Cowboys Are Home Underdogs Against The Giants, But I Smell An Upset

The Dallas Cowboys managed to win their way back to .500 last week, but a true test of their quality going forward will come this Sunday when the first-place New York Giants come to town.

The Cowboys made their way to 3-3 last week with a 19-14 road cover at Carolina that, based on this week’s NFL odds, has left bettors unimpressed. Depending on where you look, the Giants (5-2) are laying up to 1.5 points as road favorites.

Dallas may be deserving of its home ‘dog status this week. The Cowboys failed to inspire much confidence when scoring just one touchdown against the lowly Panthers last week and they now have several key injuries to deal with. In addition to running back DeMarco Murray being out another week, the Cowboys will be without their defensive captain—inside linebacker Sean Lee—against the Giants and beyond. On top of that, center Phil Costa—who had spearheaded the Cowboys’ running game since returning from injury—suffered a dislocated ankle and will also be out for significant time.

When forming this week’s NFL picks one would duly note the Cowboys went into New York and beat the defending Super Bowl champions in Week One, 24-17, as 3.5-point road underdogs. Since then Dallas has been as inconsistent as any team in the NFL.

The Cowboys’ defense took a big step forward in the win against Carolina, however. It held Cam Newton and the Panthers offense in check, thanks in large part to a secondary that’s evolving into one of the better pass-coverage units in the league.  Dallas will have to continue that momentum to have a chance when Eli Manning and company come to town Sunday.

This game figures to go a long way in determining the fate of this year’s Cowboys. It will likely come down to their ability to withstand the injury issue and how quarterback Tony Romo and the offense can respond. Those questions loom large and make the Cowboys a risky proposition this week.

That said, this is why you play the games. There’s no accounting for the human element. Although the odds look like they’re stacked against the Cowboys, the home crowd could fire them up, one or two players can rise to the occasion, the opposition can choke. We’ve seen this time and time again. Sometimes this team plays their best football when their backs are up against the wall.  I smell a big upset in this game and believe that ‘Boys will rise to the occasion.

Go Cowboys!

The Coalter Report: Dallas vs. Panthers

What Went Right

The Cowboys on Sunday against the Panthers displayed the ability to overcome diversity. This is a trait that every great team in the last decade has shown, and it is great to finally see a glimmer of it in our team. As Sean Lee came out of the game with an ankle injury, we lost not only our leading tackler, but our defensive general as well. However, Dan Conner stepped right up to the plate and managed to stifle the Panthers running game while maintaining the middle of the field. When our unlucky center left to the sidelines, previous offensive line savior, Ryan Cook filled his teammate’s huge shoes and bulldozed a pathway for Phillip Tanner and Felix Jones to run through. In previous seasons, an injury to either position would throw us into chaos, but not this year. We have the deepest team we have been able to field in years, with young players full of potential playing behind proven veterans.

What Went Wrong

Carr was beat all day by both Brandon LaFell and Steve Smith. He seemed to be a step behind every route ran his way and was never in a position to make a play on a ball. Romo started out with a hot arm, but was quickly cooled by the Panthers pass rush, and was unable to be consistently accurate. Our offensive line continues to be manhandled by any and every defensive lineman lined up opposite of them. Doug Free is still regressing, and it is only a matter of time before Jerry Jones moves on to a younger player with more potential.

Player of Focus

Jason Witten:

After watching Witten play for years, it still blows my mind how team after team, year after year, cannot cover him. He is not the most physically talented tight end in the league. He could make a race against a glacier competitive, and runs his routes as curvaceous as Jennifer Lopez. Yet despite this, he has not only become the most prolific pass catcher in Dallas Cowboys history, but has maintained a presence as one of the better blocking ends in the last decade. He may not be the flashiest at his position, and may never lead the league in touchdowns or average 15 yards a catch. However, I would take his well-balanced, and team inspiring toughness, over any of his younger one dimensional counterparts.

Dallas Cowboys A Road Favorite Against Carolina Panthers

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had a great game against the Ravens, but the team fell short in 31-29 loss.

