My top ten Cowboys season openers

One of the best days of the year for football fans is when the NFL schedule is released every spring. Since that is still a few weeks away we were given a little treat yesterday about the Cowboys opening game. The announcement was made that the Cowboys will be opening the 2012 season on September 5th against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

It got me thinking about other opening day games for the Cowboys. There have been many for the Cowboys of course since 1960, so I’m only going to list my top ten since I have become a fan.

1982 – Cowboys lose to the Steelers, 36-28

In the Monday Night Football opener the Steelers came to Texas Stadium looking to continue their dominance over the Cowboys. With the Steelers glory days coming to an end, they still showed they had a little left as Terry Bradshaw, John Stallworth, Franco Harris and Jack Lambert helped the Steelers to a 33-14 fourth quarter lead. The Cowboys were led by Danny White, Tony Hill, Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson who put a good fight, but came up short in the end.

1983 – Cowboys beat the Redskins, 31-30

Monday Night Football opener as the Cowboys went to RFK Stadium to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Redskins. The Skins jumped out to a 23-3 halftime lead. Then Danny White led an incredible second half comeback as he connected with Tony Hill twice in the third quarter. White also threw another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as well as running one in. Tony Dorsett added 151 yards rushing and the Cowboys completed a 31-30 comeback.

1984 – Cowboys beat the Rams, 20-13

In a not so popular move Tom Landry selected Gary Hogeboom as the starting QB over Danny White to start the 1984 season. Hogeboom on Monday Night Football threw for 343 yards to help the Cowboys win in LA. He also received help from the Cowboys defense that held the Rams offense to 204 yards and collected five interceptions.

1985 – Cowboys beat the Redskins, 44-14

It was another Monday Night Football opener in Texas Stadium. The Cowboys jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead on the Redskins and never looked back. The Cowboys defense was dominate in the game as they collected seven turnovers, which included six interceptions and two were returned for touchdowns. Five of the interceptions came from Joe Theismann who was benched in the fourth quarter by Joe Gibbs. This game also happened to be Theismann’s birthday and as he sat on the bench towards the end of the game the Texas Stadium crowd began singing happy birthday to him.

1986 – Cowboys beat the Giants, 31-28

In their fifth straight Monday Night Football opener the Cowboys welcomed a new member to the team as they faced the Giants at Texas Stadium. Herschel Walker was signed in the off-season to join Tony Dorsett in the Cowboys backfield. He quickly went to work as he rushed for 64 yards and scored two touchdowns. The second touchdown won the game for the Cowboys late in the fourth quarter.

1989 – Cowboys lose to the Saints, 28-0

In Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman’s first game in the NFL things did not go well. Aikman was welcomed into the NFL and only managing 180 yards passing and two interceptions. The Cowboys rushing attack only managed 2o yards as the Saints put a beating on the Cowboys.

1992, Cowboys beat the Redskins, 23-10

In what would end up being a Super Bowl Championship season for the Cowboys, they opened their season on Monday Night Football against the defending Super Bowl Champion Redskins. In Texas Stadium Emmitt Smith rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown. Issiac Holt who was part of the blockbuster Herschel walker trade in 1989 blocked a Redskins punt out of the end zone early to get the Cowboys scoring going. Kelvin Martin added a punt return as the Cowboys dominated.

1995 – Cowboys beat the Giants, 35-0

Monday Night Football in Giants Stadium and it was Emmitt Smith who took his first carry of the season 60 yards for a touchdown and then added three more scores in the game. Smith would go on to a record breaking season of 25 rushing touchdowns and 1,773 rushing yards. The victory also started what would be the Cowboys journey to their third Super Bowl victory in four years.

1999 – Cowboys beat the Redskins, 41-35 in OT

The Redskins jumped out to a 35-14 third quarter lead at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium before Troy Aikman led an amazing comeback. Aikman threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Michael Irvin to go along with an Emmitt Smith touchdown run. Smith also rushed for 109 yards in the game. It was in overtime where the Cowboys newest member Rocket Ismail shinned. Not only did he catch eight passes for 149 yards in the game, but the last reception came in overtime as Aikman connected with Ismail who was wide open down the middle of the field and he scored easily from 76 yards.

