concerns: Miles Austin, Red Zone, Safety, O-Line

David Moore, Cowboys beat writer for The Dallas Morning News, answered some questions about the team Thursday during a live chat which you can review in it’s entirety here.

I picked out some questions that I found very interesting and wanted to share on LSS.

Here’s my two cents: FS position doesn’t impact games unless you have a total stud. Having a mediocre one doesn’t hurt you as long as you have 3 good corners, and we do. I think the bigger issue on the Cowboys D, is the lack of defensive line depth if Ratliff, Ware, or Spencer get hurt. 1) do you agree this is a bigger issue 2) are there any FAs we may add for depth (Greg Ellis?)

I see your two cents and raise it two more. The Cowboys were a top defense last season while getting minimal impact from the free safety position. Would they have been a dominant defense if the free safety position had produced some turnovers? The Cowboys need to receive some benefit from all of the pressure they put on the quarterback beyond sacks. They need to come up with more turnovers to take the next step as a defense. The safety position is the logical place for that to come. That being said, you’re right. The Cowboys are in good shape with their three corners. But I’d argue their depth in the front seven is better than you think.

Do you think the Cowboys will pick up the safety O.J Atogwe after June 1st? 

If Alan Ball and Michael Hamlin don’t look good in the OTAs and mini-camp, the Cowboys will likely give Atogwe a more serious look. The Cowboys like him but feel the price to land him right now would be a bit high. But don’t rule it out.

Surely the Cowboys can’t be comfortable with our current kicking situation. Do you see them bringing someone with experience in during training camp? Who is out there available? 

No one will be brought in to start camp. The Cowboys are committed to seeing if David Buehler can get the job done. If camp wears on and it’s obvious that won’t happen, then I think you’ll see them bring someone in. But not before.

Shouldn’t we be concerned about the short yardage running game? It was terrible at times last year and Flo was arguably our best run blocker. Free is not know for his power, Gurode wasn’t getting leverage, and Garrett’s running toss sweeps with Barber to avoid powering up the middle. Not good.

That has been a point of emphasis for the Cowboys in the off-season. They know they must get better in the red zone. 

Our final problem seems to be one of attitude, at least for key playoff games. We have to prepare in a superior way to our competition. In other words, our game prep sucks in crunch time, we are out-coached to begin with and out coached at half time… across the board, are we doomed to make the playoffs and not close the deal!

What you describe is not a problem of attitude, it’s a coaching problem. I don’t share your pessimism about getting out-coached all of the time. Andy Reid and his staff certainly didn’t out-coach the Cowboys last season. Coaching is important, but the key ingredient is talent and performing under pressure. The Cowboys took a step forward in that last season. It’s time for them to take another step this season.

Is Jerry concerned that Miles will have a sophomore slump to his breakout year or something? Why aren’ t they paying him? Seems like he’s going to command Fitzgerald type money if he does it again this season.

He’s not concerned with a sophomore slump, but if you’re paying big money, don’t you want more than one year of outstanding production before you commit to a long term deal? That’s what makes these negotiations so difficult.

What do you think Hudson Houck can do with the crop of linemen he has now? Do you think he can turn Barron, Young, etc. into the level of player that he managed to turn Davis into? 

Jerry Jones will tell you he can. Jones mentioned again yesterday that he considers Houck one of the best offensive line coaches in the league, and pointed out that he is the highest paid.

What in your opinion do the Boys need to do to create more turnovers on defense? Whoever starts out of Ball or Hamlin, I just don’t see neither of them being “ball hawks” at the safety position.

This has been a point of emphasis for the last two seasons and virtually no progress has been made. It’s getting to the stage where you have to say this group doesn’t have the personnel necessary to create turnovers. Unless Ball, Hamlin or rookie Akwasi Owusu-Ansah comes through to help, the only way to produce more turnovers would be to change personnel. But ask yourself this: the Cowboys are a very good defense against the run and the pass. Do they risk upsetting that balance and leaving themselves vulnerable by putting too much of an emphasis on turnovers. This may just be their defensive identity.