After letting a potential win against the Baltimore Ravens slip through their grasp Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys will hit the road to take on the Carolina Panthers as a 2.5-point favorite in the Week 7 NFL odds.

Dallas actually played one of its better game of the season last week when handily outgaining the Ravens and in complete control of time of possession. It still didn’t matter. Baltimore clung to a 31-29 win to drop the Cowboys to 2-3 this season.

Dallas was led by a ground attack that racked up 227 yards and also received a bounce-back performance from quarterback Tony Romo, who finished 25 of 36 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Baltimore. Perhaps even more encouraging for the Cowboys was wide receiver Dez Bryant had his first breakout game of the season with 13 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

That’s the good news. The flip side is the Cowboys continue to sabotage their chances at winning by mistakes and questionable coaching decisions. In Carolina they will be further hampered by the loss of starting running back DeMarco Murray, who looked great when running 14 times for 93 yards before going down against the Ravens.

In the post-game aftermath, head coach Jason Garret and Cowboys players chose to focus on the positives. There were certainly enough encouraging signs, but this is a results-oriented league and the Cowboys have never really showed that killer instinct under Garrett.

Carolina may be an ideal opponent for the Cowboys following such a disappointing loss as they have struggled through a 1-4 start to the season. The positives working for the Panthers are they managed to play a pair of potential playoff teams close in their last two games and will have two weeks to prepare for the Cowboys following their bye.

With that said, Dallas remains easily the better team on paper and it’s getting that time of the season to either put up or shut up. Look for the Cowboys to take out some frustrations against the struggling Panthers as one of the NFL picks of Week 7.

Is Jason Garrett more Princeton material then NFL head coach material?

After two days I’m still trying to figure out what the Cowboys were doing when trying to set up for the potential game winning field goal against the Ravens. Does the blame fall on Jason Garrett or Tony Romo or maybe both of them? I saw no sense of urgency from the Cowboys offense after Dez Bryant caught the one yard pass with 20 seconds left and one timeout remaining. I saw players standing around, I saw Bryant arguing with the official. To me it seemed as though everyone was looking towards the sidelines wondering what to do next. In that situation I wish Romo would have either got the offensive unit up to the line to clock the ball or call the timeout right away instead of letting it run down to three seconds. Even if the offense didn’t have another play ready (which they should have) the smart thing would have been to rush the players to the line so that Romo could spike the ball. Then there is probably about 15 seconds left and the Cowboys still have their one timeout left. Then they could run almost any play they wanted to get Dan Bailey closer. It was poor clock management by Garrett and there are no excuses in my opinion. Garrett says that Ogletree and Austin ran vertical routes and it would have taken them longer to get back to lineup. Then that falls on Garrett for calling a horrible play with so little time left on the clock. I want Romo as the true leader of the offense, with the game situation at that time to take control and know what to do instead of looking towards the sidelines for answers from Garrett. I’m not really blaming Romo since he is only doing what the coaches tell him to. In those situations I wish Romo would just stand firm no matter what the coaches will think and quickly make a decision on his own instead of waiting for his own coach to make a decision as the clock to running down. Seriously, what’s going to happen? Does anyone believe that Garrett would bench Romo for making a quick decision like that?

It’s almost as though Garrett coaches scared sometimes. I would hope his only thought in that situation is to get his team closer for the field goal attempt and not thoughts of an offensive penalty or a sack or a turnover. As the head coach you not only have to be aware of the situation, but you also need to be aggressive and be ready. There is no time for Garrett to be learning on the job for the Cowboys. He needs to be prepared no matter what situation comes up.

“We had the one time out, so we had the ability to throw the ball inside,” Garrett said. “Tony was going to get them on the ball as quickly as he could, knowing that we had that one in our hip pocket, and try to get a play run, knowing that we could throw the ball anywhere we wanted with the timeout. It just took too long for everybody to get un-piled. It got down to the single digits, so we said ‘take it down to four seconds and bang the timeout.”

Un-piled? Where exactly did Garrett see a pile? There was never any pile after the Bryant completion.

“The urgency to get back is critical in that situation,” Garrett said. “We have to do a better job in that situation, and it starts with me.”