2007 – Cowboys beat the Giants, 45-35

In Tony Romo’s first ever season opener as a starter he threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Cowboys to victory. Jason Witten added 116 yards receiving and a touchdown and Terrell Owens added 87 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants got close to the Cowboys at 38-35 in the fourth quarter, but when Romo connected with Sam Hurd for a 51 yard touchdown it sealed the game.

Things are looking up so far, but what’s next?

The Cowboys were true to their word about being aggressive in free agency this off-season. So far they have signed seven players. The biggest signing was cornerback Brandon Carr who takes over for Terence Newman. They also filled some holes with two offensive linemen (Bernadeau and Living’s), a backup quarterback (Orton), fullback (Vickers), linebacker (Connor) and safety (Pool). Time will tell if these moves were the right moves, but so far the Cowboys have received passing grades for most of their signings. So what’s next?

The Cowboys don’t seem to be finished with free agency with reports that they are now interested in current Packers linebacker Erik Walden, who they drafted in the 6th round back in 2008. Walden was released by the Cowboys before the season in 2008 and was claimed by the Dolphins where he played for three seasons before joining the Packers in 2010. If signed Walden, who is only 26 years old could provide more depth at outside linebacker for the Cowboys.

There is also a report that the Cowboys are looking into another Packers free agent Jarrett Bush. He is known for his outstanding special teams play, but could also add depth at cornerback. Outside of Brandon Carr, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick the Cowboys really have no depth at cornerback since Alan Ball and Frank Walker are unrestricted free agents. Bush who is 27 years old could bring more youth and experience to the Cowboys defense.

Next month is the NFL Draft and the Cowboys are holding the 14th overall pick. There are countless mock drafts showing the Cowboys picking an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, safety and cornerback. The real positive with the Cowboys signing so many free agents at key positions that it gives them the flexibility to go after the best player available with the 14th pick instead of going after need. Below are some of the players I’ve seen associated with the Cowboys and mock drafts.

DT – Mike Brockers, LSU

CB – Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

DT – Dontari Poe, Memphis

G – David DeCastro, Stanford

CB – Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

DT – Devon Still, Penn State

S – Mark Barron, Alabama

It looks as though many mock drafts are focusing on defense when it comes to the Cowboys. So where do the Cowboys go with that 14th pick? Do they continue to rebuild the defense? Do they continue rebuilding the offensive line? Do they trade down and get some additional picks? With all these options plus the free agents that have been signed so far it makes this year’s draft even more exciting. As a Cowboys fan how can you not be excited with what the team has done so far to try and improve. Sure it’s hard to say goodbye to players like Terence Newman (9 seasons) and Bradie James (9 seasons) who played their entire careers for the Cowboys. Also, Kyle Kosier who played six seasons after coming to the Cowboys in 2006. With the moves the Cowboys are making they are looking to get younger in many areas and hopefully bringing in the right mix of players so that they can get to the next level and start competing for another championship.

 

 

I Will Always Be A Bradie James Fan

I’ve been very fond of Bradie James for years now. You would often find me screaming, “I love me some Bradie” or simply “BRADDDIIIEEEE” during games and game chats.

Learning that the Cowboys issued a newly signed player the #56, really hurts. Bradie hasn’t even been released or moved on to another team yet. I understand the business, but I dont have to like it.

Bradie is a wonderful person and a great veteran leader, I wish him the best in everything he does. I will always be a fan.

Welcome to the family! (Updated)

After a slow first day in free agency for the Cowboys they have been busy filling holes and adding depth to the team. Here are the newest members of the Cowboys family.

Brandon Carr, CB

The biggest signing was cornerback Brandon Carr who signed for five years after spending his first four years in the league with the Chiefs. Carr, who is only 25 years old, will take the place of recently released Terence Newman. In Carr’s four years he has eight interceptions, four of them coming in 2011. Carr will team up with Mike Jenkins who is coming off an injury plagued season in 2011. With added youth to the Cowboys secondary in Carr plus his big play ability the Cowboys secondary should improve in 2012.

“From the moment they came and got me to the moment I got to the stadium, it was just red-carpet treatment,” Carr said. “They showed they wanted me. They were genuine with their words. That played a part in the process and my decision-making. The stadium is phenomenal – the best in the world. I’m excited to get in the uniform, get in the stadium and get to work.”