Even if Felix starts over Barber and Barber goes back to the “closer” role, does Choice get more carries/touches this yr or about the same as last yr?

About the same as last year. I don’t see how he can carve out many more in this offense unless someone is hurt.

LSS Extra Points: Latest From Cowboys Land

Emmitt Smith

The last thing I want to do is wish summer away before it even gets here, but the Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and Bengals is less than three months away. It’s not so much the game I’m excited for, it’s the excitement of seeing Emmitt Smith going into the HOF. Emmitt Smith is my all-time favorite player and I’m going to enjoy watching him enter the Hall. There’s going to be lot of tears on that stage because that is how Emmitt Smith is. He is every emotional about things. One of my favorite things to watch is the moment Emmitt Smith and Daryl Johnston shared on the sidelines after Smith broke the NFL rushing record in 2002.

As reported by ESPNDallas.com, Emmitt Smith has chosen Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to be his presenter on August 7th. If Emmitt Smith’s speech is anything like Michael Irvin’s then there won’t be a dry eye in the house. There will be more about Emmitt in the coming months because he deserves all the praise in the world for being the best running back of all time.

Doug Free

The Cowboys new left tackle Doug Free is ready for whatever is thrown his way as the OTA’s begin next week. Especially since the Cowboys traded for Alex Barron this week. What makes players better is competition and Free knows that. Free replaced right tackle Marc Colombo last season for ten games and played very well, but all the so-called experts remember is how Free played in the playoff loss to the Vikings. I tend look at the overall picture and not just the one game. I do not believe that all season the Cowboys offensive line played well and then because of one game they all of sudden became a bad line. Let’s face it, the Cowboys ran into a better team that day in Minnesota. Whatever they tried to do didn’t work and things just kept getting worse for them as the game went on. If anyone remembers the move “The Replacements”, the quote from Keanu Reeves sums up the Vikings game very well for the Cowboys.

“You’re playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong (Adams getting hurt). And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can’t move… you can’t breathe… because you’re in over your head. Like quicksand”

Now Doug Free will move from the right side to the left side and he is ready for the competition that he will be facing as reported on ESPNDallas.com.

“I got a lot of hard work to put in and I’m obviously excited,” Free said. “Last year, getting a chance to play and I think playing pretty well, most people thought stuff like that, they definitely have some faith in me. It’s the other side of the ball [going from right to left], but I think I’ve proven that I can play.”

“The more people we got in the better, the better the competition, the better the offensive line,” Free said. “Like last year, with Marc going down, the more confidence you have, the better it is for your team.”

“Until you get out on the field and in a game situation in the regular season, you really don’t know what you’re getting into,” Free said. “So, getting out there [with] a chance to play was definitely an advantage for me. I couldn’t be more excited. Nobody plays to sit the bench, nobody plays to watch the games, everybody plays. They are working hard to play.”

Keith Brooking

Keith Brooking underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee three weeks ago, but should be ready for training camp come July as reported by ESPNDallas.com. The Cowboys know what Brooking can do and what a leader he has become for the defense, so I wouldn’t think they are worried about him missing the teams OTA’s. This will give the rookies and other young players like Sean Lee and Jason Williams a chance to show their stuff.

Roy Williams

Roy Williams has been saying all the right things when it comes to Dez Bryant and what he will add to the Cowboys offense. Let’s face it, Bryant is the Cowboys future and maybe the competition will do Williams some good after a not so good 2009 season. Williams announced that his dropped passes will be a thing of the past this season. He dropped eight passes in 2009 (Why did it feel like he dropped a lot more than that?). If Williams turns into the receiver that he believes he is and what the Cowboys believe he is, then it will just make things better for the entire offense.

“I bet anybody in this world I won’t be close to that [in 2010],” said Williams about his dropped passes in 2009

Preseason

In another month what will all the preseason magazines say about the Cowboys in 2010? Will they be Super Bowl favorites? Will they be a struggling team in the NFC East in 2010 because of all the changes in Washington or because the Giants are back? All I know is that the Cowboys have put themselves in great position to challenge for a home game in Super Bowl XLV.