There was no urgency from anyone. That is the main concern. Why did it seem like everyone was looking towards the sidelines for what to do next?

“They chose to bring pressure and we got the ball out quickly to Dez,” Garrett said. “The initial thought process was try to get everyone back on the line of scrimmage as quickly as we can and, at minimum, clock the ball. And if everyone gets back quickly, we can call a play and then we’ll save the timeout for the final kick. Having said that, when you have those combinations up and you have some people running away from the line of scrimmage, it’s going to take them longer to get back. When I look at that as a coach, I say, ‘OK, I like the answers, but one of the issues is we have two receivers running vertically down the field and it’s going to take too much time for them to get back.’ So that’s my responsibility. I made that play call and I’ve got to do a better job of that.”

“You keep working on it and keep learning from it,” Garrett said. “I think we won four of five games last year in the last second or overtime, in similar-type situations, so the idea is to handle them that way every time. Those guys get paid on the other side too, and we’ve got to make sure we handle situations when we think we’re going to be able to get this.  To be able to make a good play, you have to respond better. The more you put your team in that situation in practice, the more you learn from not only your game experience, but the situations that happen around the league, the better your going to get at it.”

Right now the Cowboys are 2-3 and are last in the NFC East. Next week they travel to Carolina in what can only be seen as a must win game. Falling to 2-4 will be crushing for the Cowboys with teams like the Giants, Falcons and Eagles coming up.

At this point I don’t see Garrett progressing as a head coach. Maybe he will, but how many more games will the Cowboys lose at the expense of Garrett not doing a better job when it comes to clock management. Maybe Garrett was Princeton material, but right now I don’t think he is NFL head coach material. I was going to say that I don’t believe Garrett is in any jeopardy of losing his job after this season if it ends badly, but after reading Jerry Jones latest quote I’m not so sure anymore.

“We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on in to the end of the season. We know that we’ve played one division game and won it. We’ve got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that’s going to be a big game for us. All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into — if you look at the pluses yesterday — evolving into a team that can be a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year.”

Wait, compete for the championship this year?

“Correct,” Jones responded. “Correct. Let me emphasize that. I’m not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come. It’s this year.”

Like I said in my last article, there is a common thread over the last few seasons as players and coaches continue to say they need to learn and get better. At this point I’m still waiting for that to happen and I guess so is Jerry Jones!


Lone Star Struck joins Google Sports Network

I just wanted to share with our fans some pretty cool news.  First, it’s not everyday you get an email from a Google employee about a pretty awesome opportunity.  Google contacted us in regards to a recent partnership with the NFL to engage fans even better than before.  They created the Google Sports Network so that Google can reach out to sites like us for opinions and other fan-related stuff.  Right now, we are the ONLY FANSITE that represents the Dallas Cowboys within the Google Sports Network.  From the discussions I’ve had with Google, we were essentially hand-picked.

Like I said, you don’t get an email from Google and pass up an opportunity like this.  What we will be doing is beefing up our Google+ (Google Plus) usage and eventually will be starting a Google Plus hangouts as well.  If you are already on Google Plus and have us added to your circles, great.  Share us with your friends!  If you haven’t added us yet or haven’t checked out Google Plus, you definitely should.

Click on the G+ Icon in the top-right area of our page!

New LSS Writer: Coalter Thornton

Hello fellow Dallas Cowboy fans. I am a new addition to the writers here on Lone Star Struck. My goal as a writer is to give Dallas Cowboy loyalists articles that illustrate my take on the players, coaches, and events that surround our team.      I am privileged to be part of the greatest fan base in sports and hope to contribute insightful articles to the community.

                Despite our recent lack of playoff success, we do have a legacy that rivals any team in the NFL. This is why I think that the team, this year, will do something great. We have a great core of skill players, a passionate young coach, and a General Manager who has three Superbowls managing this team. We have a quarterback, Tony Romo, that is almost always in the top ten among his position in yards and touchdowns. The running back has the potential to be our best since Emmitt Smith, with his combination of piston legs, and a stiff arm that rivals Tyson’s right hook. The receiving core has as many weapons as Borderlands 2, and more speed than the next “Fast and Furious” movie.  Our pass defense has revamped from a cheese wedge full of holes for offenses to attack, to a wall of hands, deflecting passes like my mother slapping my wrist away from the last piece of cherry pie. Demarcus Ware is still the sack machine, and with Jay Ratliff back, he should only increase his numbers.