“I’m ecstatic. It’s been a long, long time and I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” Carr said Wednesday in between signing his contract and watching more tape with the defensive coaches. “To not only secure myself financially, but also to elevate my game to be at the highest level, which is the Dallas Cowboys. Now it’s time to turn my game up another notch.”

Kyle Orton, QB

The Cowboys added a quality backup to Tony Romo in Kyle Orton who signed a three year contract. With the retirement of John Kitna this off-season the Cowboys needed to bring in someone who would be ready to take over in the event of an injury to Romo. Although Stephen McGee has done a nice job filling in for Romo when called on, the Cowboys felt that more was needed. In Kyle Orton, who is 29 years old they get an eight year veteran who has started for the Bears, Broncos and Chiefs. He has thrown for over 14,000 yards in his career, twice throwing for over 3,000 yards in 2009 and 2010. He has also thrown 80 touchdowns and only 57 interceptions. Orton provides the Cowboys with a quality backup with the experience needed to get the job done if called upon.

Lawrence Vickers, FB

With the possible loss of fullback Tony Fiammetta the Cowboys went out and signed 28 year old Lawrence Vickers to a two year contract. Vickers played his first five seasons in Cleveland before moving onto Houston last season where he led the way for Adrian Foster’s 1,200+ yards rushing.  With Fiammetta in the lineup last season the Cowboys rushing game seemed to be at its best and then seems to take a nose dive after he went out for a few games with an inner ear problem.  Hopefully with the experience of Vickers as a lead blocker the Cowboys rushing attack with return to what it was with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones.

Makenzy Bernadeau, G

With the interior of the offensive line in question the Cowboys went out and signed guard Makenzy Bernadeau from the Panthers to a four year contract. Bernadeau spent his first four seasons with the Panthers and started 20 games. He is only 26 years old and will battle for a starting job with players like David Arkin, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski. Other players like Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery are unrestricted free agents and may not return to the team.

Brodney Pool, S

Brodney Pool comes over from the NY Jets where he played the last two seasons. He played his first five seasons with the Browns. At 27 years old Pool brings more youth to the Cowboys secondary to go along with newly signed Brandon Carr. Pool played for Rob Ryan in Cleveland in 2009 where he had a career high four interceptions. The Pool signing may also signal the end for Abe Elam who was signed last year to a one year contract and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Pool signed a one year contract with the Cowboys.

Dan Connor, LB

Dan Connor comes over from the Panthers where he has played since 2008 and started 19 games. Eleven of his 19 starts came in 2011. At 26 years old Connor brings more youth and experience to the linebackers as well as depth. Adding Connor means competition with Bruce Carter for the other inside linebacker spot next to Sean Lee. Conner played with Sean Lee while both were at Penn State.  It also could mean that veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James, who are unrestricted free agents, will not be asked back. Terms of Connor’s contract have not been disclosed yet.

 

Nate Livings, G

The Cowboys continue to add to their interior line with the signing of guard Nate Livings from the Bengals. Living’s has played with the Bengals since 2006 and has started every game the last two seasons. At 30 years old Living’s brings more experience to the offensive line and hopefully added protection for Tony Romo. He was signed to a five year contract.

 

The Cowboys also lost a few players through Free Agency. Laurent Robinson who caught everyone’s eyes in 2011 including Tony Romo’s has signed with the Jaguars. His offensive production will be missed by the Cowboys, but the Jaguars offered him $32.5 million over five years and that price was just too much for the Cowboys. The Cowboys will give a good look at current players Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris as the third receiver. There have also been rumors that they will reach out to free agent receiver Early Doucet.

The Cowboys also lost backup tight end Martellus Bennett who signed with the division rival Giants. Bennett never really performed at the level that the Cowboys had hoped for when he was drafted. As for the fans most saw Bennett as a comedian who never took things seriously.

So far the Cowboys have done a nice job in free agency trying to fill some holes on offense and defense. The NFC East will once again be very competitive and the Cowboys will need to be improved to keep up. With the draft a little over a month away the Cowboys hope to improve even more as they are currently sitting with the 14th pick overall.

 

Carr, Orton and Pool In… Robinson, Newman and Buehler Out…

There’s a lot of stuff going on today, so pay attention…

The Dallas Cowboys have signed formerNew York Jets safety Brodney Pool, coach Jason Garrett said during a Thursday morning conference call.  Terms were not disclosed.

Pool played for the Jets the last two seasons and was credited with four quarterback hurries, three pass breakups and one interception last season. Garrett said the team wanted to sign Pool last year, during the brief free agency period, but was unable to due to finances.  “He has some really good ball skills,” Garrett said.

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The Cowboys signed quarterback Kyle Orton to replace the retired Jon Kitna as the backup to Tony Romo. Coach Jason Garrett was happy to add Orton saying,

“He’s going to be ready to play. Line one when you’re evaluating a backup quarterback is the ability to go in and play and help your team win and we feel like he can do that, but he also brings a lot of other things to our team, leadership, understanding of what his role is and I think he can help us in a lot of different ways. We felt like he was one of the premiere quarterbacks out there in free agency.”

Damn, that’s what I call pouring it on thick…

* * * * * * * *

The Cowboys visited with Carolina free agent linebacker Dan Connor on Wednesday and those talks will continue today, coach Jason Garrett said.

“We’re excited to meet with Dan Connor, a Penn State guy, drafted by Carolina. He’s the right kind of guy, a very productive player for them, and a very productive player in college,” Garrett said. “We’ve had a good visit with him so far and we’ll get the chance to visit with him more today and just see where we are and where he is and continue along with this process.”

On the subject of linebackers, veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking won’t be back.  Sean Lee who is coming off a breakout 2011 season, may benefit from the addition of Dan Carter as both were teammates at Penn State.

I’d take Connor in a heartbeat… Or in half a heartbeat…

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The Cowboys finally addressed one of their biggest deficiencies of the last four seasons, and stepped up big-time signing free agent cornerback Brandon Carr to a reported five-year, $50 million contract on Wednesday, making him one of the highest paid players at his position.

It’s about freaking time!

“We’re fired up,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “He’s a great guy. We loved him on tape. We got the right corner.”

Carr, 25, is a 6-foot, 207-pounder bruiser that intercepted eight passes during his first four NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He had four interceptions last year and has broken up 59 passes in the past three seasons.

“I’m very excited,” Carr told the Cowboys’ official website on Wednesday. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time. I’m humble. I’m grateful to be here. I’m blessed to be in this situation. I was blown away,” said Carr, who mentioned that he’s always been a Cowboys fan.

Somebody pinch me, I think I’m dreaming…

See ya, T-New… Don’t let the door slam your ass on the way out….

* * * * * * * *

Finally, I was sad to learn that wide receiver Laurent Robinson will not be Cowboy next season and that he signed a five-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 🙁

Robinson emerged as the Cowboys’ third receiver last season and led the team with 11 touchdown catches. Robinson said he would have loved to return to play for the Cowboys, but owner Jerry Jones never made a move to keep him in Blue and Silver.

The pressure will be on next season for Dez Bryant and Miles Austin… You better believe it…

You already know that Bueler was cut, so….

Busy day in Cowboys Land…

Cowboys Cut Kicker David Buehler

As the Cowboys begin to posture and create room for signing some free agents, kicker David Buehler was released today according to a team spokesman.

Buehler was scheduled to count more than $1.6 million against the Cowboys’ 2012 salary cap, and he was viewed as a luxury on the roster and not a necessity.

Releasing him frees up more money for the team to pursue free agents with the NFL’s free agency period opening at 3 p.m. today.

Buehler lost his place kicking job last season to undrafted rookie Dan Bailey from Oklahoma State who will now handle kickoffs, extra points and field goals for the Cowboys.

There’s a rumor floating around that T-New could become a casualty as well.

Who Would Leave You Starstruck?

How many Dallas Cowboy fans have met a player and was so in awe that you where Starstruck?

My granddaughter asked me if I had ever met a player and if I passed out. Well, I didn’t pass out, but close to it when my parents surprised me by being taken back stage when Danny White was singing in Tulsa.

I couldn’t speak.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Daryl Johnston and I talked to him about the picture I brought to sign of his first touchdown.

Another time, Ken Norton Jr. asked me about my Zuba pants when he was signing my football card, and Nate Newton was a sweetheart when he signed a picture for me.

That made me wonder, what player would actually leave me Starstruck now?

I would have to say it probably would be Emmitt Smith, Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware. I don’t think I would be speechless, but I sure would be shaking in their presence.

What we want to know is which current or past player would leave you Starstruck?

Tell us your Starstruck stories.