                We are the fans of “Americas Team,” so no matter what the outcome of the game on Sunday is, keep hope and continue to support our players and coaches.

Big Game For The Cowboys Against Ravens In Week 6

Things are not looking good for the Tony Romo led Dallas Cowboys this year.  Many believed that they would be the team to beat in the NFC East this year, but that does not look to be the case as they are already 2-2.  They have a really tough game this week in Baltimore against the Ravens and look like they will need everything they have to get the win.

One of the biggest reasons for the Cowboys dismal performance this year has been their subpar offense.  Tony Romo has not been playing up to his usual elite level in the league and his age is starting to show.  In the Cowboys game against the Bears two Monday nights ago, they could not get anything going and Romo threw five interceptions on the day.  This does not bode well for them in week 6 as they have to play a Ray Lewis led Ravens defense that has twelve turnovers in just five games.  Hopefully Romo and his team used their BYE week in week five to try to get some game plans together for this game.  If not, they could be looking a losing record early in the season.

Luckily for the Cowboys, their defense has looked solid this year despite such a weak offensive start.  They will need to hold strong against a Ravens team that was struggling to get points on the board against a terrible Chiefs defense this past Sunday.  Getting to quarterback Joe Flacco and forcing turnovers is the key to a Cowboys win in week 6.  If they cannot do this, the Ravens will certainly be able to get the ball to Ray Rice, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin for huge plays.

The Cowboys need to make some big adjustments to win this week in Baltimore.  They are still a good choice as one of your NFL picks on the week, but they need to dig deep if they want the win against the Ravens.

Blue Star Report: Impending Doom?

The Dallas Cowboys continued to stake their claim as the most puzzling/inconsistent/under-achieving team in the NFL Monday night, losing at home to the Chicago Bears 34-18.

Dallas now gets a bye week off to figure something out before playing at Baltimore and at Carolina. And if the Cowboys can’t get their running game back in gear, or their wide receivers in the right places, or their QB to stop throwing interceptions, this season might be over with sooner rather than later.

Monday Night Review

Dallas put on one of its patented puzzling performances Monday night in losing to Chicago. Tony Romo threw five interceptions, although at least two of those were not his fault, the running game produced just 41 yards and the defense made Jay Cutler look like an All-Pro.

So the Cowboys, at 2-2, are tied for second place in the NFC East with Washington and New York, a game back of 3-1 Philadelphia.

Dallas also hasn’t done any favors for its financial backers on weekly NFL picks, losing its last three games vs. the NFL betting odds.

The off-week does offer up time to heal a couple of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and maybe by the time the Ravens game rolls around WR Dez Bryant will have figured out where he’s supposed to be on hot routes. Maybe.

The Next Opponent

Baltimore is 3-1 heading into a game at Kansas City this Sunday. The Ravens, running a no-huddle for much of their first four games, rank second in the league in offense at 424 YPG, although the defense, playing without LB Terrelle Suggs, ranks 23rd, allowing 390 YPG. Baltimore’s lone loss was a 24-23 decision at Philadelphia.

Looking Ahead

We don’t want to paint too bleak a picture, but if Dallas isn’t ready for its upcoming stretch of games its season could be in jeopardy. The Cowboys visit the Ravens Oct. 14, then the Panthers Oct. 21, then host the Giants, then play back-to-back road games at Atlanta and at Philly. And let’s face it, Dallas might be very fortunate just to win two of those games, and its record in the latter portions of seasons recently is not good.

The Cowboys do not want to be below .500 heading into a December stretch of games against the Eagles, Bengals, Steelers, Saints and RG III-led Redskins.

A new season brings the same old story for the Cowboys

So who are the 2012 Dallas Cowboys? Currently they sit at 2-2 after a Monday Night beating by the Bears 34-18. They now enter their bye week with games against the Ravens, Panthers, Giants, Falcons and Eagles coming up. With the way they are playing they could easily go winless against those teams as they go into the middle of November.