I know I am not the only fan that has had that experience, so please share your own experiences with us. I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Cowboys fans can relate to what Colts fans are going through right now

With the release of Peyton Manning from the Indianapolis Colts yesterday it brought back memories of February 27, 2003. That was the day Jerry Jones released Emmitt Smith from the Cowboys after 13 seasons. Both Emmitt Smith and Peyton Manning did so much for their teams, their cities and the fans. Although it was a business decision for both players, as a fan it hurts to see a player that meant so much to their teams be released. Cowboy’s fans can relate to what Colts fans are going through right now. They are hurt, they are angry, they feel an overwhelming sense of pride that their QB gave everything to their team for many years. They remember the growing pains that led to the rewards. It was the same with Emmitt Smith when he was released. Chances are it’s going to hurt even more when Manning puts on the jersey of the team that signs him. But at the same time fans of Manning are going to wish him well and cheer for him as his career continues on. Some fans may even go as far as cheering against the Colts if Manning should ever play against them.

Cowboy’s fans were lucky enough to watch Emmitt Smith break Walter Payton’s career rushing record in his final season with the Cowboys in 2002 before being released. When Smith put on the Arizona Cardinals uniform it was a site that was very strange to say the least, but I knew the cheering would continue as he moved on with his career and Cowboys fans remembered all the great times. Emmitt Smith played two seasons for the Cardinals. In 2003 he suffered through many injuries and only rushed for 256 yards. But his final season for the Cardinals he rushed for 937 yards and 9 touchdowns before retiring from the NFL.

 

Emmitt Smith retired from the NFL as a Dallas Cowboy and walked into the Hall of Fame as a Dallas Cowboy.  I’m sure that the same thing will happen when Peyton Manning decides to retire. Manning will go out as a member of the Colts because he will always be a Colt just like Emmitt Smith will always be a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

So to all the Peyton Manning fans out there who are hurting right now; Remember Manning for everything he did while he was part of the Colts. You all had the privilege of watching a player grow and lead and become one of the best quarterbacks of all time who led the Colts to a World Championship. And five years after he retires from the NFL as an Indianapolis Colt he will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as an Indianapolis Colt.

 

 

Cowboys Notes: Spencer Get Franchise Tag, Bounty Hunting, Cowboys Reach Out To Brooking

The Cowboys tried to work out a long-term deal with outside linebacker Anthony Spencer the last few weeks but couldn’t complete one, so instead of allowing him to hit the open market, the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on him. Spencer will get a projected $8.8 million in base salary for the 2012 season, barring a sudden change in the franchise tag. The Cowboys will continue to negotiate with Spencer on a longterm deal.

Jason Garret was pleased by the move. “You compare him to guys around the league who play his position, he’s among the better outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense. We’re excited to have him back and be a part of what our defense is going to be.”

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said the bounty program that has been exposed in New Orleans isn’t an issue here. “It’s never really been an issue for our team,” Garrett said. “That’s not something we have done.

Garrett said he doesn’t recall a bounty system with any team he’s been associated with as a player or coach. But Darren Woodson, who was part of the Cowboys Super Bowl run in the 1990s along with Garrett, has said the defensive players on those teams put money in a pot and distributed it after games.

“I can’t speak to that comment,” Garrett said. “I’ve never been on a team where there has been anything that has been systematic or standing in meetings, doing anything like that.”

For those who may not know, putting a bounty on someone is when the opposing defense conspires before hand to put a hurting on one of the opposing players in the game. Typically they would throw in some money and the player who took out the opposing player would get the loot.

Don’t count out Keith Brooking’s return to the Cowboys.  The 36-year-old linebacker said on CBS 11’s The Score that the Cowboys have expressed interest in re-signing him.

The interest is mutual. Brooking believes he can still contribute to an NFL team and wants to finish his career with a contender. He believes the Cowboys are in that category despite missing the playoffs the last two seasons.

“I would love to re-sign with Dallas,” Brooking said. “I feel like this team, I feel like we’re really close.”

The roles of Brooking and longtime starter Bradie James were greatly reduced with Sean Lee’s emergence last season. Jones told reporters that Brooking and James, who are both free agents, shouldn’t be lumped together as far as their potential futures with the teams. It appears that was a hint that the Cowboys were interested in bringing back Brooking, who embraces the mentor role, but not Bradie James.