Once again I find myself scratching my head trying to figure this team out. I have the same questions I’ve had every season since 2008. They are the model of inconsistency. They go out week one and play a great game against the defending champion Giants and then go to Seattle and get crushed. Then they win a close game against the Buccaneers and then of course the loss to the Bears last night. Once again it looks to be another roller coaster season for the Cowboys. Are they just an average team with a few above average players who have a good game every now and then? Maybe they are just not good enough to deal with the elite teams in the NFL on a weekly basis.

What is wrong with this team and why do they seem to go through the same things year after year? Other teams in the league seem to put everything together with far less talent. Is it the players, coaches, owners?? Is it a combination of everything in the Cowboys organization? What is certain is that there is a black cloud hovering over this team that just won’t go away. As a fan I can only write about what I see and what I’ve seen are the same things that have plagued the Cowboys year after year recently. It just always seems to be the same story with this team as each season passes.

Here is what I see from the Cowboys. And keep in mind this over the last five seasons, not just this season…

– Lacking intimidation on offense, defense and special teams

– Conflicting comments coming from the head coach and the owner as well as players

– Unable to play four quarters consistently

– Dropped passes

– Penalties

– Over throws, fumbles and interceptions

– Lack of focus

– No imagination on offense

– No identity on offense

– Confusion on defense

The 2012 season can easily spiral out of control in the next month and a half. I understand that many teams go through a lot of the things that I have listed above about the Cowboys, but I’ve also seen a lot of those teams work through their issues and move on to compete for championships. With the Cowboys it’s always the same old story. Learn from things that happen, improve and get better is what the team says. But how many years can that be said before they finally learn and get better? When is it time to do it instead of saying it year after year? I for one am sick and tired of it being said over and over again. What is stopping this team from getting over the hump and competing for a championship?

I just don’t know and I won’t pretend that I do. What I do know is that as a fan it’s beyond frustrating to watch the Cowboys play the same way in recent years and then be told that they will learn from what is happening, they will get better and they will make sure it doesn’t happen anymore. Enough already!!! It’s like swinging a hammer and hitting your hand. You know it hurts every time you hit your hand and you express that something needs to be done about it, but you keep doing it. When does it finally get through to you that maybe, just maybe if you stop hitting your hand then it will stop hurting!!

Just look at some of these quotes I found over the last few seasons. It may seem that I’m picking on Romo considering most of the quotes are from him, but I’m not. It just seems like he is the main player who keeps saying it.

After losing to Chicago 34-18 this season.

“I’m going to have to reassess a couple of things that are happening and make sure that they don’t happen again,” Romo said. “We just have to make a conscious effort to make sure and control that aspect, and saying that I can’t try to do too much. I think that I tried to do that tonight, and going forward, I just have to do my job and I will.”

After  losing to Seattle 27-7 this season.

“You’ve got to be able to learn. This is all part of that process. Coach Garrett said it today, today’s an important day of never really getting too high after a big win or too low after a loss. You’ve got to be critical of yourself, evaluate it – win or loss – and get better.”

After losing to New England 20-16 in 2011.

“This team is continuing to grow and get better,” Romo said. “We just need to finish a game like today and we will I think.”

After losing to Detroit 34-30 in 2011.

“Today and over the next week or two, it’s going to be difficult to look back at it, but at some point here, we’re going to move on,” Romo said. “There’s a lot of guys doing a lot of good things. We’ll evaluate it and get better from it.”

After losing to the Giants 33-31 in 2009.

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to play up to the level the rest of the other guys did,” Romo said. “I have to get better at the mistakes I made and I will.”

This is just a small sample, but it’s something that has bothered me the last few years. It’s almost like the movie Groundhog Day. It’s the same story over and over again and it gets to be too much after a while. I want nothing more than for the Cowboys to achieve greatness again. It’s been too long since the glory days when the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four years back in the 90’s. After the Cowboys bye week the next five games will tell a whole lot about how the 2012 season will play out.